Groups vow to strengthen solidarity to press on rural youth agenda

Tarlac, PHILIPPINES – Renewing their call for people’s rights to land and life, thirty-one (31) rural youth activists and advocates from eight (8) countries in Asia Pacific gathered here for a consultation-workshop on enhancing youth participation in rural issues, struggles and alternatives.

A discussion of issues facing the rural youth and sharing of effective strategies and campaigns to confront them highlighted the three-day consultation-workshop. The struggle for land emerged as the key issue facing the rural youth and was the central theme in the discussions.

“We believe that landlessness underlines the various structural social ills facing the vast majority of rural people in the region. Lack of own land to till leads to the physical, economic and cultural dislocation of countless peasant and indigenous communities,” read the unity statement adopted by the participants at the end of the meeting. (see the Unity statement¬†here)

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The groups noted that landlessness forces the rural youth to become tenant farmers under exploitative relations, waged agricultural laborers with cheap wages, or migrants vulnerable to various abuses, with young rural women particularly exposed to trafficking and sexual abuse. The youth are also deprived of education, health and other basic social services.

“Education and cultural identity are central to the holistic development of the youth. But poverty and lack of economic opportunities due to landlessness, coupled with abandonment and neglect of governments, deprive the youth of education,” the groups said. “Meanwhile, the kind of education given to the youth promotes individualism, colonial mentality, and subservience to the interest of the market instead of the development agenda and aspirations of the people. Cultural identity and traditional knowledge are systematically eroded to transform the youth as slaves of global monopoly capitalism,” the participants added.

To substantially address the issues facing the rural youth, the participants stressed the need to join the global people’s movement advancing genuine agrarian reform and food sovereignty, and the promotion of people’s collective rights to land and life. The groups noted that the rural youth’s “energy, vitality, enthusiasm, creativity, and commitment” would make them a major contributor to the said movement.

The youth activists resolved to strengthen international solidarity to press on the agenda of the rural youth, including through establishing a network of rural youth groups and advocates that will advance genuine agrarian reform and food sovereignty. A separate planning meeting for a global assembly of rural youth in 2017 was held after the consultation-workshop.

Co-organized by PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) and the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), with Philippine-based rural youth and peasant groups NNARA-Youth (National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates), SINAGBAYAN and KMP- Peasant Movement of the Philippines, the consultation-workshop was held on 16-18 July at the MangaRita Organic Farm in Capas town, Tarlac province, about 120 kilometers north of the capital Manila. ###

Contact: Marjo Busto, marjo.busto@panap.net

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