Your Support in Action

Climate Change and Women's Human Rights: The MADRE Model

Posted on: Friday, December 4, 2009

Keywords: Economic Justice, Environmental Justice, Climate Change, UN, Water Rights

Evidence is mounting that sustainable agriculture is our best hope for feeding a growing population and restoring the stability of the climate. Worldwide, the vast majority of those who farm sustainably are women. Securing the full range of their human rights—as women, as workers, and as rural and Indigenous Peoples has always been at the heart of MADRE’s work. Now we know that these women’s rights are key to empowering them to enact solutions on which we all depend.

Here’s a look at some of the ways that MADRE is supporting smallholder women farmers and addressing the inter-related crises of climate change, world hunger and abuses of women’s rights.

Replacing fossil-fuel based fertilizers and toxic pesticides with organic farming

In Sudan, MADRE provides women farmers with organic seeds and training in sustainable farming. The women learn techniques such as crop diversity and crop rotation to enhance soil quality, control pests and cool the planet by attracting carbon back into the soil. Read more »

Improving ways to conserve and manage water

In Kenya, MADRE helped build a water purification and storage system managed by the local community. The project protects their water source from erosion and contamination and enables the community to store fresh water through the dry season. Read more »

Strengthening community self-reliance through seed banks and farmers’ associations

In Nicaragua, MADRE helped create a seed bank for a group of women farmers. The women are now able to cultivate, save and share local, organic seeds from one growing season to the next. The program emphasizes sustainable land use methodologies, safeguards traditional Indigenous knowledge of natural resource management and strengthens women’s economic self-sufficiency and participation in public life. Read more »

Empowering women to shape policies that affect them and their communities

In Panama, MADRE partners with Indigenous Kuna women to equip rural women to represent their own issues in policymaking. They are working to ensure that national conservation programs respect Indigenous rights and that economic development is pursued in ways that maintain a healthy and viable world for future generations. Read more »

Demanding access to land, seeds, water, credit and other inputs that farmers need

In Sudan, government discrimination against women farmers threatens their capacity to feed their communities and assert their rights within the family. Through the MADRE-supported Women Farmers’ Union, women have joined forces and won access to government programs that provide tools, seeds and other necessary supplies. The women are now organizing for broader rights, expanding their organic farming and building a foundation for a life free from hunger. Read more »

Combating the privatization and monopolization of seeds by corporations

In Panama, MADRE’s program upholds farmers’ right to save and exchange seeds. Through workshops, Kuna women learn to recover traditional Indigenous knowledge of biodiversity and secure agricultural seeds in danger of extinction by reviving traditional stocks and distributing them to local farmers. The women cultivate local, organic seeds, creating healthier, more sustainable alternatives to genetically modified seeds promoted by multi-national biotech companies in the area. Read more »

Demanding accountability from world leaders

MADRE is at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen demanding that world leaders recognize the important role of women farmers in combating climate change. We’re calling for new policies that end the monopolization of climate talks by profit-driven demands, support sustainable and organic agriculture and advance human rights.



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Kat Noel, Website & Media Coordinator
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