Monday, August 16, 2010

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South Asian Women gather on Women's Day

South Asian peasant women leaders held a meeting in Kathmandu Nepal on International Women's Day [8th March] to plan their 'End Violence Against Women' campaign. Their declaration is below. 



Declaration of South Asian Women of La Via Campesina
International Women’s Day, Kathmandu, Nepal, 8 March 2010

We the women of La Via Campesina’s South Asian peasant’s movements, namely, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and sisters from Indonesia and Korea, come together on this women’s day in Kathmandu, Nepal to reaffirm and demand the respects of our rights and the complete rejection of the patriarchal system.

We strongly reject the neo-liberal capitalist system based on violence and the marginalization of many for the profits of a few. This system is leading to the displacement of our communities from our lands, the privatization of our seeds, water, knowledge, resulting in loss of biodiversity and the militarization of our lands. Our struggles for our rights and justice are being repressed by neo-liberal forces and the government as their lackeys by the use of state security forces. This system is causing extreme hunger, poverty, and migration. The effect of this system on women is leading to their exploitation and trafficking. Women are facing immense burdens for the survival and well being of their families in the backdrop of marginalization, lack of rights and discrimination.

We recognize that violence against women exists on several fronts. There is violence based on economic dependence and the lack of women’s rights in society. Physical and psychological violence is also entrenched in cultural and religious practices like child marriages, dowry, honor killings, seclusion and forbidden food items, witch killings etc. Women are not equally able to participate in decision making either at the home or in public life both in government and also in social movements. These injustices are unacceptable for the achievement of an egalitarian society.

Therefore on the occasion of this women’s day we have decided to unite our efforts and our struggles to fight for a society based on peace and dignity for all.

We South Asian peasant women reaffirm our commitment to the following:-

-         Continue our struggle against patriarchy and neo-liberalism.

-         Condemn all forms of violence against women and commit to break the culture of silence surrounding violence against women.

-          Increase education and consciousness raising among women and men on the causes of violence and find ways to confront them in common.

-         Pressurize governments for the effective implementation of all the laws, acts & statues to achieve gender equality.

-         Pressurize government to punish committers of rape, dowry killings, female infanticide/ feticide severely.

-         Respect for women’s reproductive rights.

-         Decision making power and equal participation of women at all levels – from the home to the national level and especially within our movements and organizations.

-         Equal rights over property and access to productive resources like land, water and seeds.

-         Promote peasants based sustainable agro-ecological methods of farming and ban green revolution technologies like GMOs. Peasants based agriculture is the only solution to climate change and peasant’s role as the guardians of seeds, water, soils and biodiversity should be recognized.

-         Show solidarity with our sisters in conflict areas. Women are more vulnerable to violence and bear an undue burden and risk. Special protection programs should be created to address women’s issues in conflict areas.

-         Opportunities for youth to continue a dignified life based on agriculture and have pride in peasant culture. Agriculture is the culture and livelihood of the majority of South Asian people however we are being forced to migrate to cities and leave our agriculture and our communities.

-         Equal wages for equal work. It is unacceptable that women are paid lesser when they work on par with their male counter parts. Women have more responsibilities for the well being of their families and household responsibilities.

-         Support women that are forced into sex work both culturally and economically to find security, alternative and dignified work opportunities instead of facing condemnation.

-         Food sovereignty, peasants’ rights and equal access to land. These are absolutely necessary for a vibrant peasant culture and a society based on justice, peace and dignity.


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