Bold Actions in Brazil for International Women's Day

Grassroots International wishes you a happy International Women's Day!

I want to share with you a declaration from women from the Via Campesina in Brazil. The women are in Porto Alegre, Brazil during the Second World Conference of Agrarian Reform and Rural Development — the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN. They have set up a parallel forum entitled, "Land, Territory and Dignity". They set out on a march early this morning to shout out their vision of equal land and water rights for all. It's a very hopeful vision, especially for the multitudes of women around the world denied access to these precious, life-giving resources.

It wasn't just a march; the women also took direct action. They occupied a plantation owned by Aracruz Cellulose - a large Eucalyptus tree plantation grown for cellulose - what the women call a "green desert". This occupation is to demonstrate the impact (on the soil and environment) of mega plantations. These mega mono-crop plantations have a significant negative social impact. The increasing land concentration keeps land from being used by small producers whose diversified production is better for the environment, food production and food security.

Here are excerpts from the women's declaration:

"We are women peasants, daughters of this Brazilian land. Starting 500 years ago, we were nourished with sweat, blood and the work of many generations of women and men of different ethnicities. In spite of the resistance of indigenous peoples, blacks and poor people, our country continues to be a territory of extraction of riches that feed the profits of the wealthy. Brazil is far from being a free and sovereign nation.

We march towards the Second World Conference of Agrarian Reform and Rural Development — the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN with the following proposals:

1. Integrated Agrarian Reform, establishing property limits to do away with plantations and guaranteeing social justice in the Brazilian countryside.

2. Food Sovereignty, guaranteeing the recovery and preservation of biodiversity, forests, medicinal plants, native seeds, water, and land that are the patrimony of all peoples in the service of humanity.

3. That governments implement policies that provide an incentive to produce safe and healthy foods for self-sufficiency that make possible a great diversity of products, that break the monopoly of economic groups that control seeds and agriculture, and that impose uniform food customs on all peoples.

4. For us as family farmers, land must fulfill a social function, not commercial; it has to feed life and not profits. We defend family agriculture that produces food that preserves biodiversity, respects cultural diversity and generates employment and dignity for many people.

5. Public investment in science, technology and education for ecological, small scale agriculture.

6. Valuing the income of family agriculture, guaranteeing fair prices for agricultural products and creating an inclusive, solidarity marketing network that provides incentives for local production for local markets.

7. Public policies oriented towards rural areas: health, credit, insurance, public transportation, roads, housing, basic infrastructure, sanitation and education.

We are in the streets because we believe that real social change is carried out by organized peoples. And we believe that a new globalization is possible, based on solidarity among peoples with respect between diverse ethnicities, religions, cultures and genders, in a cooperative effort to preserve our natural riches and a form of production that meets the basic needs of people and not the needs of capital.

And it's with this conviction, that we women peasants will continue struggling.

Viva el 8 de marzo! Let's globalize the struggle, globalize hope, globalize solidarity!"

Signed by:
Movimento de Mulheres Camponesas (MMC) Movimento dos Sem Terra (MST) Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores (MPA) Movimento dos Atingidos pelas Barragens (MAB) Pastoral das Juventude Rural (PJR) Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT)

This declaration was reported by the Latin American Information Agency (ALAI) Please visit www.movimientos.org to learn more about innovative communications work reporting on the work of social movements. Grassroots International has provided financial support to this vital communications work as well as to the women's march. Que vivan las mujeres del mundo!