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Women Building Alternatives

Meeting of Women for Food and Energy Sovereignty in Brazil

More than 500 women from all over Brazil met at the national meeting of women for food and energy sovereignty in Belo Horizonte from August 28 to 31. Women of all different cultures, ages, civil statuses, labor conditions, education, from the country and the cities came to share their knowledge and also their concerns in view of the changes being imposed by the capitalist system to continue developing at the cost of most of the population; changes that are currently affecting the country, the cities, the environment, and life.

In this first meeting organized jointly by the World March of Women-Brazil and the women of Vía Campesina-Brazil, debates were set up on the consequences of agrofuel and hydroelectric policies as a supposedly alternative form for generating energy for the developed countries, where current energy supply is not enough, especially now that oil production seems to be reaching the top of its cycle. These are forms of energy generation for which the main sources of raw material are based in countries with large areas of farmland and water, most of which are concentrated in South America.

These policies reproduce the rationale of the so-called “green revolution” policies, which in the 1960s and 1970s motivated single-crop farming and land concentration, and pushed for the mechanization of farming and the use of agrotoxics; at the same time, community agro-ecological practices were depreciated, all of this under the pretext of increasing food yield as a response to hunger in the world. By monopolizing land for agribusiness and privatizing water, they will affect family farmers and the native peoples directly, but they will affect women even more, as they are the ones most directly related with farming activities. Among the more serious consequences are the denationalization of territories, the overexploitation of labor, the expropriation of farmlands that will be used for single-crop farming, the installation of hydroelectric plants, and export-oriented cash crops.

Another of the themes discussed by the participants was that of the consumption patterns in the country and in the city, which generate false needs by providing incentives for unfettered consumption, requiring an enormous use of water and energy. These patterns, it was pointed out, go hand-in-hand with exploiting the labor force at an increasingly intense pace: it all adds up to a truly violent appropriation of wealth.

Conclusions were that it is necessary to re-educate to consumption, to organize consumers, to increase recycling, and to change eating habits. It was pointed out that women have a fundamental role in this area, since they are responsible for 80% of consumption decisions.

The meeting also discussed the relationship between the food industry and health, pointing out that the standardization of food kills life. “True food is the fruit of Nature, but it is transformed by human energy for the accumulation of capitalism. We need to fight to save the rural way of producing food in order to save humankind,” underscored Luciana María Piovesan of the Rural Women’s Movement.

For joint action in the city and in the country

The participants at the meeting emphasized that the role of women needs to be stressed as producers of food, as transformers of this energy, as owners of ancestral knowledge, which should be protected, circulated, and reproduced through the concept of sovereignty. A sovereignty that implies caring for biodiversity; a food sovereignty that implies the right to healthy food, to produce it organically, to diversify production, to preserve the traditional forms of production, to decide land policies and those on the means of production. Energy sovereignty, which defends universal access to energy in the face of the dominant consumption designed for the economic benefits of the minority; that rejects the industrialization of farming, and that will oppose the interests of the free market, as a way of checking the environmental crisis.

The women participating in the meeting also posited a sovereignty based on recognition and value being granted to the work of women and their role in the country’s entire production channels.

An outstanding aspect of the meeting was that which allowed building greater unity among women from the country and those of the city around these themes, as well as to deepen the concept of feminism. In the opinion of Lourdes Vicente, member of the meeting’s coordination for the Movement of the Landless: “Here we have perceived that the problems experienced by city women are the same as those experienced by women farmers. The energy and food question is common to all of us.” Some common fights for the future were therefore identified to face this reality.

Drawn up with information of the Meeting Communication Team. Further information.


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