16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources: 31 groups from 19 countries push for food sovereignty and climate justice

In a series of collective action of farmers, movements and advocacy groups from different countries from October 1 to 16, PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) organises once again the “16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources”.

This global campaign addresses the most urgent crises faced by small-scale farmers and food producers, especially in poor countries- climate change, hunger, food insecurity, and land grabbing.

For PANAP, a global campaign on land and resources is urgent, necessary and just, now more than ever. Apart from the massive impact of climate change in their communities, small-scale farmers and food producers are directly affected by aggressive expansion of corporate agriculture in different forms, such as land grabbing. For instance, the latest report of non-government organization GRAIN exposed 491 deals on land grabbing, covering 30 million hectares spanning 78 countries. Under these land deals, small food producers’ rights to land and resources are taken away, undermining their food sovereignty.

On the other hand, it needs to be stressed that when the people resist, it is often met with state aggression and violence. From January 2015 to August 2016 alone, Land Rights and Watch, (LR Watch) has listed 4,651 human rights violations from January 2015 to August 2016 due to land conflicts and struggles. LR Watch is an initiative of PANAP and its partners and networks to closely monitor and expose human rights abuses against communities opposing land and resource grabbing,

Seventy percent of world food is produced by small farm holders, according to a 2014 UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) report. Ironically though, among those who suffer the most are the small food-producers.

This year’s 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources campaign aims to generate solidarity in the struggle for collective rights, mobilise people to be involved in the people’s resistance against corporate agriculture, land grabbing and all forms of repression. It also aims to gather broader support and promote initiatives of small food producers and farming communities on food sovereignty and agroecology as an alternative to corporate agriculture. The campaign will also highlight the different activities of participating groups in putting forward solutions and positive actions within the communities. There will be workshops, educational exchanges, song festival and theatre performances that are aimed at strengthening communities’ resilience amid the crises they are faced with.

In South Asia, women groups are organising training-workshops, public meetings and rallies that will tackle issues such as food security, impact of climate change in agriculture, impact of pesticides use, and rural women’s role in food production. On the other hand, participating groups in Africa will hold workshops and dialogues among farmers and government officials on the issues of local agricultural situation, food injustice and repression. Meanwhile, groups from Southeast Asia are tackling the issues of landlessness, hunger, and food security in different activities during the 16 days of global action.

The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources 2016 will also highlight the Monsanto Tribunal on October 14-16 in Hague, The Netherlands. As part of its support to the tribunal, PANAP will gather signatures all over the world through a petition that will highlight the agrochemical giant’s crimes against humanity. The petition calls on the people to resist corporate takeover on agriculture.

The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources will culminate on International Rural Women’s Day (15 October) and World Foodless/Hunger Day (16 October) through rallies and mass actions across the globe.

Reference: Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director, PAN Asia Pacific, 16daysofaction@panap.net

Defend food sovereignty!
Support Agroecology! Support Climate-resilient Agriculture!
Fight for climate justice!
Resist Corporate Takeover on Agriculture!
Uphold women’s rights!
Land to the Landless! Land to the Tillers!

For Land and Life: 16 Days of Global Action

Today, rural women from 20 countries across the globe are taking a strong and united stand against the unprecedented scale of land and resource grabbing in the world. For the next 16 days, in what we call the 16 Days of Global Action, rural women under the slogan “No Land, No Life!” will rise to educate, mobilise and engage their communities, schools, governments, and the general public. Through their collective power and creativity, rural women’s groups will assert the need for land to the landless, food sovereignty, biodiverse ecological agriculture, reclamation of traditional seeds and knowledge, and women’s rights.

Started in 29th March this year at the declaration of the Day of the Landless by PANAP, ARWC (Asian Rural Women’s Coalition), APC (Asian Peasants’ Coalition) and partner groups, the campaign No Land, No Life: March for Life! Fight for Rights, Land and Resources! is a response to the deeply felt effects of intensified land and resource grabbing on small-scale farmers and food producers, including women. After the world food crisis seven years ago, the monopoly control of landlords and big corporations over huge tracts of land has tightened more than ever through the neoliberal restructuring of agriculture. Genuine land reform remains an unrealised dream for the millions of farmers who toil under increasingly exploitative and hazardous conditions, while losing control over food production. Globally, food production—which depends on the ownership of land and resources—has become alarmingly unsustainable, as land and resources are utilised by a handful of individuals or corporations only as a means to achieve superprofits.

For rural women, land and resources mean life. Without it, they have no community, they have no livelihood, they have no culture and identity. Without it, they cannot even feed themselves and their own families. Rural women are seed savers and land tillers, community leaders and family managers. They are indispensable to food security and to society. However, they are virtually fighting for survival today, as land, seeds, water and other productive resources are being taken away.

Land and resource grabbing is an unmistakably growing threat. According to the Land Matrix website, around 1,067 land deals covering more than 38.9 million hectares have been concluded worldwide since 2000. Most of the agricultural lands involved are in Africa, Asia and Latin America with investors mainly from the US and Europe.[1] It is a re-colonisation of the world, except that it is being made acceptable by neoliberal policies implemented through various international and national instruments.

It is a re-colonisation that is marked by human rights violations and violence against men and women. Extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and even mass evacuations have become more common in rural areas where there are conflicts arising from land and resource grabbing—such as in Southern Philippines, where the indigenous Lumad are being killed for defending their ancestral lands from the encroachment of mostly foreign mining companies. Just last week, social activist Medha Patkar and 10 others were arrested in the Allahabad district in Uttar Pradesh for protesting over the Indian government’s proposed thermal power plant, which has displaced nearly 2,000 farmers from over 500 hectares of land.

The need for rural women to speak up on the threats to their land and life bore life to the 16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women. For the past months, PAN Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) together with about 75 of its network partners, have been raising public awareness on the rural women’s six demands, namely: (1) land to the landless; (2) genuine agrarian reform; (3) biodiverse ecological agriculture; (4) reclaiming of traditional seeds and knowledge; (5) women’s rights; and (6) food sovereignty. These demands are both timely and timeless. They arose from a meticulous process of collecting their experiences, struggles, and aspirations across the region—through a journal that passed from woman to woman, through speak-outs, public assemblies and fora, lobbying, and marches and protest actions.

For it is the same threats of land and resource grabbing that have encouraged rural women to stand up and assert their rights as women and as members of the affected communities. They do so by defending their lands against encroachers, setting up community seed banks and collectively-owned ecological farms, among others.

For the next 16 days, they will thus bring their struggles for land reform and food sovereignty to policymakers, opinion makers, and the general public through various awareness raising activities. An active online campaign utilising social media and using the hashtags #NoLandNoLife #RuralWomenRiseUp will also be launched. All these will culminate with mass actions on October 15, World Rural Women’s Day, and October 16, the World “Foodless” Day.

Through these activities, rural women will call for justice for their sisters and brothers who have fallen victim to countless human rights violations resulting from land and resource grabbing. For it is the everyday life-or-death struggles for land that gave birth and strengthened the resolve of rural women across the globe to fight for their future – one that is intricately intertwined with the future of food production that serves the interest of the great majority instead of the profits of the few. As we are imperiled by fast dwindling resources and poisoned land, the need for rural women and other marginalised rural sectors to fight back remains urgent, necessary and just more than ever.

No Land, No Life!

Women, Assert Our Rights to Land and Resources!

*The 16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women is a global campaign to highlight and support the struggles, leadership and victories of rural women as they continue to assert and reclaim their rights to land and resources. From October 1-16, more than 70 organisations and movements in 20 countries are holding various activities to forward the rural women’s agenda and demands.

Reference:  Marjo Busto, Programme Coordinator, PANAP (marjo.busto@panap.net)

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[1] Data from http://landmatrix.org/en/ as accessed on 29 September 2015

 

16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women Launched

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – At a farmers’ picket-protest against land grabbing in Rodriguez, Rizal, PANAP in coordination with AMIHAN Philippines (National Federation of Peasant Women) launched yesterday the 16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women (#16Days4RuralWMN).

“This is a global campaign to highlight rural women’s struggles, victories and leadership in their assertion to defend food sovereignty and their rights to land and resources. From October 1 to 16, various women’s groups in at least 15 countries will hold simultaneous activities which will culminate on October 15 and 16, International Rural Women’s Day and World Food (Less) Day respectively,” stated Marjo Busto, Coordinator of Women in Agriculture Programme of PANAP.

AMIHAN is a PANAP partner participating in the #16Days4RuralWMN campaign. At the picket-protest, women farmer leaders gave fiery speeches opposing quarrying and land grabbing in the municipality of Rodriguez in the province of Rizal.

Zenaida Soriano, AMIHAN Chairperson, said “We are firmly opposed to big landlords grabbing the lands we have been tilling for generations. We fight against quarrying which only benefits big business but is hazardous to the environment and our health. We demand decent housing, livelihoods, and genuine agrarian reform.” AMIHAN held a nation-wide protest activity yesterday, highlighting farmers’ local issues and demands such as the enactment of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).

A woman farmer leader from Ilocos Norte (province in northern Philippines), Elizabeth Alfiler expressed solidarity with fellow women farmers in the picket-protest: “Like you I am a woman farmer, a wife, a mother, and an activist. To women farmers like us, land is life. Without land we cannot feed our families, we cannot send our children to school. I am one with you in opposing land grabbing and demanding for genuine agrarian reform.” Alfiler is also a journal writer in the Women’s Travelling Journal (WTJ) for Food Sovereignty, a collection of personal stories written by 50 rural women in 6 countries portraying the realities of their struggles on land and other resources. The WTJ was also launched yesterday as part of the campaign #16Days4RuralWMN.

“With this campaign we hope that rural women’s voices are heard by policymakers and governments and that rural women’s demands to stop land and resource grabbing and to uphold women’s rights are met,” emphasized Marjo Busto. “From now until October 1 to 16, we enjoin women’s groups and advocates to support us in this campaign,” she added.

The #16Days4RuralWMN is being done under PANAP’s banner campaign “No Land, No Life!”— a year-long campaign which aims to highlight land and resource grabbing as human rights issues, raise greater awareness on and generate broader support for ongoing local cases of land and resource grabbing at the international level, and coordinate and reinforce the various national campaigns against land and resource grabbing.

Reference: Marjo Busto, Programme Coordinator, PANAP (16daysofaction@panap.net)