Women, Food and Agriculture in Beijing
Kathy Lawrence (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mon, 6 Feb 1995 07:34:24 -0800
FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT:
LINKS TO THE FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN
March 21, 1:00-5:00 p.m.
UN Conference Room
To be Announced
Nowhere among the critical areas of concern outlined in the UN
Platform for Action are food, agriculture or rural development
issues explicitly mentioned. This despite the facts that
agricultural is essential to both rural and urban development;
food security is a fundamental prerequisite for human
development; and food and agriculture systems have tremendous
implications for women's health and nutrition, economic and
legal status, training and education, employment and the
Women the world over are actively engaged in producing food,
fuel and fibre as well as contributing significantly to
development of their local and national economies. Yet their
expertise, contributions and concerns are seldom represented in
the formulation and implementation of the agriculture and food
policies that directly affect their lives and livelihoods. In
the U.S. in 1992, for example, 82% of the senior level positions
in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and 97% of agriculture
researchers were men, and an astonishing 98% of the local
officials running USDA county and state committees were white
In the years since UNCED, networks made up of and serving
sustainable agriculture and women in environment and development
communities have broadened and strengthened. Yet there has been
little interaction between these networks, and gender analysis
and women's perspectives are still weak in the ongoing
discussions of sustainable agriculture, food security and rural
This workshop will provide opportunities for women active in the
sustainable agriculture and rural development communities in the
U.S. to connect with women from around the world working on
these issues, as well as with official delegates to the PrepCom.
THE WORKSHOP WILL FOCUS ON:
- Illustrating the links between food, agriculture and rural
development issues and relevant critical areas of concern
in the UN Platform for Action (specifically those dealing
with economic structures, the productive process, managing
natural resources and safeguarding the environment);
- Providing a forum for women farmers, farmworkers and rural
women of color to relate their own experiences to the
stated goals of the Fourth UN Conference on Women,
highlighting the need to include concrete actions to
promote sustainable food systems in the Platform for
Action, based on demonstrated local successes and
- Facilitating dialogue with government delegates and
representatives of international agencies;
- Compiling written food system "case studies" and successful
local initiatives to share with official and NGO
WE ENVISION THE WORKSHOP IN THREE DISTINCT PARTS:
- NGO-Government Roundtable on linkages, local initiatives,
policy implications and concrete recommendations for action
- NGO sharing of experience / mapping out of common ground
- Strategy session for policy and actions at local, national
and international levels, including concrete planning for
cooperation on food system-related events at the UN
Commission on Sustainable Development in April, Beijing in
August/September and other upcoming events.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Women, Food and Agriculture Working Group
10 Prospect Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217-2803
Tel/Fax: 718 622 0746
Rural Development Leadership Network
P.O. Box 98 Prince Street Station
New York, NY 10012
Tel: 212 777 9137
Fax: 212 477 0367
ABOUT THE WOMEN, FOOD AND AGRICULTURE WORKING GROUP (WFA):
The Working Group is a broad-based group of nearly 100 women and
men knowledgeable and active in food, agriculture and rural
development issues who have indicated an interest in working
together to achieve common goals.
WFA'S OVERALL GOALS ARE TO:
- Promote women's central role in sustainable food and
agriculture policy formulation, decision-making and
implementation at all levels (local, national and
- Increase understanding of and support for women's roles in
achieving agricultural sustainability, food security and
rural development, and to build the capacity of women to
participate actively in the formulation, development and
implementation of local, national and international
agriculture and food policies and programmes. At the same
time it will work to ensure that these issues are addressed
in a holistic manner and are not marginalized as solely
- encourage and facilitate cross-fertilization among various
sectors [e.g. women's networks and sustainable agriculture
networks; farmers and farm groups; development
practitioners; organizations working on health, nutrition,
hunger, food security, environmental justice, labor and
human rights; academia, research and extension; government
and UN agencies] as well as among countries and regions.
- broaden the diversity of voices, particularly those of
grassroots women represented in international fora
addressing food and agriculture policy (e.g. UNDP and FAO
agriculture policies and programmes, Agenda 21 follow up,
the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, etc). The
Working Group will help participants develop concrete means
by which local level initiatives and concerns can inform
and influence domestic national and international policy
formulation and implementation.
OBJECTIVES AND PRIORITIES FOR 1995
1) Build the capacity of rural women, farmers and farmworkers
in the U.S. to promote sustainability and justice in our food
system and create concrete, effective channels for local level
initiatives and concerns to inform public policy making at all
levels (local, state, national, international).
2) Foster connections between women's organizations and
sustainable agriculture groups; highlight agriculture and rural
development issues in the women's agenda, and gender issues in
the sustainable agriculture arena.
3) Raise the awareness of the U.S. administration, government
delegates to the UN and the general public regarding gender,
sustainable agriculture and food issues and the connections
between local, national and international policies.
4) Send the message to U.S. policy makers that American women,
farmers and rural citizens are informed and ready to take an
active role in implementing commitments made in such agreements
as Agenda 21.
5) Hold government agencies to these more progressive policies
agreed to at the international level to reverse the negative
social, economic and environmental impacts of agricultural
industrialization. At present significant channels of
accountability and policy influence are not being used.
6) Increase public understanding of sustainable agriculture as
an essential part of sustainable development/communities and of
the positive contributions citizens can make.
7) Connect and cooperate with similar efforts in other
countries and regions.
8) Provide a framework for determining priorities and taking
action on all of these issues.
STRATEGIES / ACTIONS
ESTABLISH CORE GROUP with at least one representative each of
women farmers, farm workers and rural women of color who are
active in local, state or national networks and organizations to
make the connections to international policy. The objective is
to create a "multiplier effect" and continue to spread knowledge
and opportunities for involvement.
TRAINING to familiarize core group with UN system and the role
of civil society. Facilitate hands-on participatory analysis of
problems, solutions and ways to create change. Explore how
international meetings can be used to strengthen regional and
national efforts and alliances.
BUILD COMMON GROUND: Further refine position paper(s) with
critical analysis of food and agriculture system and concrete,
action-oriented policy recommendations; circulate widely for
input and endorsements, beginning in the U.S. and building
towards an international South-North-East-West statement in
ADVOCACY: Facilitate representation of grassroots women at
international meetings; organize government/NGO* sessions on
food system issues; organize and participate in NGO-NGO sessions
on agriculture, economics, development, etc. to broaden exposure
and make connections.
FARMER-TO-FARMER EXCHANGE: Provide forum for women, food and
agriculture issues, events, displays and sharing of experience
at the NGO Forum on Women in Beijing, August-September, 1995;
arrange for farm visits in China; facilitate grassroots
participation in government-international agency-NGO workshops.
PUBLIC AND POLICY-MAKER EDUCATION: Develop and disseminate
project profiles/case studies on *what works*. Share
demonstrated grassroots successes as well as the obstacles faced
and policy changes needed to enhance progress toward
sustainable, just and healthy food systems. Develop media
strategy to get the word out.
NETWORKING: Establish regular communication channels among core
group and their organizations. Expand core group over time.
Build and maintain contacts with groups and individuals in other
countries who are active in women and sustainable food systems
issues. Circulate statements, action alerts, and organize
further action in such arenas as the World Food Day meetings in
Quebec, October 1995 and the World Food Summit in Rome March
HOW CAN YOU PARTICIPATE?
- Join the WFA network, share information on what you are
doing and what we are doing. Organize meetings to inform people
of upcoming international events and the linkages to U.S. local
and national issues.
- Read WFA statements, make suggestions for improvements and
give us your endorsement (individual or organizational).
Circulate statements within your community and networks for
additional endorsements. We need to signal that there is a
substantial and growing constituency for real change in the food
and agriculture system and that women are at the forefront!
- Send in a case study, success story or project profile.
Contact Kathy Lawrence for details.
- Participate in WFA meetings and events, make your voice
- Let us know of other ways you would like to participate.
THE WOMEN, FOOD AND AGRICULTURE WORKING GROUP IS AN ALL-
VOLUNTEER EFFORT that seeks to build on and enhance
participants' strengths and efforts. We also look to
participants for in-kind contributions of time, mailings and if
possible, dues for participation. Please see attached WFA
*NGO = Non-Governmental Organization (includes non-profits,
grassroots organizations, peoples organizations, etc.)
For further information, contact:
* Kathy Lawrence *
* Women, Food and Agriculture Working Group *
* 10 Prospect Place *
* Brooklyn, NY 11217-2803 USA *
* Tel: 718-622-0746 *
* Fax: 212-431-4427 *
* Email: email@example.com *