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The first table of the 3rd Food Sovereignty, Education and Territoriality Forum held in Uruguay, on November 11, focused on the issue of Territorial Food Sovereignty. Karin Nansen, member of REDES - Friends of the Earth Uruguay, one of the organizers of the forum, focused her presentation on the role of women in Food Sovereignty.
"We are in the middle of a collective thinking process with a need to look at family from a different perspective", said Nansen. She also explained what we understand for food sovereignty : "It´s the right we have as peoples to control our own food systems, which implies being able to decide what to produce, how to produce it and distribute it, and therefore, to radically change production relations, it is about seeing how to we recover the control we´ve lost in these production relations".
In April, 2015, the Uruguayan Colonization Institute decided to implement joint ownership for married couples and de facto unions to allocate leased fractions of land. The environmental activist considered this measure was extremely positive: "Co-ownership of land is extremely important. We see how it is possible to question, challenge and build relationships where women have land rights and guarantees taking as a basis a public policy. The right to land gets us closer to deciding what to do in the lands. Many times women don´t have the possibility to decide what to do in the lands, which is a fundamental right".
In addition to the consequences of lacking power to decide what to produce in the territories, Nansen made reference to another issue related to the unequal land ownership relations: "Over 40% of rural women in Latin America don´t have their own income. Why is that? Is it because women don´t work in rural areas? No, we see that women´s work days are endless. But this work is not recognized. It is not recognized as a productive, economic work. This is because patriarchalism and capitalism created this gap between reproduction and production. This makes it necessary to discuss how value is assigned. A value associated to the market value is imposed on us".
One of the key elements of food sovereignty, said Nansen, is that food is not a commodity and "women have led a struggle challenging the treatment of food as commodities. The challenge is how to distribute the functions of care. And public policies must ensure more equity and social justice".
When speaking of a movement for food sovereignty, she recognized as a positive element that "women have learned a lot with other women, and they have learned to organize themselves. They have learned that these relations are not fixed, that they can change". And in the context of this learning and organization, she said that "women of La Via Campesina arrive to the proposal of a peasant and popular feminism because they consider that there is a need to integrate the class dimension, questioning the capitalist economy and patriarchal relations".
Lastly, the environmental activist highlighted the importance of the role of the State in these rural transformation processes: "The State needs to act in a clear way, based on a clear ideological basis to combat these unequal relations. We´ve learned that the market does not free ourselves, our freedom comes hand in hand with a process of appropriation of public policy by the peoples".
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