Elizabeth Mpofu

“Rural women and girls play an important role in agriculture but have been marginalized in policymaking processes, economic empowerment programmes and decision making.”

Zimbabwe

Making sure that women’s voices are heard in decision-making processes which affect their livelihoods. This is a key motivation behind the work of Elizabeth Mpofu, a farmer in Zimbabwe and General Coordinator of the international farm workers’ movement La Via Campesina.

La Via Campesina represents more than 200 million farmers in 73 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Mpofu has established other groups for organic farmers and was the FAO Special Ambassador in Africa for Pulses in 2016 during the International Year of Pulses.

Mpofu grew up in a rural community where advanced schooling was not an option for her as a girl. She went into farming to survive, like her parents and grandparents before her. But Mpofu came to realize that farming could open doors as a significant source of livelihoods for rural and marginalized communities, especially women.

Today, she defends rural agriculture as a key to self-justice and dignity. She promotes agroecological-based farming that protects and provides ecosystem services and the use of local, indigenous seeds. Through activism, she works to protect social relationships and natural resources linked to agriculture which she says, are at risk of being overwhelmed by large, corporate-driven farming processes. “Women are farmers, mothers, and caregivers who understand the nutritional needs of the family and the soil on which their food grows”

FAO supports the effective participation of La Via Campesina and other civil society groups in political processes at different levels and promotes dialogue which leads to the design of sustainable local initiatives, projects and emergency interventions.

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