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Elizabeth Mpofu is the Chair of the Small Organic Farmer’s Forum of Zimbabwe, the country that will host the operational secretariat of Via Campesina, and is participating in the 4th Women’s Assembly of the peasant network.
In an interview with Real World Radio, Elizabeth said that the women of Via Campesina Africa aim at highlighting the role of women in most of the issues and challenges discussed during the first conferences, such as land-grabbing and neoliberal policies: challenges women are also facing. Elizabeth insists on the rights denied to women, and how on many situations, women are left in a situation of insecurity when their husbands die and they have to take care of their children and land.
The second day of discussions at the assembly focused on the global context, especially violence against women, for example how women are often forced to have sex in order for them to get a job. Women are also demanding a deep change in national policies about traditional marriages, which should be recognized and respected, according to Elizabeth.
When asked about the cultural argument used to maintain violence against women, she said that effectively women have less access to the rights enjoyed by men, for instance on education, and that men are paid better salaries and are given more responsibilities than women at the same position. So, according to Elizabeth, the main message the women from Via Campesina want to convey is that “Women can do it. That is we are campaigning for. (…) We should be treated at the same level as men».
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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