MANDELA DAY 2013!!!
SPEND YOUR 67 MINUTES FARMING WITH THE STELLENBOSCH FARMWOMEN’S COOPERATIVE!
Nelson Mandela, Hyde Park, London, June 2008
On behalf of the Stellenbosch Women’s Agricultural Cooperative, Women on Farms Project invites you to celebrate Mandela Day by working the land with the women.
Despite numerous challenges on the municipal commonage on which they are farming, such as water shortages and lack of extension services and infrastructural support, the women have started vegetable production on the land. Their first harvest enabled them to grow enough for both household consumption and a small surplus for income generation. Also, after the fire in March which displaced 2,000 residents in Kayamandi, each Cooperative member assisted six affected families with vegetables as part of the disaster relief effort.
part of its ongoing land campaign during 2013, WFP marked the centenary of the 1913 Native Land Act when 100 women farm workers and dwellers from the Cape Winelands District Municipality, marched and picketed at the Worcester Municipality, the Department of Rural Development & Land Reform (DRDLR) and the Worcester Magistrate's Court.
On Saturday, 4 May, 180 women farm workers from across the Cape Winelands District Municipality gathered in Wolseley to celebrate Workers' Day. Women reflected on the impact of the strike and the implementation of the new minimum wage. Women shared their experiences of the backlash by farmers which include: farm worker dismissals; reducing number of seasonal workers; reducing workers' working hours; increasing farm worker rents, etc. It also emerged that some farmers are not paying the new minimum wage. Many farmers are telling their workers that they have been granted the minimum wage exemption, even though they do not have exemption. Because the exemptions which have been granted are not in the public domain, workers have no way of knowing whether their employers have been granted exemption. WFP is lobbying for the public disclosure of the legal exemptions. WFP is also currently undertaking research into the 2012 strike, especially the role and impacts on women farm workers.
On 8 March, WFP hosted a public event for more than 200 women farm workers and dwellers to celebrate International Women's Day. The focus of the event was twofold: to reflect on the farm worker strikes of 2012, and share experiences and strategies around the continuing violence against women in rural towns and farms.
In reflecting on the farm worker strikes, women discussed both the emerging impacts of the strikes and the role played by women during the strike. Following these preliminary discussions, WFP is undertaking more detailed research into the impacts of the strike.
While reflecting on gender-based violence, women shared their experiences of poor service delivery from police officials, recounting instances in which police had refused to open cases about domestic violence, failed to implement protection orders, and released perpetrators shortly after arresting them.
Following the workshop, women marched to the Stellenbosch police station to hand over a memorandum outlining their experiences with rural police officials, and demanding more respectful and gender-sensitive service from police responding to reports of gender-based violence. WFP will follow up with the Stellenbosch police.
The women growing food gardens in Rawsonville and Ceres enjoyed rich summer harvests in January and February, producing beans, spinach, watermelon, potatoes, onions, mealies, squash, pumpkin, tomatoes and carrots, including indigenous varieties. There are 25 food gardens in the Western Cape, and 30 food gardens in the Northern Cape.
The women used most of the vegetables they produced for household consumption, which has greatly enhanced their household food security. Many women reported they had been unable to afford vegetables in the past, but were now they able to provide fresh vegetables for their families throughout the year. Some women from Rawsonville were able to sell their surplus vegetables to neighbouring households, thereby generating income for themselves and enabling their neighbors to consume fresh and affordable vegetables. The Ceres Cooperative has also purchased vegetables from the food gardens in Rawsonville, which they use to make preserves and chutneys to sell.
The food gardens also supported the communities during the farm worker strikes, enabling women to feed their families.
In June, the food garden participants from Rawsonville will participate in a seed capturing and agro-ecology workshop in June. Women from the Ceres Cooperative will co-facilitate the training with WFP staff as they have already participated in similar training and have recently successfully captured their own indigenous seeds for the first time.