Woman peasant: guardians of the world’s genetic resources and biodiversity

11/11/2004
Human Rights Commission

Statement on Item 12: Integration of the human rights of women and the gender perspective: (a) Violence against women. Oral Statement by CETIM.



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Mr. Chairman,

The Woman peasant has a long tradition of harvesting, selecting and propagating varieties of seed for both nutritional and medical purposes. They are the principle guardians of the world’s genetic resources and biodiversity. The traditional knowledge should be honored and respected and the skills passed on to new generations. The future of the human race depends on this.

The current process of globalisation brings with it great threats to the countryside, the environment, traditional cultures and models of production, to make space for the univerzalisation of massive centers of Genetically Modified productions far from the ideal of sustainability.

This process which imposes patterns of life on women who are already facing sexual discrimination, continues to affect them. On March 10, 2004 six Indonesian peasants were shot to death by the police at East Nusa Tenggara province in the land conflict. In Brazil, during the first half of 2003, 31 peasants were killed in the land conflict by military or armed groups of big landowners or corporations.

World wide, estimations indicate that 842 million people suffer from chronic, persistent hunger, one-seventh of human family. Millions of people including 6 million children under the age of five die from hunger each year. Furthermore, the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides directly affect the health of the producers and mostly women, who do not benefit from a social security system to provide them with adequate attention.

The CETIM support the peasants and the women peasants in Via Campesina demands for:

1. The immediate implementation of genuine agrarian reforms which allow for the fair distribution of incomes, access for the poor to land and natural resources which have been appropriated by transnational corporations and local elite, and for new management models which place human needs before profits.

2. The immediate adoption of the proposal on food sovereignty, as also supported by the Special Rapporteur on right to food, for hunger eradication.

3. International and state entities should develop programs and direct resources to achieve the recuperation of healthy seeds, the revitalisation of farmland, the protection of water resources and the use of the organic fertilisers to revive agricultural production and guarantee sustainability.

4. The use of the pesticides should be strongly combated, these are harmful to agricultural workers and communities and the consumers.

5. Studying by the Human Rights Commission for the next years the proposal of elaborating a Convention on the Rights of Peasants.

Thank you.


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