Side event: Raising voices: Empowering female farmers in drug crop cultivation areas

Organized by the Open Society Foundations with the support of Germany

Sarah David Advisor, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany: My name is Sarah David, I’m an advisor working with GIZ, and I’m more than happy to welcome you to today’s event on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. before we go into detail and listen from our panellists, on the issue of woman and drug crop cultivavion areas, and what we can do to support them, and power them. Without further ado, I have now the honour of announcing the first opening remarks, which will be given by Dr. Maria Flexport, who is the parliamentary state secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development teams at of Germany, she kindly recorded a video message.

Maria Flachsbarth Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany: Welcome to the third event of the Raising Voices, empowering female farmers in drug crop cultivation areas initiative. According to a message by the United Nations Office of Drug and crime, between 605,00 and 970,000 households worldwide grew opium poppy crops in 2017 and 2018. For more than 30 years now, Germany has been pursuing a policy of alternative development. The aim of which is to bring sustainable improvements to the daily lives of people living in crop cultivation areas. For instance, a part of this policy more than 1100 families in Bolivia, 42%, of which were women were giving planting material and advice, so that they could plant coffee and cypress trees as alternatives to the drug crops and could replant local forests. Another example, in Myanmar we supported the green gold coffee cooperative. Today, almost 1000 small farmers from 55 villages have joined the cooperative and grow Fairtrade certified coffee beans. However, it has been our experience that women and men do not necessarily benefit in equal measure from our alternative development programme. For women in drug crop cultivation areas are poor and earn less than men. Often, these women live in deprived rural areas where food insecurity and violence are rife. And there is little or no rule of law, women face considerable barriers when trying to access resources or services, such as land and credit, often enough, because of traditional gender stereotypes. This means their lives can be precarious, and that is unacceptable, because women have the same rights as men, because women play a much stronger role than men. When it comes to substituting illicit drug crops with legal income generating alternatives, such as cocoa, coffee, and because women are the backbone of the families and strong pillar of rural communities. Therefore, they are in a position to play a key role in improving the welfare of rural community. That is why we are working jointly with the Open Society Foundations and the Corporacion Humanas Columbia to give women in drug crop cultivation areas, a voice for their rights, so that the women can decide freely to pursue alternative and sustainable ways of earning a living, and can live decent lives. Let us then rise our voices in unison, in support of women living in crop cultivation areas. Thank you.

Luz Piedad Caicedo Deputy Director, Corporación Humanas Colombia: We know that you had a few recommendations that I wanted to share about women who work in rural areas in coca and poppy cultivation the rural sector of Colombia and Mexico. We have five big blocks, first of all we want to know the reality of women who work in these cultivation areas to find out how they live, Which distinct qualities they have and what the problems of male/female they encounter in the camps, who live in these areas, what is the role in the communities and how do they support their families? The second part is strengthen the agricultural women, How can we reach this so we can generate space for these women who know that capacities and their potential leadership and the participation due to workshops and capacitation and guarantee access to titles, earth and credits, recognise the women cultivators as agents, this is to know that these are economic agents who invest in the benefits of coca and poppies and services for their families and communities. For this project, there are some alternatives of great resources for the production of their families and their lives to recognise these individual agents as integrational families and not focus on the agencies using them as themselves and to implement the programmes, the policies, the politics, the developments and recognise their capacities, their knowledge and their expertise to count on ideal people for the design, the implementation and the public policies and politics, minimalize the guarantees that the people are in charge of the design and the implementation and the formation of the agenda, the experience and the transferistation of gender.

Yenninfer Martínez Murillo Representative, Asociación de Trabajadores Campesinos Agroecológicos del Municipio de Mesetas, Colombia: Thank you so much for inviting me here today. So I would like to share with you my experience as a female cultivator. So the beginning, that wasn’t a great representation of women in the rural areas, that then these systems duplicated, and we had more and more women working in these rural areas and especially in the sustainability sector. It’s not just an issue of being a woman. It’s also an issue of education because we as women have shown that we are capable of doing our tasks to fulfilling our tasks as housewives. We have more and more implication in the daily lives. And this work in these rural areas are extremely interesting, and we have a lot of opportunities in the agricultural areas. we have to be taken into consideration because the women are the ones who maintain all the rural areas on the front, we are the ones who work on these cultivations and we fulfil the interests of the economy, we have to show that we can take up the space, and also the political area, not just on the industrial and agricultural area, and that we as women are also part of a active working society. I think that’s one of the recommendations to the government’s after this, there was a complete change once some various contracts have been signed, we were able to cultivate because we were hoping that the institutions would help us. So, the problem was that then they closed the region and they closed, these possibilities. And in the end we had no help from the project, not from the programmes and nobody was there to help us although they had signed the contracts and even the cultivation of coca, and we couldn’t even cultivate the cocaine anymore so that was even more conflict because our family economies were as devastating because at least with the Coka, we were able to finance our family. But the problem is that because of all these governmental laws, even that was no longer possible for us to cultivate. So in the end, we lost in all areas. And that was just a waste if I may use the terms in the families in the economy in every area, it was desperately waiting because we just continued in the same eternal fights. It was a very complex situation because when we thought everything was going to get better. Everything actually got worse, especially in these times it really, really, really affected us in our region.

Erolita Melendrez Tuanama Chairperson, Asociación de Mujeres Chocolateras Chocolate Corazón de Nolberth Alto Uruya, Peru: I’d like to talk to you about the experience of working here as a woman. So, we are a group of women who started working at the beginning we were 12, and we started working we got together, we started organising ourselves legally to be able to continue with our association, and a bit later we started to see the results, and thank you to these results and to the decision that were taken by the population, we were able to have an alternative development like the coca development. Now we’re seeing the results, thank you to God who’s seeing us and helping us that everything is going well at the moment, and that we can sell the chocolate at the moment we’re not selling it so well due to the pandemic, but I hope that soon the economy will grow again and that we can continue producing more cocoa. So that economically we can grow again. As women, it is a very important role here in the community because To start with, it’s not this decision of people who are above us, for example, men and women we work together. And the women help the men and the men help the women, which is very important. We also help and support the work. We are strong women, we are fighting women, we are women who really want to progress. I see this and that gives me more strength as a leader, it gives me more strength continue it strengthens me. It gives me the sensation of continuing working for my association. So, as I see this interest in the these women to progress to go forth, then there is so much violence in the family, so the women are so scared to being alone with their husbands because they get beaten up. They don’t have this strength this decision, to be able to go out and to leave with their children because there’s always this financial dependency, and they have to stay with their husbands and even if the husband treats them badly they have to stay. And so I try and motivate the women that they should not allow this violence, and that they put their limits also in their private lives. So the association also dedicates itself to these women, and to the government’s work. I would advise the national Peruvian government, to impulse more the development of the Female Society because we women are very important in our families in the society, but I see that the government’s don’t really see the importance of the role of the women because every year there is more and more violence in their houses, there are more and more deaths every day, women die because of family violence, because of their husbands mistreating them and this is very, very sad for us women, it makes us extremely sad and I would ask the Peruvian government to have more interest for the women, and for the children. Women we have a very, very important role in association, it’s not just the women, it’s also men who work, the men work with us, but it was very difficult to convince the husbands to allow the women to work. And when there was also always this very very sexist way that women were not allowed to play the important roles of husbands to allow the women to work.

It was very, very difficult to convince the husbands to be allowed to do this, but thanks to the fact that they work with us, they notice that we’re working for Association. Men notice that it’s development, and that’s great because it shows that it strengthens our association.

Sarah David Advisor, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany: Maybe it’s worth mentioning and having emphasis about discrimination and people who suffer from rural women. The women that are suffering, this is very difficult for women who work in the Coca drug crop, and in the poppy crop, because they are working with psychoactive substances, it makes it extremely complicated, they are exposed to strong violence, and they are not allowed to develop freely in their lives and live in their family. it’s not just for work that rural women have, but women in general. Because it duplicates, due to the lack of elementary necessities. This complicates their lives. And it makes it impossible for them to participate in decision making from the communities. And then they live in very rural areas that are away from all society. And they have so much knowledge you have so much capacities. So this programme has to consider has to take them into consideration when we make political decisions in the development area.

Yenninfer Martínez Murillo Representative, Asociación de Trabajadores Campesinos Agroecológicos del Municipio de Mesetas, Colombia: I’d like to strengthen the comment that was made. So, the female areas who work in cocoa, coffee areas. They move to the more urban societies, and they participate actively in their communities, and they also work in the cultivation of poppies. These are works that are not paid, these are voluntary works. So in the main part this cultivation of cocoa and poppies only source of income and getting income, makes them independent, for example, to be able to liberate themselves, free themselves from aggressive husbands, And then they can also take up credit. That’s extremely important that they can free themselves. This is why these programmes are so important, because if we get together with owners of the earth.

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