From May 28th to May 30th, 2013, the organization Women Deliver will host their annual conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where international leaders in women’s health and empowerment will discuss solutions to address challenges facing women all over the globe. This week, Food Tank will feature different initiatives across the world that are working to empower women in the food system.
According to research from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the protection of women’s rights can increase food security and ultimately improve the way we feed the world. These seven initiatives across North America are working to protect gender equality and encourage women’s participation in agriculture and the food system.
1. Women, Food & Agriculture Network – The Women, Food & Agriculture Network is a network of women across the U.S. involved in sustainable agriculture. WFAN isn’t just for female producers – it brings together researchers, students, advocates, and many more. WFAN offers support for its members by increasing information sharing and educational opportunities, and opening communication and networking channels.
2. Rural Women Making Change – In 2005, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada founded the Rural Women Making Change (RWMC) initiative in order to support broad research into issues that impact rural women within Canada. The RWMC is organized into eight research teams investigating three broad topics, including the day-to-day work of rural women’s organizations, the everyday experiences of rural women and girls, and the impact of gender and rural policy on women.
3. Peñon de los Baños – Located in the town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, this sustainable and organic farming cooperative is owned and operated entirely by women. Through their organization, Sociedad de Producción Rural (SPR) (English translation: Society for Rural Production), these women operate a dairy farm and nine greenhouses that grow produce using organic compost and drip irrigation. They formed the cooperative to compete with industrial agriculture operations in the surrounding area, and to save some of the desirable farmland in the region from being bought up by foreign investors.
4. Jenga Mwendo, founder of the Backyard Gardeners Network – Jenga Mwendo is a community organizer working to increase access to healthy foods in New Orleans. After Katrina dispersed her family and devastated her hometown, Mwendo moved back to New Orleans to help the city rebuild. She launched the Backyard Gardeners Network to support community gardening efforts in the Lower 9th Ward.
5. British Columbia Farm Women’s Network – The British Columbia Farm Women’s Network seeks to bring female agriculture producers together for networking and education opportunities. The Network offers financial support, hosts agriculture seminars, and hopes to help establish an integrated voice to support women farmers in Canada.
6. Líderes Campesinas – Using data from the World Health Organization (WHO), FAO’s report on Rural Women and the Millennium Goals showed that rural women – who make up the vast majority of women in agriculture – are more likely to suffer incidences of abuse. This coalition of women farmers in California is working to improve the public support system for female agricultural workers who have been victims of sexual assault and/or domestic abuse.
7. Plate to Politics – Formed through a partnership between Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) and the Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN), Plate to Politics brings women working in sustainable agriculture into the American political system and increases the number of women farmers and food advocates in leadership positions. The initiative provides a network of support for women sustainable food producers and helps them run for elected office and influence American food and agriculture policy.