Sisters of the land

Spring is in the air, and a seed is germinating and fighting to grow. On its own, it begins to make its way, breaking earth, little by little, following the rhythms of the sun, it will go on growing. But it needs water to sprout and grow. And if the water doesn’t reach it, it will fight to find it.

Sister,

we women,

like seeds, we too are making our own way. They seem invisible at first, but they grow with the strength of our voices in a place full of life where we never stop forging community through our hands and our words.

We are also part of the life of our villages: the lullaby, the root, the heartbeat. And like seeds which hook onto the wool of transhumant animals and germinate thousands and thousands of miles from their place of origin, we resist and we fight. And we look at those who went before us and we realise why we cannot afford to remain silent.

They say that the 8th of March belongs to all women.

But what is reflected in the media and on social networks doesn’t tend to correspond to this ideal, because we often fail to move beyond a superficial conceptualisation of ‘all women’, beyond cities, beyond recognising and celebrating women strictly from certain cultural backgrounds.

Where do we rural women fit in to this? How can we protect our place in society? How can we bring the unknown out of the shadows? How can we come to value hands that are hard at work but that, to many, continue to be invisible?

Rural women have suffered from double exclusion in this capitalist, technocratic and urban-centric society: for being women and for being from a rural area.

Rural women,

sisters of an only child, wives, daughters, sisters, granddaughters, nieces…

Always in the shadows, but taking all the strain. Owners of nothing, but responsible for everything.

It’s about time that we payed tribute to the work and the sweat of women like our grandmothers and our mothers, who worked the land so much and at the same time shouldered the burden of household work in the shadows, in complete and total silence.

We must name them one by one.

We must act as a loudspeaker so that their voices resound.

We must tell people that rural women were, are and will be in the future strong women of the land, who in most cases were not able to make their own choices or decisions; that by making sacrifices, growing up in homes built on foundations of inequality and sexism, they paved the way for other women.

And no,

we won’t forget today’s women who are unable to go on strike or attend the protest, even if they want to.

Because it’s we women who are the care-givers, tending to people, herds, crops, fields and forests. And, of course, we cannot forget all the female migrants, our colleagues, who work in precarious conditions, are abused and suffer sexism in our country. They suffer a triple discrimination: for being women, for being from a rural background, and for being migrants.

We are holding firm.

It’s high time we changed our perspective.

We have always been here, working the land, giving care, being the invisible but essential root that kept homes from collapsing, no matter how difficult things were for the women that came before us and of how difficult they still are.

No, we don’t need anyone to save us.

We want our place and we want to shout loudly: were are here, we were always here and we want to stay.

We don’t want the authorities to focus exclusively on satisfying the needs of cities; we need basic services too. We want to be able to decide whether to stay or leave. We women want to stop being second class citizens. We want food sovereignty, extensive livestock and agroecology. We want to build communities, to maintain them, to help one another, to feel acknowledged and supported.

We want to set an example for the girls of the future, for our daughters and granddaughters, for all of them. We want to tell them that this is their country too, that this culture full of animals, trees, land and people is also theirs, that this is where we come from and where we’re going. Because we don’t want to leave, because we think that other ways of life, other kinds of relationships and production are possible, beyond this exploitative system, and that our lifestyle has a great potential to teach and to nourish.

Auzolan in Basque,

a vecinal in Aragonese,

facendera in Leonese,

sestaferia in Asturian,

roga in Galician,

a tornallom in Valencian,

a cumuña in Cantabrian,

treball a jova in Catalan,

a vediau in Aranese…

Communal work, hands that give care and help. A natural way of working in the field or in rural areas that generally fed and gave life to our villages. Now, more than ever, we need to reclaim these regional words and, above all, bring their sentiments back to life. We have to keep forging networks in rural areas, share, talk, raise our voices, help other women, be part of the root and the branches.

Because our land isn’t empty, no matter how much you have tried to empty it.

Because we’re still here, alive and well.

Here’s to a feminism that belongs to all women,

here’s to the sisters of the land.

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You can support this manifesto by signing here. Together we are better.

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The illustration has been designed by Cristina Jiménez. You can download the printable version here.

(This Manifesto was written by SIMRA’s member Lucía López Marco (IAMZ-CIHEAM) and María Sánchez. Thanks to Patricia Dopazo, Anna Gomar, Blanca Ruibal and Elena Medel for your advice and notes. And thanks to the many women who have sent their contributions.)

Translated by Adam Williamson (IAMZ-CIHEAM) and Alfonso Moles (IAMZ-CIHEAM)

This Manifesto is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.

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