Rural Women’s Assembly – Southern Africa

Media Statement: 21 April 2022

Commemorating the International Day of Peasant Struggles

The International Day of Peasant Struggles is observed annually on 17 April to commemorate the anniversary of the massacre of 19 peasants from the Landless Workers Movement, who were killed while struggling for land in Eldorado dos Carajás, Brazil. However, the struggle for the right to land and food sovereignty are by no means limited to Brazil.

The Southern African Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) stands in solidarity with peasant, small-scale farmers, rural workers, farmworkers and indigenous movements across the world striving for land, agrarian reform, food sovereignty and climate justice. RWA represents the voices of rural women from ten SADC countries including small-scale farmers, farm workers and landless women. The Rural Women’s Assembly reflects the agency of rural women who offer sustainable alternatives to help solve the current food, energy, and environmental crisis. 

The Southern African Rural Women’s Assembly also celebrates the unrelenting work of peasants and small-scale farmers who grow most our food, but whose contributions remain unrecognized. Without peasants and small farmers, ecological systems will be further desecrated, food sovereignty would be non-existent, poverty will deepen, hunger will escalate and there will be a lack of food diversity.

The Southern Africa RWA is committed to strengthening solidarity with rural movements who resist the growing corporate control and capture of natural resources as well as food systems. The right to land and water, an essential means of production in rural areas, must include the development of more democratic decision-making processes regarding land use.  Extractive industries, corporate land grabbing and the commercial capture of food systems destroys the livelihoods of small-scale farmers as well as the wellbeing of consumers. Southern African governments have failed to effectively implement policies to strengthen women’s land rights, better support small-scale farmers (the majority of whom are women), enable agrarian transformation and protect food sovereignty.

On Friday, 22 April 2022 from 13h30 to 15h00, the Southern African Rural Women\’s Assembly, the Namibian Farmers National Union and the União Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC) will host a webinar to commemorate the International Day of Peasants Struggles. Discussions will also include how to strengthen our movement’s advocacy efforts for the urgent implementation of the United Nations of Declaration on the Rights of Peasants (UNDROP) by signatory States. UNDROP recognises the individual and collective rights of peasants, small-scale farmers and other rural workers’ right to land, seeds, water and biodiversity. During the webinar, we will also be reaffirming some of our key campaigns and demands which include:

  1. Women must have access to, ownership and control over land for rural livelihoods and food sovereignty
  2. An end to the growing criminalization of local seed sharing and better  protection and resourcing for farmer managed seed systems
  3. Education and training for member States regarding UNDROP so that they develop and implement policies in their countries to realise food sovereignty, agroecology as well as the recognition of the rights of peasants and rural workers.
  4. Better funding, resourcing and support for agro-ecology
  5. An immediate end to land and natural resource grabbing by extractive industries
  6. The Rural Women’s Assembly chapter in South Africa commits to intensifying the “One Women, One Hectare” campaign to ensure that all rural women have their land and water rights secured in practice.  

RWA believes that women are the “Guardians of Land, Life, Seeds and Love” and we invite rural women across SADC to join the webinar and consider joining our growing movement.

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