The current threats of aggressive corporate control in agricultural lands and resources from systematic and massive land grabbing to TNCs monopoly rights over seeds through IPRs and new technologies such as genetic engineering, in addition to massive promotion of pesticides use and control of agro-chemical TNC in agriculture seriously undermine rural women’s rights to access and control resources, including local knowledge and practices. In addition, the imposition of policies by international institutions (the WTO, IFIs), trade agreements and national policies that move away from sustainable farming practices to market-oriented and monopoly production further displaces rural women as food providers and producers in the household and communities.
Yet history tells us that women in agriculture have been strongly asserting their rights to productive and political resources; their rights to define and determine food and agricultural policies; their rights to healthy and safe food; and reclaiming their knowledge, skills and control over resources. For women in Asia, it has also meant the assertion of her rights as farmers, as workers, as consumers, as mothers and as women, as part of a collective.
Women have become involved in different forms of struggle as they carry their fight in their farms, picket lines, street demonstrations, parliaments and urban centres. Women are holding up banners and are in the frontline from protesting against the incursion of transnational corporations, right up to human rights struggles and the fight for freedom and justice in their own lands and workplaces.
According to the FAO, women make up about 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries. If these women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent, raising total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 percent. For rural women and men, land is the most important asset to support production and provide for food, nutrition and income security.