SE084 The impact of extractivism on women's right to food and the struggle for a just transition: Addressing root causes of violence against women and the way ahead for concrete solutions towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda

Organizers

  • CFS Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples' Mechanism (CSM)

The world is at a crisis point with an ecological, climate and food crisis intersecting to create a dangerous spiral. Extractivism is at the centre of these multiple crisis where humans are extracting more than we need from the soils, nature, mines. Women are at the forefront bearing witness to these, suffering increased violence, lack of labour rights, increase in unpaid care, increase in persecution all affecting and undermining their right to food and live with dignity.

Extractivism is a highly exploitative and ecologically destructive model of development, characterised by the large-scale extraction, grabbing and exploitation of natural resources such as oil, water, minerals and forests, around which the economy, social relations of class and gender, state policy and public discourse are organised (WoMin). Thousands of communities all over the world are deprived of access and control over the natural resources and their power to be self-sufficient, they depend upon for nutrition and livelihoods due to the presence of extractive industries on their territories. This story also repeats itself on many plantations, some destroying our ecoystems, and impacting women's health and food security through the use of monocultures, pesticides and threat of violence.

As the costs of environmental and health damages linked to extractivism are externalized, women are those the carry the heaviest burden: as care-givers, they deal with the health risks associated with extractivism, such as diseased caused by exposure to polluted environment and waterways, or injuries caused by the lack of proper labour safety measure, women are also left with caring for their family members whose health is impacted by chemicals from mining or large scale extractive farming; as food providers, women face the loss of agricultural land and access to natural resources, reducing their families food security; as vulnerable group within their communities, women often do not have secure tenure and are excluded by the decision-making impacting their lives.

Nevertheless, women are also at the forefront of the struggle against extractivism and in defense of their territories, land and natural resources their communities depend upon. From Berta Caceres in Honduras losing her life to protect her river, to the women of the Amadiba Crisis Committee in South Africa fighting to assert their right to say no to mining, women are building a movement. This side event intends to explore the current situation and the possible solutions to revert this dramatic trend highlighting the concrete proposals for a just transition towards sustainable and just food systems and livelihoods. It also intends to highlight the relevant role CFS could play by addressing such an important issue in the framework of its upcoming policy work.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Ms. Samantha Hargreaves, Womin, South Africa
  • Ms. Chaturika Sewwandi, Vikalpani National Women’s Federation, Sri Lanka
  • Ms. Laura Hurtado, Country Director, ActionAid Guatemala (over phone from Geneva)
  • Ms. Dercy Teles de Carvalho Cunha, President of the Rural Women’s Union of the municipality of Xapuri and President of the Association of Small Farmers, Amazon, Brazil
  • Ms. Maria, video-testimony from women human rights defender, from
  • MICQB, Cerrado, Brazil

Moderation

  • Ms. Azra Sayeed, International Women’s Alliance and Co-coordinator of the CSM Women’s Constituency, Pakistan

Main themes/issues discussed 

  • The world is at a crisis point with an ecological, climate and food crisis intersecting to create a dangerous spiral.
  • Extractivism is at the centre of these multiple crises where humans are extracting more than we need from the soils, nature, mines.
  • Women are at the forefront bearing witness to these, suffering increased violence, lack of labour rights, increase in unpaid care, increase in persecution all affecting and undermining their right to food and live with dignity.
  • Addressing root causes of violence against women is therefore fundamental to ensure the full realization of women’s right to food.
  • There is a strong link between extractivism, colonialism and natural resources exploitation that cannot be ignored.
  • Nevertheless, women are also at the forefront of the struggle against extractivism and in defense of their territories, land and natural resources their communities depend upon.

Summary of key points

  • The benefits of mining, oil, gas, big infrastructure, monoculture plantations are not held locally, all costs of this extractivist model are carried by local communities, women in particular.
  • Violence in large scale extractivism is often sexualised, with rape used as a tool of control against communities who opposed such projects. Other impacts include – loss of land, livelihoods, access to sea, water, and other natural and productive resources.
  • Extractivism has huge impact on climate change, with decimation of indigenous forests, burning of coal, destroying homes and cultures. To address ecological and climate crisis – we must contest the idea that development equals growth. Public policies strongly anchored on human rights are needed fostering the women’s agency and right to self-determination.
  • Communities are violently evicted from land, impacting particularly women’s right to food (Guatemala and Brazil). The current negotiations in Geneva on a binding treaty for Transnational Corporations are a fundamental part of the work towards the progressive realization of the Right to Food.
  • We need to look at the intergenerational costs of large infrastructure projects
  • The sexualized nature of violence against women within large scale extractives is evidenced in all regions of the planet (mining, monocultures).  The costs of environmental and health damages linked to extractivism are externalized, women are those the carry the heaviest burden: as care-givers, they deal with the health risks associated with extractivism, such as diseased caused by exposure to polluted environment and waterways, or injuries caused by the lack of proper labour safety measure, women are also left with caring for their family members whose health is impacted by chemicals from mining or large scale extractive farming; as food providers, women face the loss of agricultural land and access to natural resources, reducing their families food security; as vulnerable group within their communities, women often do not have secure tenure and are excluded by the decision-making impacting their lives.  

MICQ video  - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKMB22m3f4I

Key take away messages

  • Extractivism is leading to violation of right to food, and women’s rights, leading to increase in violence against women and nature. We have the alternatives – indigenous peoples have been living in harmony with nature, women hold the traditional knowledge and are in many cases due to their gender ascribed roles, guardians of nature.
  • Women are at the forefront of the battle for nature against corporate control over resources – minerals, forests, water, land, knowledge. Human Rights based approaches should strongly inform many policies.
  • In order for CFS to implement its vision, we must ensure changes in the way resources are extracted from nature in a colonial manner. We must engage local communities, especially women,  in designing and implement developing alternatives towards a feminist just transition.
  • The upcoming CFS workstream on gender equality and women’s empowerment cannot ignore the consequences of extractivist projects on women’s right to food and food security and nutrition.
  • A just transition needs to be embedded in a strong ecofeminism perspective. The Mogale Declaration offers already a charter on how this just transition could looked like putting at the center the protection of commons and women’s rights.
CFS 46 Side Event: SE084 The impact of extractivism on women’s right to food and the struggle for a just transition

 

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