Between October 19 and 20, the second edition of this meeting was held, organized by the CIPDH-UNESCO Study and Research Team under the slogan: “Women of the Land. Compilation of knowledge and experiences for the implementation of the SDGs”.

This plenary of knowledge is an integral part of the Center with the purpose of spreading information on the daily challenges that rural women face for the development of their local economies, and the conquest of rights and equal opportunities in the face of positions of patriarchy that today still continue to be implemented at the national, regional and international levels. The meeting was held with great repercussion, both by exhibitors and participants through the Zoom platform, opening up to the entire community for live following through Facebook.

The executive director of the CIPDH-UNESCO, Fernanda Gil Lozano, inaugurated the event highlighting that “the idea of ​​these meetings is to generate a reference space between national, regional and international organizations and society to reflect on the problem of the rural women”, emphasizing in her speech that “rural women in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa constitute a very diverse population but with the same problems”. Gil Lozano highlighted the importance of the achievements made so far when she stated that “the growing defense of women for land, water and the environment is felt throughout the region” as a fundamental part of being and belonging to this great community of women.

The first part of the meeting was presented by Elena Hanono, head of the Women of the Land Study and Research Team, who stated that “…from UNESCO’s International Center for the Promotion of Human Rights we have been proudly carrying out this cycle with the aim of promoting the access and strengthening of the rights of rural women…” and that “…history can be written in a traditional way, with words, with phrases, but also from daily movements, through organization, joint creation, reflection and action, that allow us to change situations experienced as unfair…”

As the first speaker, Deolinda Carrizo from Argentina, Gender Director of the Secretariat of Family Agriculture of the Ministry of National Agriculture, a peasant and indigenous activist in MOCASE, highlighted the role of rural women as those who “have been the ones who have the body to defend itself against the neoliberal policies in all of Latin America”, assuring that peasant women “are not productive subjects but part of the solution that, at some point, a few said would end hunger throughout the world”. Carrizo also argued that in matters of food sovereignty, it is not essential to know where the food comes from and why, but the important thing is to know what is the arduous and daily work that the women of the land do to obtain it. She concluded by ensuring that to strengthen indigenous peasant agriculture, the role of peasant women is to be in the decision-making spaces, thus contributing to “eliminate the gender gap”, also highlighting their work in shelters for women in situations of poverty and against gender violence.

She was followed as second speaker by Lilian Galán from Uruguay, Legislator belonging to the Popular Participation Movement of the Frente Grande, who shared the reality of her country in relation to these issues explaining that “the issue of land and women is a disputed territory, today more than ever in Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean” and appreciated the achievement of the public policies that, as agents of change, her party implemented in Uruguay to extend joint ownership of the land to wives and concubines, and the gradual advance to achieve the SDGs.

For her part, Ángela Chislla Palomino, Leader of Peruvian organizations, President of the Association of Merchants for Economic Reactivation, Indigenous and Peasant Leader and former councilor of the Peruvian province Melgar Ayaviri, shared her tireless struggle in pursuit of the consideration of indigenous women as the “mistresses of the land” and the “true workers and providers of livelihoods for their families”, expressing with regret that in their country there are almost no policies on land ownership for women. On the other hand, she highlighted that the media do not report the daily reality of native peoples’ life difficulties; rather they are marginalized or discredited by news predisposing society in general towards discrimination against these communities, mainly when it comes to land ownership and decision-making. She expressed her wish that the State will establish an “agrarian or development bank so that indigenous people can manage their own economy in a sustainable and real way.” Likewise, she stressed the absence of reparative policies in her country for indigenous women who have suffered forcible sterilizations in the past. Finally and as a closing to her speech at the meeting, her words stood out when she expressed: “We defend the land with our lives because she is our mother and that is how we consider her (…) women are the ones who are ahead in the struggles of the peoples, but at the moment of decisions, they do not take us into account (…) we women demand access to land and that food sovereignty be given to our people”.

Marisa Pineau, Magister, Researcher and Professor of African Studies, raised in her intervention two topics regarding the reality of peasant women in the African continent. On the one hand, she assured that African women are in a permanent search for equality and the right to land. On the other hand, she highlighted that there is a large percentage of heads of household women in Africa as a direct consequence of the migration of men in recent years. She also stated that at the end of  the apartheid in 1994, taking the case of South Africa, rights were granted and expanded to women and men alike, but that in practice women’s rights have been impeded, marginalizing them from all participation.

As the last exponent of this first stage of the meeting, it was the turn of Jaqueline Gómez from Uruguay, who directed the National Institute of Colonization of Uruguay (2013-2020). She is also an Agricultural Engineer and participates in courses on agrarian economy and the environment. In her presentation, she emphasized the importance of not only achieving access to land by women, but also that this be accompanied by  the associated rights to health, education, entertainment and eradication of all kinds of gender violence. From the Institute, and as president of it in 2014, she explained that in Uruguay much progress could be made in terms of equality of the right to land and the application of a large percentage of joint ownership of agricultural holdings, but that currently exists a regrettable setback in land policies for women. For this reason, she emphasized that “a cultural change is required on our part” as a mechanism for advancing and agreeing on the rights of all women, regardless of their region or country of belonging.

The second part of the meeting was presented and facilitated by Pía Berdiñas who stated that “…Rural women have specific problems, and important lags and gaps in their development indicators, due to the interaction of multiple inequalities that afflict them. They have organized to improve their living conditions and solve the problems that violate them, in movements that promote their rights…”.

Cata Alonso from Chile, spokesperson and founding member of Women of Sacrifice Zones in Resistencia de Puchuncavi Quintero, was the first speaker in this second part. She exposed her commitment to the environment, the quality of health of the populations and her fight against pollution. She emphasized her fight against state policies to create industrial zones in environments that, in terms of population, disrupt the right to health and a healthy environment. She showed the serious consequences that pollution has on populations causing serious health disorders, mainly in children and vulnerable populations. She also pointed out against the Corporate Social Responsibility in her country and argued for the urgent need to implement a decontamination plan to be able to live from agriculture, fishing and tourism, valuing respect for human rights.

Valentina Escuti Bustos from Chile, Visual Artist and Cultural Manager of environmental actions, founder of “Chao Pescao” and “Chao Carbón”, explained her commitment to disseminate her stance through art and communication in favor of the territory and the environment. She explained that her commitment is to link her role as an environmentalist with impact art as a means of expression, awareness and dissemination in favor of the right to land, the environment, and the eradication of industrial and energy sources. In her projects there are also references to music, the arts in general and non-traditional media. She also shared her experience as a defender of the environment in different forums and meetings of international organizations.

As representative of Ecuador, following was the turn of Gabriela Sinchi Gómez, communicator and feminist, radio producer and manager of communicational content with a focus on gender. She stressed on the empowerment of women in the rural areas of her country and on the historical struggle that they have been leading for the territories and agricultural-livestock production. She also highlighted her criticism against “extractivism”, Ecuador’s current economic model, by which men emigrate, with women being the only support for life, food and production in their peasant communities. Sinchi Gómez also pointed out the hard work of the women of her country when mentioning that “We also fight for land territory and for body territory because women suffer a lot of violence (…) 6 out of 10 women suffer violence in their lives”.

Afterwards, Alejandra Bonilla Leiva from Costa Rica took the stand Agronomist, coordinator of the Interuniversity Project of Solidarity Economy and Feminism of the National University of Costa Rica and founding member of Tinamaste for the promotion and development of indigenous and rural women in Costa Rica, in her presentation she emphasized her concern by saying “the center of power has a very classist anti-indigenous and anti-peasant vision” and for this reason, which extends throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, began the struggle in favor of women of her country, very few of which are landowners. She also explained that the vast majority of Costa Rica’s peasant population lives in a situation of “borrowing” the land. On the other hand, she argued that the State does not have policies that accompany and guarantee the distribution of land to indigenous and rural women, these being the major food producers. In tune with this, she reaffirmed her sorrow since this environment of disinterest in the women of her land also contributes to the increase in violence due to the lack of full equality rights. In her final statement, she remarked: “Denying the right to land is also violence.”

As last speaker of the meeting was Lourdes Huanca, from Peru, President of the Federation of Peasant Women, Artisans and Native and Salaried Indigenous Women of Peru. Her speech covered three axes clearly linked to one another. First, she explained that the main problem of indigenous women in her country is the lack of food sovereignty, the lack of a health system and quality and inclusive education. Second, she focused on her concern for the scant interest on the part of the State in working together with indigenous and peasant communities for the implementation of policies and the expansion of rights, mainly women’s. Thirdly, she prevailed in the struggle and affirmed her commitment as a peasant and indigenous woman when she said: “The abuse of women is over (…) peasant women must be valued for the economic contribution we make to our countries”. Finally, Huanca made a claim in favor of an abortion law for indigenous and peasant girls in her country who have been raped and violated and deprived of all kinds of rights.

As the final closure of this second Encounter of Women of the Earth. Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, Fernanda Gil Lozano, Executive Director of CIPDH-UNESCO, took the mic again, highlighting the great work and accomplishment of the meeting, congratulating her team as well as each speaker and participants of the same. Gil Lozano pointed out: “Women play a fundamental role in guaranteeing food security for our families”. In this way, she ratified the importance of guaranteeing all the rights of women on the land and citing her unwavering struggle to achieve them as an example. She also said that “we must become aware of the need for women to have access and control over their land to challenge and change power structures and patterns of inequality that are so recurrent throughout the region”. She also emphasized the link between gender violence in relation to housing and forced evictions for discriminatory reasons, around the right to inheritance. Finally, she highlighted the commitment from the CIPDH-UNESCO in the realization of a “pioneering” document that will serve as a consultation and guide for all those rural women and girls who have been so badly deferred from their rights.

During the meeting, the coordinating representatives of the CIPDH-UNESCO greeted and thanked the presence and adhesion of national and regional referents. These were: Silvia Horne, National Deputy, mandate fulfilled; Mónica Treitl, Vice President of the Solidarity Party of the Province of Buenos Aires and a referent for the Women and Diversity Front; Gustavo Carbonell, from Trama Sur Canal Social Latinoamericano; María Fernanda Silva, Argentine Ambassador to the Holy See; Cecilia Meirovich, Secretary of Human Rights of the Argentine Foreign Ministry; Andrés Morales, Representative of UNESCO Latin America; Magdalena Odarda, Director of the INAI; Antonia Chávez and Ana María Ribeiro; Ali Reyes, from Warmis Sin Fronteras Peru.