Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Many struggles, one movement

Monthly Archives: June 2012

Feminism, Food and Agroecology Workshop

On Saturday March 15, the World March of Women coordinated a workshop on feminism, food and agroecology. Several women activists from around the world interwove these concepts with concrete experiences of their lives and the communities they represented. Several important themes were covered in the presentations: problem of capitalism, land theft, land misuse, and nature tampering

Problematic of capitalism

The structure of the capitalist economy is responsible for many of the issues and tragedies people face on a daily basis.  When profit is at the center of an exchange or a practice, there will always be one who exploits and one who is exploited.  Throughout the world, nature is being privatized and commodified. The privatization of water and land increases the hardship women and girls play in families as they often have to travel longer distances for water and do more with less in terms of food.

Land theft

One issue raised (that i am synthesizing with other stories i have heard in Rio) was the process whereby governments go into areas and lay claim to them, bulldoze people out of their homes (or force them out in other ways), take their land, and sell it to multinational corporations for export-oriented monocropping.  Other processes of land theft include forcing people to pay to live on land that has been in the hands of their people for many generations.  And to pay for these imposed rents, people are forced/coerced to work for the corporations that in the meantime have bought the land from the government.

Land misuse

The presenters spoke to several practices that i am considering as land misuse.  They include monocropping, and the use of toxins (pesticides and fertilizers, for export.  Monocropping is an environmentally destructive and unsustainable practice as it requires far more water than under different conditions would be needed; it requires that large tracts of land be cleared and planted; heavy applications of pesticides are needed to ward off infestations that are frequent with monocropping; and most of the crops cultivated on this stolen/appropriated land are designated for export.  This means that local communities are prohibited access to the products. In some cases, agreements have been made with private land owners to keep land uncultivated.

Nature tampering and destruction of biodiversity

Genetically modified (GM) seeds are frequently pushed on people to use or, given the proximity of farming in areas where land grabs have taken place, forced to use as the seeds spread to their family farms.  GM seeds require heavy applications of pesticide and fertilizer and are essentially ‘dead’ because they cannot produce viable seeds themselves.  The heavy use of toxins leads to many health problems among the people who work the land and the communities whose water is contaminated by runof

Given the role women play in the nations represented by the speakers and those who asked questions – Uganda, Colombia, Philippines, Ecuador – these issues have a tremendous impact on women and girls.  Lives are made much more difficult and stressful by having to work harder and travel further for basic access to food and water. Some men leave their families in search of work in other places, some of whom return and others not. The weight women carry is great and the solutions not as clear.

Several put forward policy-based solutions, arguing that the government intervene to set up systems that increase access to food, that prevent corporations from taking land so easily from them, that prohibit monocropping and other forms of land misuse, and so on. But while the need is great, the struggle is uphill as government leaders are in bed with corporations.  The will of the women is strong, however and their communities will fight until the end.

 

by Ife Kilimanjaro, East Michigan Environmental Action Council

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In Praise of “Women’s Work”

Buen Vivir! from Women, Feminism, and Agroecology session.

“Nature is the mother of everything, its no coincidence She’s referred to as Mother. Earth gives life, Women give life. We are seeking complimentarity, our work is not valued as highly as that of men.”

“We have the right to work and feed ourselves with our own seeds. We should not have to depend on food from abroad. We have traditional knowledge to feed ourselves and our people in our countries.”

“Women have to deal with the food shortages when raising our children, feeding our families.  Without land, we have to go to the city and look for jobs. This takes us away from our children and families.”

Cuando una mujer avanza, ningun hombre retrocede

“Llego la hora para luchar por un gobierno feminista y popular”

Idioteque – Handling the Contradictions with Love

Here in Rio at the People’s Summit, I have been moved to tears several times this week. My mind is trying desperately to wrap itself around the contradictions it is experiencing, needing a logical resting place. I’m not sure that there is one. The beauty of nature, the anguish of people, and the din of the machine. Literally a stone’s toss away from glorious sandy beaches, sparkling waters, and majestic mountains is a powerful convergence of community, indigenous, and grassroots people of this Earth, united in a struggle to keep Earth alive. Simultaneously the United Nations Rio+20 Conference seems to giving Earth’s closing arguments, sentencing her to perpetual corporate and government servitude.

At the People’s Summit, more than 30 tents have been erected and activist groups are gathering for discussion regarding a variety of climate injustices and their impact on the planet and Her inhabitants. We are celebrating ecological diversity and honoring the deep wisdom which comprises our very DNA. We are looking resolutely toward solutions and necessary systemic change. This gives us the strength to keep going despite an ominous thread that is weaving its way through every conversation, threatening to drawstring itself around our truths, bind our tongues, and cut them off at the roots.

At times like this, times of deep anger and pain, I realize that we have go in even more deeply and lean heavily on love. I ground myself in knowing that at the center of this gathering, every plenary and workshop, the early morning and late night meetings, in every ritual dance, every spiritual ceremony, every hug, kiss, and handshake, is love. The love is palpable amidst the urgency surrounding this crises we have been forced into at the hands of the corporate greed economy, and is what will ultimately disempower that machine. We come from a place of peace and healing and love will always be at the forefront.

Vandana Shiva “The Earth is the Biggest Employer”

Check out the video: Vandana Shiva – “The Earth is the Biggest Employer

I was inspired yesterday by Vandana Shiva at the People Summit.  I only caught part of her speech where she states that “the earth is the biggest employer” and not the corporate profit structure that influences our global food systems.

In her presentation she discussed the role of the climate injustice, false green economy, small farmers, contradictions to patents of life, impacts of GMO’s, occupy movement and taking back the land for urban agriculture as well as community rights to the land.

Check out the video: Vandana Shiva – “The Earth is the Biggest Employer

Ironically, I had planned to go to another presentation on zero waste with GGJ comrades but I heard a familiar voice speaking-English while walking past the tent structures where the presentations were being held.  Over one hundred people were attentively listening to her presentation.  Over three fourths of the crowd had translation equipment.

She got a standing ovation after her speech.   While everyone clapped I navigated through the crowd of Portugese voices trying to pick up familiar words that sounds like Spanish and eventually I was the third person in line to greet her.  I greeted her with warm eyes and with solutions in my heart and asked her had she heard about the food justice work in the Bay Area.  She said, “yes, you all are doing amazing work”.  We smiled together and then I asked her did she hear about the occupation of Gill Tract in Berkeley, which called attention to the need for direct action to take back the land.  She said, “I heard about it but send me more information”.  She gave me a giant motherly hug and I thanked her for presentation.

I wish I got a picture with her but maybe I’ll catch up with her on the streets marching for climate justice and protecting the people and the planet.

Sign the Petition: Stop the Greed Economy!

The US State Department needs to hear from you today!

The global 1% is converging in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this June at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to unveil their “Green Economy” strategy—but we know that just calling something “green” doesn’t mean it’s good for people or for the planet.  The “Rio+20” Conference is a key moment when world government have an opportunity to either act to protect our future, or continue on the same failed strategies that are threating our future.

The 99% are also mobilizing to Brazil this June.  Grassroots Global Justice and other grassroots groups in the Climate Justice Alignment will join thousands of people from social movements around the world converging in Rio to demand an end to profit-driven dirty energy industries like oil drilling and pipelines, market-based strategies like carbon-trading and forest exploitation, and extreme energy like fossil fuels and incinerators.

John Matuszak, US Rio+20 Lead Negotiator, and Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State need to hear from you today!

                               

While we are in Rio, we will call on the US government to take a stand against the worst tendencies of “Green Capitalism” and the “Greed Economy,” and instead invest in solutions to the root causes of the ecological and economic crises that put our communities to work, cool the planet, and transition to local economies.

On June 20th, we will join the mass mobilization called for by La Vía Campesina, World March of Women, and other global social movements to deliver these demands to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Rio+20 Lead Negotiator John Matuszak.  

Help us reach 1,000 signatures!  Add your voice–sign the petition!

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Click here NOW to sign the petition to the US State Department!

New Sticker! We Reject the Greed Economy

final!