September 13, 2012
Goldman Prize staff members Lani Alo and Jenny Park had the opportunity to attend Seeds of Resilience: Women Protecting Their Right to Land and Food, an event hosted by Women’s Earth Alliance.
The event was held at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, a model of sustainability and home to the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Theater. The event featured two speakers, Dr. Seema Tripathi of Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group, and Anu Mandavilli of Mining Zone People’s Solidarity Group.
Dr. Tripathi spoke about her work training female Indian farmers to embrace organic, polyculture farming based on indigenous knowledge- a practice that leads to more sustainable and resilient crops that can stand up to the challenges of climate change without the use of chemical fertilizers.
She also encourages the women to identify themselves as farmers and advocate for their land rights. Park reflected, “They’ve identified a smart solution—investing in women—as a means to address various challenges: food security, social rights, climate change, among others.”
Anu Mandavilli raised awareness of the POSCO Iron and Steel Company’s plan to open a large steel factory on agriculturally unique farmland. The Indian Government granted POSCO the land without consulting the 50,000 betel leaf farmers whose livelihoods depend on it.
Mandavilli is working with farmers, fisherfolk and civil society groups to protest the project, and 1992 Goldman Prize winner Medha Patkar and her organization National Movement Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM) have called on the government to scrap it altogether.
Park commented, “Lani and I were particularly struck at how every generation in the village, from young kids to their parents and the elderly, were so committed to protecting their land.”
Women’s Earth Alliance is an Earth Island Institute project that ‘stands in solidarity with the grassroots struggles of local communities and to support the bold organizing efforts of women, who are the rising to address challenges of food security, climate change and land grabs in their communities.’ Earth Island Institute is a nominating partner for the Goldman Prize.