On 8 March 2022, International Women’s Day, European Coordination Via Campesina salutes the historic struggles of organised working women in the countryside and in cities for their rights and to live with dignity, alongside La Via Campesina international.
Women feed the population, preserve collective memory and lead resistance throughout the world. Yet the value and weight of their societal role continues to be overlooked and underestimated, in both rural and urban settings. In a scenario of brutal violence and capitalist, patriarchal, and racist exploitation that oppresses women, peasants, landless people, migrants and gig economy workers, children, indigenous, black, and LGBTQ+ people, we call for unity of action. We look to make visible and denounce the political and economic system used to exploit women’s labour, their bodies, and natural resources for the sake of profit, which causes unemployment, hunger, impoverishment, and increasingly precarious housing, leaving health and education only for the privileged few.
The serious political, economic, and social crises our societies are experiencing heightens the contradictions of the capitalist system and threatens real living conditions and the survival of not only women, sexually and gender diverse people, but all human life and the planet itself.
It is shameful that while things have gotten worse for most people during the pandemic, the gap between the rich and poor has also grown wider according to an Oxfam report. As neoliberal and emergency packages get thrown at working people, seriously setting back social programs, economic power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.
2021 was a record year for agribusiness in terms of the production and marketing of export crops, despite its unsustainable model of death based on monocrops, excessive use of agrotoxins, GMOs, and expulsion of peasant farmers from the land. Instead of bringing development to our territories, it just pollutes and leaves people hungry, poor, and diseased.
These issues and inequalities often hit women, the LGBTQI+ community and other marginalised groups first and hardest. Reflecting on the situation of rural women and women farmers and agricultural workers in Europe, ECVC members underline the difficulties and concerns against which they are struggling: “During this health crisis we peasants have suffered many setbacks with our rights, we have experienced hunger and unemployment. We have gone back thirty or forty years, even in Europe. This is why it is so important to reorganise ourselves and strengthen ourselves as ECVC and LVC and connect with women in their day-to-day lives. We peasant women are experiencing violence, land grabbing, and caregiving continues to be worrisome during the post-pandemic period,” Sonia Vidal from the Sindicato Labriego Gallego and member of the Women’s Articulation of ECVC and Women’s section of LVC.
These concerns have become even more concrete in recent weeks, with the dramatic realities of the situation in Ukraine. Thousands of people are dying, millions are at risk, and hundreds of thousands are fleeing for refuge as a result of the war in Ukraine triggered by Russia’s invasion. Moreover, at this stage, Ukrainian farmers will probably not be able to plant this year. This 8 March and throughout 2022, ECVC calls on member organisations and allies to raise their voices to demand an end to the war and to find diplomatic solutions to restablish peace in the region. We stand with the peasants and other people living in rural and urban areas in Ukraine, who continue to resist in defence of human rights.
More broadly, ECVC and LVC will continue to defend popular land reform, food sovereignty, agroecology, and peasant and popular feminism. These are specific proposals for dialogue and solutions to establish a set of public policies that could promote real development based on such concrete actions as redistribution of land and profits, and promoting social justice and peace in rural and urban areas.
During this day of action, we call upon our member organisations, allies, and friends to demand more commitment and concrete actions to empower, protect and support women through policy and paradigm change. We call for an end to all forms of violence and oppression, both in Europe and in solidarity with our sisters around the world. We call for programs, education, and communications campaigns to build healthier and more just societies and gender relations. We call for fair incomes for farmers, as a key part of valuing the work of women farmers around the world. We call for access to land for women, to ensure the food security and food sovereignty of future generations. And we call for unity and action from allies, institutions and individuals to advance the struggle for equality of women everywhere.
With Food Sovereignty and Solidarity, We Harvest Rights and a Dignified Life! Peasant women and girls sow peace!