Karen lee Wald
A Phrasebook Guide
NATO's War on Libya
Abbas's New Gambit
Women of Corn
The CIA Returns to Campus
Native Eskimos Fight for Lost Land
Mexico's Indignados Have Had It
The Jobs Crisis
Revolts in Syria
Omar s. Dahl
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Women of Corn
In the countries of the Global South, between 60 to 80 percent (50 percent worldwide) of food production is done by women. They are in charge of working the land, safeguarding the seeds, gathering the fruit, and obtaining water. Women are the main producers of staple crops such as rice, wheat, and maize, which go to feed the most impoverished populations. However, despite their key role in agriculture and the provision of food, they are, together with children, the most affected by hunger.
For centuries, rural women have been responsible for domestic chores, care of people, feeding of families, and cultivation and marketing of surplus from their gardens. They have carried this load of reproductive, productive and community work in a private and invisible domain. In contrast, the principal economic transactions of agriculture, the trading of livestock, and the buying and selling of cereals in the market, have been carried out by men. This division of roles assigns to women the upkeep of home, health, education, and family while it gives men the management of land, machinery, and, most significantly, the “know-how,” thus perpetuating the roles allotted as masculine and feminine which for centuries and even today persist in society.
Nonetheless, in many regions of the Global South—in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia—there exists an evident “feminization” of paid agricultural work. Between 1994 and 2000, women occupied 83 percent of new employment created in the sector of non-traditional agricultural export. But this tendency includes a marked division of gender; on the plantations, women perform the unskilled tasks such as collection and packaging, while men carry out the harvesting and planting.
This incorporation of women into the paid workplace entails a double burden for them as they continue to carry out the care of their families while working for an income. Women can expect worse working conditions than their male counterparts, lower pay for the same tasks, and longer hours to earn the same.
Another difficulty is access to land. In several countries of the South, laws deny women this right. In those that legally concede tenure, tradition and custom impede disposition to them. However, this problem also occurs where many women farmers do not have their entitlements recognized despite working on the land like their male peers. Farm ownership and payment of social security, etc. is usually commanded by men. Consequently, retired women cannot count on a pension or claim assistance payments.
The degradation of farmland in these Southern countries and the increase in migration to the cities has provoked a process of agricultural disintegration. Women are an essential component of this national and international migration, engendering a disruption and abandonment of families, land, and processes of production, while increasing the family and community burden on the women who remain. In Europe, the
This intensive and unsustainable neoliberal agricultural model, has resulted in a complete inability to satisfy dietary needs of people and a complete disrespect for nature. An alternative is to establish food sovereignty. This deals with the recuperation of the right to determine the what, how, and source of what we eat—that the land, the water and the seeds should be in the hands of small farmers (male and female) and the fight to end the corporate monopoly of agrifoods.
And it is requisite that this food sovereignty be feminist and internationalist and include full equality between men and women and free access to the means of food production, distribution, and consumption, along with solidarity among people, far from the chauvinistic cries of “ours first.”
We must reclaim the role of women farmers in food and agricultural production and recognize the part played by the “women of corn,” those that work the land—to make visible the invisible—and to promote alliances between rural and urban women from the North and the South.
Esther Vivas is an activist in a variety of social movements in Barcelona and belongs to the editorial board of the magazine Viento del Sur.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.