|Women's World Summit Foundation and Prizes for Women's Creativity in Rural Life (WWSF, 40 p.)|
Open Letter to Rural Women of the World:
Human Rights for all Rural Women
On the occasion of World Rural Women's Day 15 October 1998
For thousands of years, you have produced your own food and guaranteed food security for your children and communities. What an achievement! Yes, you feed the world (as stated by the FAO on the occasion of World Food Day). Yes, you are central to food security and you are leaders in the movement for 'safe food' and safeguarding bio-diversity, but you do not enjoy all your human rights.
This Day is meant to empower you to claim your human rights,
especially your right to development, to health and well-being, including food,
clothing, housing and medical care, your right to human dignity, quality of
life, and peace, all guaranteed by the International Bill of Human Rights
You have the right and obligation to first ensure the nutritional basis for you and your family. You have a track record of having taken responsibility for food production, management and consumption into your own hands. Eradicating your poverty is a problem of income and not just a production problem.
You have a right to land and productive resources, to education, information know-how, to credit and reasonable income for your work. Claim it! Your involvement in rural and farmer's organizations and cooperatives at all levels is essential to undertake concerted action and voice your opinion and rights to governments participation in decisions affecting your lives is critical if you are to meet future challenges in food and agriculture affecting the well-being of your rural populations.
On a global scale, you produce more than half of all the food
that is grown (up to 80 percent of basic foodstuffs in Africa; 60 percent in
Asia; between 30-40 in Latin America and Western countries). In many parts of
the world your home gardens represent some of the most complex
You are the preservers of traditional knowledge of indigenous plants, and you recognize the importance of forests as the source of food, fodder, medicinal and many other products used in the household thereby responding to the requirements of small producers and family enterprises. This proves your particular interest in sustainable development and in preserving the environment.
You are with good reason fighting the monopoly control of seeds which will threaten biodiversity thus exercising stewardship for the whole planet. You also work to change models of development and trade.
Despite your contributions to farming, forestry and fishing,
despite you holding household food security and often being the sole family
provider, despite you working more hours per day and harder than most men, you
remain invisible and unrecognized and many people still perceive you as inactive
Your work is not recorded in statistics nor mentioned in reports. In fact, most of your work goes unrewarded and research, development programs and investments often by-passed you in the past. This must change. You prove daily to be creative partners in development, dynamic and courageous. You play a critical role in feeding a rapidly increasing population and represent a formidable potential that could help in meeting the challenges of food security in the 21st century. You, rural women of the world, are the true heroines of our planet.
You do more, with the least means, than any other group of people in the world.
World Rural Women's Day was created for you to help you make your contributions shine in your communities and receive due acknowledgment and support. It is a Day to assert yourselves, establish linkages and promote solidarity. We honor you courageous and creative rural women of the world!
Elly Pradervand, Global Campaign Coordinator - World Rural Women's Day - 15 October