Unwillingly. The land for those who work it

Unwillingly. The land for those who work it

By Claudia Korol

Accounts that do not close. It is estimated that there are 1.6 billion peasant women in the world (more than a quarter of the population), but only 2% of the land is their property, and they receive 1% of all credit for agriculture (1 ). In Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the rural population amounts to 121 million people. 48% (58 million) are women who work up to 12 hours a day in charge of the garden, the animals, collecting and cooking food, raising children, taking care of the elderly and the sick, among other tasks. Of the 37 million rural women over 15 years of age, only 17 million are considered part of the Economically Active Population (EAP), and only 4 million are considered "agricultural producers" (highly debatable figures since they consider as producers those who generate merchandise for sale, denying the contribution to the economy of both domestic work carried out by women, as well as production tasks for their own, family and community consumption). Nine million are indigenous, speak their own language, and are subject to double or sometimes triple discrimination, due to the fact that they are women, poor and indigenous (2).

Silvia Ribeiro, a researcher at ETC in Mexico, has drawn attention to the fact that 70% of the world's population eats what is produced by peasants, artisanal fishermen, urban gardens, everything that is called small production, but that only they have about 20% of the land. Meanwhile the publicized industrial agriculture uses 80% of the land, and 80% of all the water and fuels used in agriculture (3). This refutes the myths of the “Green Revolution”, which generated the belief that agribusiness, transgenics and the massive use of agrochemicals were going to solve the problems of the world food crisis. On the contrary, the contribution of peasant agriculture in the face of the challenge of hunger of the peoples, and also the role of women in supporting and reproducing it, is increasingly clear.

An in-depth study on women's access and ownership of land was carried out by Magdalena León and Carmen Deere (4). There it is evidenced that women in Latin America, despite this fundamental role in agriculture, own less land in absolute terms, and that when they do, it is less attractive from a productive and commercial perspective. They point out that there are different causes, such as male privilege in marriage, preference for men in inheritance practices, androcentric bias in state land titling and distribution programs, gender bias in the land market in which women women participate in a marginal way, and so on. Women work from morning to night, but in conditions of profound inequality and subordination to men.

Patriarchy imposes the sexual division of labor, and makes women's work invisible. Researchers Isabel Larguía and John Dumoulin wrote that the patriarchal family is based on the division of social life

“In two clearly differentiated spheres: the public sphere and the domestic sphere. Women were relegated to the domestic sphere due to the division of labor between the sexes, while a very powerful ideology developed over the millennia that still determines the image of women and their role in social life. Starting with the dissolution of community structures and their replacement by the patriarchal family, women's work gradually became individualized and was limited to the elaboration of use values ​​for direct and private consumption. Segregated from the world of surplus product, woman became the invisible economic foundation of class society. On the contrary, man's labor crystallized through the different modes of production into economically visible objects, destined to create wealth by entering the exchange process. In capitalism, either as the owner of the means of production, or as their operator through the sale of his labor power, man essentially defines himself as a producer of goods. His social position is categorized thanks to this activity, and his belonging to one class or another is determined according to the situation he occupies within the world created by the production of goods for exchange. Women, expelled from the economic universe that creates surplus products, nevertheless fulfilled a fundamental economic function. The division of labor assigned him the task of replenishing most of the labor force that drives the economy, transforming raw materials into use values ​​for direct consumption. In this way, it provides food, clothing, maintenance of the house, as well as the education of children. This type of work, even when consuming many hours of rough wear and tear, has not been considered value. The one who exercised it was marginalized by this fact of the economy, society and history. The invisible product of the housewife is labor power ”. (5)

In the case of rural women, when we speak of invisible work we refer to that unpaid domestic work, and to strict productive work, which is not recorded in the national accounts because it is considered as an extension of the tasks of biological reproduction and of the reproduction of the labor force. The care of the orchards, the animals, the seeds, the collection of fruits, the search for water, are unpaid tasks, considered as non-productive, although they provide food, and make the survival conditions of millions of people in the world.

The invisibility of the work of peasant women, which is based on the naturalization of the sexual division of labor, favors that this work is not economically rewarded, and contributes to consolidating the differences between men and women in access to land ownership , to credits, to technical training. It is functional to the policies of expanded reproduction of capital, of accumulation by dispossession, of overexploitation of the workforce, in processes of generating maximum profits for the oligarchies and local bourgeoisies, for the processes of foreignization and privatization of lands and all forms of life.

The proposals of the women's, peasant and popular movements

1. The recognition and appreciation of women's work. Indigenous and peasant women have drawn attention to this situation, and have formulated proposals to overcome it.

In Brazil, the women of the Landless Movement have carried out a long process of debate, opening space for their proposals through direct action initiatives that make them visible. In the thesis written by María Carballo López, it is stated: “The first demand of women within the MST was that women be recognized as farmers, since in the documents what appeared as a profession was that of‘ housewife ’. The second of them is to ensure that all have the required documentation in order, as citizens and as farmers, since it was usual that they did not have it, which had an impact on their recognition to be able to access land, aid, credits and rights that correspond to them as workers ”(6). The Peasant Women's Movement of Brazil had the need to carry out campaigns to demand recognition of their specific rights. In the study of this experience (7) Roxana Longo recovers the voices of members of this movement: “I remember that in 1986, we organized the first caravan of 36 women that went to Brasilia. When we got there, the politicians told us: "what do you want here, if you don't have any profession." We did not even have recognition as rural workers. Then, a whole fight begins for the recognition of the profession. Most of us women did not have identity documents. We were not recognized as citizens, which is why we started this whole struggle that became stronger year after year ”. (Member of the MMC —45 years).

We observe an interesting search in the Bolivian context, whose process specifically proclaims the decolonization and de-patriarchalization of society as objectives. The report prepared by the Plurinational State of Bolivia states: “The patriarchal colonial capitalist system […] is sustained by the sexual and hierarchical division of work and the naturalization of reproductive and care roles as feminine attributes and responsibilities, thus that domestic and care work has been considered non-work. In this way, the contribution of women to the reproduction of life, in economic, social and cultural terms, has been made invisible and devalued. On the other hand, the burden of domestic work and care falls on the mother of the family and / or women in general. This vision has made women's not only reproductive but also productive work invisible, cataloged under the category of "housewives" in national censuses. However, the Political Constitution of the State in its Article 338 that says "The State recognizes the economic value of household work as a source of wealth and must be quantified in public accounts", lays the foundations for implementing specific actions in this regard "( 8). The recognition as a State of these foundational aspects of patriarchal culture, even without resolving what it means in the daily lives of women, is a step forward in the possibility of formulating public policies that tend to search for profound solutions , in the medium and long term.

2. The valorization of peasant agriculture. Faced with the crisis caused by the hunger of millions of people on the planet, family farming has been revalued from different perspectives. FAO established 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). La Via Campesina, despite criticizing the conceptions of FAO, decided to join this campaign, to carry out an intense content dispute within the framework. A CLOC document states: (9) “There is no doubt that this FAO declaration is given in a context of advances in the concepts and proposals that La Via Campesina has presented throughout the more than 20 years of fight around the world. FAO has retraced its steps, to once again trust that it can only fight hunger at the hands of peasant, indigenous and family agriculture… ”.

Ecofeminism activists like Vandana Shiva, who writes in the book Embracing life, contribute proposals in this direction. Women, ecology and survival: (10) “Nature and women have historically been the primary providers of food for natural agriculture, which relies on sustainable flows of fertility from forests and livestock to farmland. The food system has always included in its processes the forest system and the animal system […] The feminine principle in food production is based on the intimate unions that exist between trees, animals and crops, and on the work of women who maintains those links. The work of women in agriculture has traditionally been a task of integrating forestry and livestock with agriculture. Agriculture that is modeled on nature, and is based on the participation of women with nature, has been self-reproducing and sustainable, because internally renewed resources provide the necessary inputs for seeds, moisture, and soil nutrients. and pest control ”.

In the Zapatista communities, subsistence agriculture is part of their policy. In the fifth section of the revolutionary women's law it is stated: "Women and their children have the right to primary care in their health and nutrition." How to ensure this right to food? Within the framework of the Zapatista School, the women of Caracol V, Roberto Barrios, reflect: “In food we saw that in our area it is not far […] that the same companions must follow the custom of our grandparents, as they lived before , what did they eat, what did they eat […] that we don't stop planting what is ours, chayote, yucca, squash… ”(11).

The right to food is linked to traditional, indigenous agriculture, of their peoples, and is sustained by the work of women and the recovery of their knowledge.

The Declaration of the V ° Assembly of Women of the CLOC proposes in this sense: “It was our knowledge that started agriculture. Throughout history, we have continued to be those who have made possible the continuity of food for humanity, who create and transmit much of the knowledge of ancestral medicine, and currently we are the ones who produce most of the food, through despite the usurpation of land and water, and the multiple policies and programs that persistently discriminate and attack us. Today we demand the recognition of our contributions to the production and care tasks and we propose new relationships that allow us to share the burden and responsibility of all of them. Likewise, we reaffirm the importance of peasant and indigenous agriculture for the well-being of all humanity and economic and environmental sustainability on the planet. Without peasant agriculture there is no food and therefore there will be no surviving peoples ”. (12)

3. Guarantee peasant women access to land. The women of La Via Campesina International say in the Declaration of Jakarta: (13) “For us peasant women and indigenous women, the land, in addition to being a means of production, is a space and an environment of life, cultures and emotions, of identity and spirituality. For this reason, it is not a commodity, but a fundamental component of life itself, which is accessed by right, in an inalienable and imprescriptible way, through systems of property, access and enjoyment defined by each people or nation. Equality of men and women in access to land is a fundamental objective to overcome poverty and discrimination. Assuming that access to land must be achieved through the market and as individual property is very far from representing the visions and aspirations of indigenous and peasant women ”.

They are thinking of ways of accessing land that start from the recognition of the historical struggles of women to guarantee a way of life that does not destroy the culture and identity of the peoples, and that does not accept the destruction of common goods in after the gigantic profits of agribusiness and world capitalism.

4. Comprehensive agrarian reform, food sovereignty and agroecology. In an article by the leader of the Landless Movement of Brazil, Marina Dos Santos, the Vía Campesina proposal for Comprehensive Agrarian Reform is based. "It is a form of resistance to the capitalist agriculture model of agro-hydrobusiness and mineral business, and proposes a process of accumulation of forces, with the objective of building a new model of agriculture, focused on the needs of the people." Thus, he synthesizes the pillars of the comprehensive and popular agrarian reform: (14)

to. Democratization of the land: guarantees that the agrarian reform is not only land distribution but also access to all the goods of nature and production in agriculture. This includes everything that is in that territory, such as plants, forests, waters, minerals, seeds and all biodiversity, prohibiting the development of mining extraction projects by companies in the distributed territories, because minerals must be used in sustainably for the benefit of the community and all the people.

b. Organization of agricultural production: prioritize the production of healthy food for the entire population, guaranteeing the principle of food sovereignty, free of pesticides and transgenic seeds. Guarantee energy sovereignty programs in all territories based on alternative renewable energy sources, such as non-edible vegetables, solar, hydraulic and wind energy. Organize production and marketing on the basis of all forms of agricultural cooperation.

c. Develop a new technological matrix for the production and distribution of wealth in agriculture: to demand from the States specific credit, research and financing policies for agricultural production based on agroecology and the increase in labor productivity and areas in balance with nature. Guarantee programs for the reproduction, storage and distribution of native and agroecological seeds produced by peasants, inserted in the country's food sovereignty program. Combat private intellectual property of seeds, animals, natural resources, biodiversity and production systems, as well as combat the production and commercialization of transgenic and agro-toxic seeds in all countries.

d. Industrialization and agricultural policy: develop small agro-industries within the country, ensuring to add value to production and generate more income for the peasant population and promote balanced development among the regions, as well as develop research centers, technical qualification and knowledge exchange, focused on the activities of the agribusiness and environmental preservation.

and. Education: Education is a fundamental right of all people and must be attended to in the very place where they live, respecting all their human and social needs.

F. Fights: Without a deep process of struggle, organization, and pressure from society as a whole, it will not be possible to conquer this project of comprehensive and popular agrarian reform.

The proposal systematized by La Via Campesina constitutes an authentic program not only for agriculture but also to reorient economies based on the interests not only of peasants, but also of the peoples.

In the analyzes carried out by women leaders of peasant movements in Paraguay, the need for the contents of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform to include Gender Equality is specified, being among the proposals made in this regard (15):

* Implementation of a new productive economic model based on agroecology.

* Occupation and recovery of land with the protagonism of women and youth.

* Women leaders at the forefront of occupations.

* Land tenure for peasant producers.

* Property titles in the name of women.

* Equal individual and collective access to property titles.

* Collective land tenure for cooperative projects.

* New models of settlement with women's leadership, because we are "administrators of life."

* Alternative production model with the participation of women in design.

* Diversified production.

* Agroecological production model.

* Recovery of the cultural values ​​of our food.

* Marketing and exchange of production, through permanent fairs in the communities.

* Incentive for self-consumption production.

* Credit for small producers and for alternative production models.

* Equal access for men and women to credit for production.

* Agricultural insurance that covers male and female producers.

* Fight against large companies and for a market insured by the State.

* Own markets so that women can sell their production and achieve their autonomy.

* Creation of cooperatives and economic associations that guarantee markets nationwide.

* Construction of a culture of respect and appreciation of the peasant and indigenous sectors.

* Equality at work for peasant and indigenous men and women.

* Equality of productive-reproductive work.

* Good distribution of time and form of work between women and men.

Political actions. Participation of women in the political discussions of organizations and the occupation of all spaces of power. The articulation of women from various peasant and indigenous organizations in a common space for the analysis and debate of joint actions is proposed.

Comprehensive agrarian reform, food sovereignty, agroecology, defense of seeds, are proposals that go far beyond the economic dimension, to demand cultural changes in society. They question the material basis of private ownership of land, sustained in processes of expropriation of peoples, and of concentration and centralization of capital, and of destruction of nature, and at the same time, the subordination of women in processes of redistribution of that property. They propose to discuss the modes of consumption, the country-city relationship, and the ways of understanding the ancestral memory of our peoples, to rebuild life in the key of emancipation and not destruction. They are part of a life project based on the defense and care of common goods, popular culture, relationships of solidarity and not exploitation between people and in nature. They contribute to the creation of a feminist, socialist perspective, of decolonization of territories and bodies, which makes the encounter between women and the earth a founding moment of re-knowledge of our stories, our identities, and our historical projects as women and as women. peoples.

1 Rural Women’s Day, “Facts on rural women”, available at:
2 Marcela Ballara and Soledad Parada: “The employment of rural women, what the figures say”, ECLAC - FAO, Santiago de Chile, 2009.
3 Interview conducted by the author in May 2016
4 Gender, property and empowerment: land, state and market in Latin America. Carmen Diana Deere. Magdalena Leon.
5 Towards a science of women's liberation. Isabel Larguía. John Dumoulin. Editorial Anagrama.
6 VEM, WE TEÇAMOS A NOSSA LIBERDADE. Women leaders in the Landless Movement. (Ceará - Brazil). Doctoral Thesis in Social and Cultural Anthropology. Maria Carballo Lopez
7 Published as a book: The protagonism of women in social movements. Innovations and challenges. Practices, meanings and social representations of women who participate in Social Movements. Roxana Longo. Edited by América Libre, 2012
9 The CLOC - Via Campesina in the International Year of Family Farming.
10 Vandana Shiva. Hug the life. Woman, ecology and survival. Third World Network.
12ón-de-mujeres-de-la-cloc -la-via-campesina
13 -via-peasant-2
15 -g% C3% A9nero.pdf


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