Uplifting feminist voices inside the agroecological movement – CIDSE

Uplifting feminist voices inside the agroecological movement

Celebrating International Women’s Rights Day uplifting feminist voices inside the agroecological movement 

Two years ago, on International Women’s Rights Day, CIDSE and the AgroecologyNow group at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) of Coventry University, launched the first episode of a podcast mini-series on feminist agroecology to celebrate people who advocate for agroecology and food sovereignty, by incorporating feminist values. Today, after having released all the episodes, we share a playlist and a recap of what our journey has taught us.  

“What food systems would look like if they were based on feminist values?“ This was the question that kicked off our podcast mini-series titled “A journey through feminist agroecology ”. The issue of feminism and agroecology is emerging in debates around the food system and is gaining momentum as a fundamental pillar of a sustainable, just and healthy food system. However, we noticed that there is still ample confusion about why the feminist perspective is important, how it aligns with agroecology and what it can contribute to food system transformation.  

To help us answer these questions, we interviewed seven activists, researchers and practitioners from Latin America, North America, Africa and Europe, who each shared their individual journeys in bringing a feminist approach to agroecology and food sovereignty. Together with them, we questioned not only the food system and the inequalities it is built upon but also ourselves and our roles as organisations advocating for/working towards food system transformation.  

The podcast mini-series is the result of a collaboration between CIDSE and the AgroecologyNow group at CAWR. It builds on previous work on feminism and agroecology namely the publication of a special issue of the Farming Matters Magazine entitled “Agroecology and Feminism: Transforming our economy and society” a joint project with the AgriCultures Network and Cultivate! (2020).  

In the first episode (31:14 minutes, also available in Spanish), Diana Trevilla (a feminist agroecologist from Mexico & co-founder of Agroecologists in Movement) and Isabel Álvarez (a food sovereignty expert and agroecologist from Spain) helped us unpack the ways in which it is necessary to go beyond gender for food system transformation, what is needed and how it can be done in practice.  

We continued our journey with the second episode (42:40 minutes), which explores food sovereignty and indigenous feminisms in the context of North America. We interviewed Lisa Ironcloud, Priscilla Settee and Simone Senogles, three amazing Native American women, who  gave insights into the historical legacy behind the discrimination and intersectional, colonial violence against food and women.  

Finally, in the third episode (29:30 minutes), we wondered if food sovereignty and agroecology movements reproduce the very power relations they claim to be working to eradicate. We interviewed Leonida Odongo, activist in the peasant movement in Kenya and internationally who brings the gendered local realities of the communities she works with, and Paula Gioia, a peasant farmer and beekeeper based in Germany. Like Leonida, Paula is active in the peasant movement, where they actively bring to light issues related to discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people in agriculture and food sovereignty. Both share with us how they experience patriarchal behavior within the movement. 

Our journey through feminist agroecology has taught us many valuable insights and lessons that will continue to inform our advocacy and storytelling work in the years to come. In CIDSE’s current strategy, we are committed to advancing an intersectional feminist approach and analysis as a cross-cutting systemic lens in all our thematic areas of work. This podcast project gave us a unique opportunity to deepen and broaden our knowledge and understanding of feminist agroecology, and to explore what it could look liketo apply this approach and analysis more concretely in our work on food sovereignty and land justice.  

Feminism and agroecology are not just two connected ‘issues’, they are inherently intertwined. A feminist food system is not possible without a transformative change in the system itself – away from a capitalist, profit-based system to one centered on life and care. However, it is equally important to transform our ways of working from within the food sovereignty and agroecological movements (as they are not inherently feminist). Actively bringing feminist values into these spaces encourages the active participation and leadership of all members of these groups, through inclusivity and facilitating accessibility, especially for those who are often excluded and marginalised. We believe that agroecology can bring positive change to our food systems and transform them to be just and equitable, then strengthening our systemic change approach is imperative.  

This project would not have been possible without the incredible insights shared by our interviewees during extensive hours of conversation, and the amazingwork of our colleagues, Jessica Milgroom and Csilla Kiss  from the Agroecology Now group of the CAWR at Coventry University who initiated the collaboration on this project and took the lead on the first two episodes. From the CIDSE team, we wish to thank  specifically our colleagues  Nicky Broeckhoven and Carmen Contreras, for their continued support to the podcast series and for taking the lead on the third and final episode, to former CIDSE colleagues Valentina Pavarotti and Vincent Dauby  for their precious support in the earlier stages of the podcast development and to Anya Verkamp who together with Nicole Pita generously helped us out with the voice-overs for episode one. We would also like to thank Bulle Media, the podcast production company that accompanied us on this journey and Virginia Pineda Ogalla for the illustrations. 

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