ASUNCION – Rural women in Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from multiple forms of violence, including from government institutions that ignore them as individuals with legal rights, an expert with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization told EFE on Thursday.
Emma Siliprandi participated this week in the first international congress on fair trade and food sovereignty, an event in the Paraguayan capital organized by the National University of Asuncion with the backing of the FAO and UN Women.
The expert, who is coordinating a project to support the FAO’s food security policies in Latin America and the Caribbean, said public institutions occasionally do not acknowledge rural women as individuals with rights and control over their own lives, a lack of recognition that amounts to “state violence.”
“States need to grant rural women the possibility of having lands in their name, direct technical assistance programs their way, provide them with financing and offer them their own channels for marketing their products,” Siliprandi said.
Rural women have less access to lands and support for agricultural production and therefore are “the poorest of the poor,” she added.
They also suffer from malnutrition, as well as obesity and overweight stemming from their lack of access to fruit, vegetables and other quality food.
Siliprandi said rural women need to be seen as “agricultural entrepreneurs” and not simply as the wives of farm producers.
She argued that women, due to traditional gender roles, are experts on nutrition and health, including food preparation and caring for the sick.
That equips them to work the land in a more sustainable manner, since they are aware of the health risks associated with use of farm chemicals.
“Women care for the sick and have much greater awareness of how the use of chemicals is related to health problems, which in turn makes them more reluctant to use them. By contrast, men tend to seek the immediate economic benefit. They’re more concerned with increasing their productivity,” Siliprandi said.
Rural women also suffer from economic violence due to a lack of access to money, unlike their counterparts in the cities who work in the informal sector, generate their own income and enjoy more autonomy with respect to men.