[03/05/10] MST Informa #180: In Struggle, We Commemorate the Centennial of March 8

One hundred years ago, Clara Zetkin, director of the German Social Democrat Party, successfully proposed the establishment of March 8th as International Womens Day. This historic reference alone would be enough to mark the date in its primary sense: struggle. It was on this path that women so often went out into the streets in every part of the world: for the right to vote, to equal wages, to denounce the daily violence that they experienced, from domestic humiliation to the most brutal physical violence. In a country with one of the worst social inequalities in the world, with land, income, and power concentrated in the hands of an elite, profoundly marked by the latifúndio and by imperialist exploitation, the impacts fall most strongly on women. According to a study by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, 80% of the people without access to income in Brazil are women. And they are the ones who must do two or three jobs, often considered “help” and without compensation. In the countryside, this reality is even more striking. According to the UN organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), only 1% of the rural properties in the world are in the name of women. And in Agrarian Reform as well, the index is low: fewer than 15% of land is registered in the names of women. Around 6.5 million women farmers are illiterate. The production model given highest priority by the Brazilian state as revealed in the details of the last Farm Census, shows that there are 15 million landless in the country. Of these, at least 50% are women. Behind the large number of landless, a data from the Census expresses the contradiction: only 1% of the landowners in Brazil hold 46% of the arable land. Agribusiness, which receives most of the public investment for production, accumulates another shameful title for Brazil. After being the main consumer of agro-toxins, it’s now the second country in the world in the cultivated area in genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). While the developed countries follow the reverse path, concerned with the quality of food, our population needs to poison itself to ensure the profits for the transnational corporations. This is because they try to convince the world that the transnational corporations would end the need for pesticides. So how else to understand the immense quantity of poisons to maintain production of GMOs? The Census showed that almost 80% of the rural property owners use agro-toxins, much more than necessary. The huge volume of herbicides applied in Brazil contaminates the soils, water sources, and even the Guarani aquifer. The contamination gets to us through the water that we drink and through the farm products irrigated with contaminated water. There is no lack of data proving the harm to human health caused by agro-toxins and transgenics, many more times to women, such as the contamination of breast milk and impacts on fertility. But none of this seems to be reason enough to move the perverse model of agribusiness off the path that it is on. And for this reason the rural women are mobilizing, confronting oppression and exploitation. We will not be silent. Every year, we take on the historical responsibility left by the socialists. This year, we organized the Day of Struggle Against Agribusiness and Against Violence: for Agrarian Reform and Food Sovereignty. We are going into the streets all over the country to let society know about our demands, our alternatives for health, for autonomy, for equality, for the end of exploitation. We join the women from the cities who have also for many decades carried out basic struggles for all of Brazilian society. We know that this is the only way possible to achieve our rights.