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Home >> En >> Wia >> Post >> Women In Agriculture Our Stories One Journey >> 2301

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Halfway through the journey: Travelling journal in Sri Lanka
Monday, July 1, 2013 - 03:00

After travelling through the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Cambodia and India, the rural women's journal is now halfway through its journey across Asia. After ten eventful days in the hands of Shanthi, a rural woman from India, the travelling journal is now en route to the village of Maligavilla, Monaragala District, Sri Lanka, where Gunawathu "Amara" Hewagallage is waiting to tell her stories.

Amara is well-known and well-loved for her work and commitment to protect her community's resources. She tirelessly goes from household to household, encouraging people to keep traditional seeds and practice ecological farming. Amara also arranges regular seed exchanges and seed festivals, which help in the identification and preservation of traditional seed varieties.

Hers is a typical rural community in Sri Lanka, where poverty is compounded by land grabbing and lack of basic social services such as water and health care. Amara thus struggles hard to uplift the lives of her fellow farmers, primarily by encouraging them to reject the use of costly and hazardous pesticides, and instead pool their resources and knowledge for biodiversity-based ecological farming.

A Filipina farmer Margarita "Nanay Margie" Tagapan wrote the first entry in this one of a kind travelling journal from the hilly Montalban, Rizal, Philippines. It then journeyed into the hands of a mother and community leader, Suryati, of Pangalengan, Indonesia and after 10 days, was passed on to the hands of Li Zizhen, an indigenous woman farmer of the Bai ethnic minority of Yunnan, China. The latest entries were written by Cambodian farmer Chey Siyat and Indian Dalit farmer Shanthi Gangadaran. Chey told of the challenges in producing food for her family's consumption and income, noting changing climate patterns, decreased yields and increased cost of inputs. In the journal, she related how their community is facing these challenges together.

Shanthi Gangadaran's journal entries on the other hand provides us sketches of life as a woman leader who is trying to change the fate of the landless Dalits, considered "untouchables" under the Indian caste system. Shanthi is a 46-year old Dalit farmer in Tamil Nadu, India. Shanthi is a respected leader of the Rural Women's Liberation Movement and her daily activities involve organising and mobilising Dalit women for land rights, encouraging women to participate in local governance, helping victims of violence and discrimination, and promoting organic agriculture.

Our Stories, One Journey: Empowering Rural Women in Asia will collect everyday writings from eight rural women in different countries to give a personalised voice to a growing clamor to transform agriculture into a more equitable and sustainable system. The initiative is led by Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), Asian Rural Women's Coalition (ARWC), and East Asia GROW Campaign. ###

For Reference:
Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC):
Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP): Marjo Busto

For more updates:


Profile of Gunawathu Hewagallage:

Name:  Gunawathu "Amara" Hewagallage
Civil Status:  Single
No. of children (if any):  None
Community:  Maligavilla
Country:  Sri Lanka
Educational Background:  General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advance Level
Languages Spoken and Written:  Sinhalese
Name of Organisations involved in:  Community Resource Protection Centre

      Vikalpani National Women's Federation
      Contact Person:  Menu Nilukshika/ Programme Coordinator

Current position in her organisation/s:  President
Years of stay in the organisation/s:  more than 15 years


Profile of Shanthi Gangadaran:

Name:  Shanthi Gangadaran
Age:  46 years old
Civil Status:  Married
No. of children (if any):  1
Community:  Dalit
Country:  India
Educational Background:  9th std
Languages Spoken and Written:  Tamil
Name of Organisations involved in:  Society for Rural Education and Development
                                        Rural Women's Liberation Movement

      Tamil Nadu Women's Forum (TNWF)
      Contact Person:  Burnad Fatima.N / President

Current position in her organisation/s:  Rural Women's Liberation Movement, Coordinator
Years of stay in the organisation/s:  28 years


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