The South African Food Sovereignty Campaign (SAFSC) celebrates Women’s Day on the 9th of August. We celebrate women, who are responsible for over half of the world’s food production and who, in the context of existing gender relations in South Africa, are predominantly the ones who make sure that households and families are fed, amidst conditions of widespread hunger. This is because there is a food crisis, in which massive levels of food waste (about a third of food produced in South Africa goes to waste) exist alongside the reality that 53% of our population experience hunger either intermittently or regularly. It is poor and working class women that are the shock absorbers of this crisis. Women’s unpaid care work includes preparation (and often production) of food, care of the young, the old and the sick, and for the millions of Africans living in rural areas and informal settlements without basic services, collecting water and fuel.
Rising food prices means working class women working harder and longer to stretch meagre wages and social grants further. The dynamics of patriarchy often means that women face hunger more often than men. Furthermore, women still face unequal ownership and access to land, especially in the former homelands, and this is being intensified as the power of chiefs is asserted through a number of pieces of legislation and state processes.
However, working class and poor women are also not passive victims. Many are playing a crucial role in addressing hunger, sometimes in survivalist, defensive and ameliorative ways, but also in challenging the neo- liberal food regime and promoting alternatives such as food sovereignty. On this Women’s Day we should re-affirm our demand for gender justice, to challenge the conditions that undermine women’s everyday freedom from hunger, poverty and subordination, which requires the total social transformation of the present unjust and unequal society.
For more information, contact Katherine 083 299 6750 or Davine 071 592 2361