A Message from the Organized Women of Chalatenango Facing the Food Crisis

July 14, 2011

At a recent Forum on Food Justice sponsored by Oxfam, Sonía Alemán, representing hundreds of organized women in Chalatenango, read the following message about food security in Chalatenango.  The message was collectively written by twenty women leaders of SHARE counterpart the CCR.  SHARE is currently working with the CCR on a project called Women’s Empowerment through Food Security and Microfinance.

A translation of Sonía’s message:

As organized rural women, we recognize ourselves as protagonists of life in this country. We bring food to our families.

I, Sonia Alemán, rural woman and preserver of life, wish to share reflections that, with other rural women from Chalatenango, we have in relation to the serious food crisis we face.

Despite our own efforts and those of our families, dedicated to farming life, organized women believe that in our rural communities, we are unable to ensure healthy food for our families.

In our communities, we are able to produce at least corn and beans.  But we understand that a complete diet is more than that—we need food in both quantity and quality to nourish our bodies, so that our sons and daughters can grow healthy and strong.

Currently, women face many difficulties to provide food for our homes.

In the first place, we do not have secure access to land to grow.  In addition, it is impoverished land, sick and polluted.  This effects especially women, as the majority of fertile land owners are right, and it is almost always men that enjoy the right to property, although it is us women who work the land.

It is useless to have the desire to plant if we don’t even have land.

Secondly, we see with great concern how changes in the climate affect us.  Our crops rot from too much rain, or they dry out because of not enough water.

When the weather forces us to re-plant, it means double the work.  More importantly, it is double the cost, reflected in plates with less food.

Thirdly, while we recognize that the government has provided support in distributing seeds and a small amount of fertilizer, it means we have to continue buying inputs to raise those seeds, with more fertilizer and other products.  In other words, rural farming families are tied to purchasing expensive agricultural goods, continuing dependence on big businesses and benefiting the same as always.

Food prices rise almost daily, but worse, there is scarcity.  Even when we have the money to buy beans and corn—although often we do not—we cannot always find someone to buy from.

There is no food security when our communities are dependent on big businesses, when they do business with food or with the supplies to produce it. Imposing prices at their will and for the benefit of private profits.

In addition to these concerns, we do not see policies or a government plan with clear, defined strategies to support women as we confront theis serious food crisis.

As rural women, we have our own community initiatives; we fight together in an organized fashion for healthy nutrition.  In our communities, we are taking steps forward, but we know that assuring food is a long-term process.

We are women working very hard to ensure food for today, but we also want to assure food and ways of life for future generations.  We want to exercise our right to decide what to eat, what to plant and how to do so, in addition to recovering our native seeds, knowledge and customs with a vision of respect, care and protection of the environment.

We invite you to reflect about the seriousness of the food crisis in our communities and our impoverished countries, and we demand the following:

  • Recognition of rural family agriculture and the role of women in it.  Recognize women’s role and contribution to the national economy, as we ensure the production of food for our families and communities.
  • That the government establish price control of foods to avoid the abuse and enrichment of the few at the cost of hunger for many
  • That the state guarantee women access to land, with actions that assure equality in ownership and use
  • That the production of food at the family level and in the hands of women be financed by the state, in the same way that healthcare and education are financed, thereby ensuring fulfillment of the right to a healthy diet
  • That there be effective policies that guarantee water as a common good, avoiding the growing tendency towards privatization
  • That there be public policies that guarantee care and protection of the environment and that the contamination of our water, soil, animals and plants be detained
  • That those projects with threaten present and future life of our families and communities, including major highways, dams, mines and large fields to cultivate for fuel, be stopped.

Let us fight together for food security and sovereignty in El Salvador!

 

Learn more about food security issues in El Salvador on our website or make a donation to support our projects working for sustainable change in regions like Chalatenango that are effected by the food crisis.


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