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World Social Forum
By Jonathan Leaning
December 19th, 2013
This last year has seen many advances around the globe for communities and activists pushing to regain their fundamental human rights to land, water, and food. As we now approach the end of 2013, we take this opportunity a look back at some of the accomplishments that have marked the year. In spite of the great challenges—and seemingly insurmountable odds—there is much to celebrate. Below are some of many highlights from the last year.
Winning land for formerly landless farmers in Brazil
Thousands of small farmers joined students, activists, unionists , human rights advocates and others at the World Social Forum in Tunisia last week. Among the many demonstrations and calls for action, the plea for seed sovereignty resonated with the peasant organizers who have seen their lands and livelihoods threatened by the “Green Revolution” and the incursion of industrial agriculture.
By Mina Remy
October 22nd, 2012
For the past year, Stop the Wall and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (both Grassroots International partners) have been working diligently with their Palestinian and Brazilian allies to fulfill the call issued in 2011 at the World Social Forum in Dakar. Then, participants expressed a desire to hold a thematic World Social Forum to explore ongoing social injustice in the occupied Palestinian territories; and to formulate an international response from the peoples of the world since states have either been unwilling or unable to provide pathways toward a just peace.
Grassroots International joined nearly 500 other organizations around the world in signing the “Dakar Appeal Against Land Grabbing.” The appeal, originally drafted at the World Social Forum in Dakar in February 2011, calls upon governments to immediately cease all massive land grabs and return the plundered land to communities.
In advance of International Women’s Day, several organizations representing various social movements around the world – many of them Grassroots International partners, grantees, and allies – co-wrote a “Letter of Solidarity with the Struggle of Women in the World.” We are reposting the text below:
According to Grassroots International ally Fahamu, “Agriculture… remains the main source of income of a rural population generally estimated at 70% of the total population… [W]omen remain an essential link in agricultural production, accounting for 70% of food production, managing nearly 100% of processing activities, responsible for about 50% of the maintenance of the family herds and also responsible for some 60% of sales activities in the markets.” Any solutions to the problems of African agriculture, therefore, must include women. In fact, African women are saying, “We Are the Solution.”
"Pourquoi la campagne": Via Campesina Africa launches Campaign to End Violence against Women at 2011 World Social Forum in Dakar
In 2008, I was privileged to attend the 5th international conference of Grassroots International partner the Via Campesina, in Matola, Mozambique. The Via, a global movement representing over 150 million peasants and other small producers on 5 continents, has been the leading voice for the rights of small farmers and farmworkers as well as other small producers and has led global campaigns for agrarian reform, against free trade and for climate justice. At its 2008 conference, however, it launched another global campaign that a lot of people don’t yet know about. This is the Global Campaign to End Violence against Women.
It is the tradition at World Social Forums (WSF) to focus a considerable amount of time, energy, resources and attention on issues faced by people in the host region and country. The 2011 World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal that I had the privilege of attending was no different. Africa and African issues suffused the WSF throughout the forum.
One of these issues was the massive land grabs that are taking place all across the continent. Appropriately called the New Scramble for Africa, it is eerily similar to the mad rush by European colonial powers during the last quarter of the 19th century to divide Africa up among them.
The former capital of capitalism lies in ruins. The fourth richest city in the world in the 1940s, Detroit, East-Central U.S.A., has become a graveyard of buildings and factories. The Michigan Central Train Station symbolizes the city's crisis: inaugurated in 1913 and abandoned since 1988, the eighteen-story train station with hundreds of broken windows dominates the skyline and continually reminds one that of the devastation that is Detroit.