Oct 24

World Food Day & International Rural Women’s Day

WFP celebrated both days on 10 October with an event with 140 women farm workers and dwellers. The focus of the day was to highlight the important contribution of women’s food production to household food security. Through group work, women also discussed their constraints to growing food. These included access to inputs, such as land and seeds, as well as access to markets. Women who are currently participating in the Cooperatives & Food Gardens Programme shared their experiences, especially highlighting the impact of food production: some women spoke about the nutritional benefits their households are experiencing, while others are able to share and sell their surpluses; others have been able to start small house-based businesses – e.g. house shop, selling wood, etc.  


Aunty Grietjie and her husband are both pensioners, and live on a farm in Rawsonville. They are able to live off the vegetables she produces, as well as the income generated from the sale of surplus vegetables, and the pigs and chickens she purchased from the sale of surplus vegetables.


The event also served to highlight the link between farm worker evictions and food insecurity. As women are evicted from farms, they land up in informal settlements, with even less access to land, and less possibility of producing food.  



The event ended with a demonstration at the Drakenstein Municipality in Paarl to demand that municipalities provide evicted workers with decent, alternative accommodation (as stipulated by ESTA legislation). If they are unable to do so, as many claim, there should be an immediate moratorium on farm worker evictions. A case in point was the Fillies family: Florina Fillies and her family were evicted from Salomonsvlei farm in Paarl on 26 September 2013, but were not provided with adequate alternative accommodation by Drakenstein Municipality. For two weeks, after numerous engagements with the municipality, Department of Rural Development and other state institutions, Florina and her family lived on the side of the road under a tarpaulin, with no prospect of shelter: the municipality simply said they have no land for housing.

Women’s demands thus included the specific demand that Florina and her family immediately be provided with suitable alternative housing. After the Municipal Manager finally agreed to engage with the women, the Municipality accepted the Memorandum of Demands, and also offered to provide the family with suitable temporary accommodation in Mbekweni.



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