In March 2022, MVIWATA hosted a regional Peasant Feminism workshop where 72 (56 women, 16 men) participants from La Via Campesina member organizations which are MVIWATA (Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania), ESAFF- Uganda (Eastern and Southern small scale farmers forum in Uganda), KPL (Kenyan Peasants League), COPACO (Confederation Paysanne du Congo), UNAC (Uniao Nacional de Camponeses), ZIMSOFF (Zimbabwe smallholder organic farmers Forum), LPM (Landless People Movement), FSC (Food Sovereignty Campaign) and other social movements and political parties notably CPK (Communist Party of Kenya), SP- Zambia (Socialist party of Zambia), SMG (Socialist Movement of Ghana), Swaziland Rural Women Assembly participated brought in the process through Pan Africanism Today (PAT) participated. The workshop had also the participation of young female students from Kigurunyembe Secondary school, one of the schools that MVIWATA is training its students on agriculture through school clubs.
The diversity was rich from context, culture including language and for that we had the voluntarily valuable contribution of interpreters from the United States, France, Mozambique, Portugal, The Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania translating into Kiswahili, French, Portuguese, and English a process that facilitated communication and understanding among all participants. This process being very important to MVIWATA, LVC – SEAf region and the Gender sector of the Pan Africanism Today happened after a successful Peasant Feminism training and subsequent actions that MVIWATA and other LVC-SEAf members undertook from 2018 in relation to the Gender question and the ongoing interventions on Gender organized by the PAT secretariat.
The workshop was officially officiated by MVIWATA’s chairperson Mr. Apollo Chamwela who together with MVIWATA’s Executive Director Mr. Stephen Ruvuga joined the workshop with other participants (majority being young girls and women) to discuss and ponder on the present state of affairs of working women within the context of Africa and in productive sectors largely Agriculture and together we discussed, highlighted and strategized on common issues whereas women belonging to the working class identified as our issues, regardless of the different sectors and geographical locations we are coming from
Getting into the roots of our discussion was the presentation from Dr. Jackline Mgumia on a study -results that was commissioned by MVIWATA on behalf of the LVC- SEAf titled “Violence Against Women” where from the preliminary findings she presented that Peasant women face Violence first as Women belonging to the Working Class, second as Women just like any other women and thirdly as Peasants, and the preliminary findings were enough to direct the discussion in identifying what are our common issues as peasant women, as people belonging to the working class, as rural women and what violences do peasant women face, where do they converge and how do they affect the wider wellbeing of women and the society women live in.
The workshop tried to answer on one pertinent question on Feminism. Everyone is speaking of feminism, but what is feminism when it comes to us, as Peasant women? What does it imply in our context one being a feminist and more importantly on what are our struggles, who are our enemies and allies and how can we go forward with our struggles.
March, For Working women!
We took time to honor Bibi Titi and speak a bit about her and the likes of Bibi Titi, and the unsung revolutionaries in our history. Comrade Zikhona from the Pan Africanism Today took us through this session and we went as far as analyzing and discussing on the existing conjuncture and the position of women and all working people (politically, economically, environmentally, socially and culturally). At the end we agreed, should we take forward our Feminism agenda, we should take it with the question of liberating our people, of making sure the existing system is dismantled and our societies uphold the values of togetherness, revolutionary love and liberation of all mankind.
International Women’s Day Celebrations
From the workshop, the delegation travelled from to Mtwara, for the celebration of the International Working Women’s Day hosted by MVIWATA’s District network in Masasi. Masasi network in MVIWATA is recognized for its agroecology collective learning initiative that started at district level and spread over to all local networks with members learning, experimenting and practicing various agroecological practices (see AGROECOLOGY FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY CAMPAIGN | MVIWATA)
A total of 471 participants (328 women, 143 men) including smallholder farmers members’ of MVIWATA and non-MVIWATA members in Masasi District, students from Nangoo primary and secondary school, MVIWATA members from the neighboring districts of Liwale, Kilwa and Newala, participated in the event taht was prepared by the district network
The event also featured 25 guests from eleven countries including North and East Africa from Kenya (Kenyan Peasants League – KPL and Communist Party of Kenya – CPK), Uganda (Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum – ESAFF Uganda), DR Congo (Coalition Paysanne de Congo – COPACO), Mozambique (Uniao Nacional de Camponeses – UNAC), Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Forum – ZIMSOFF), South Africa (Pan Africanism Today – PAT, Landless Peoples Movement – LPM and Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereign – FSC), Zambia (Socialist Party of Zambia, Ghana (Socialist Movement of Ghana) and Eswatini (Rural Women Assembly).
There were also interpreters from the United States, France, Mozambique, Portugal, The Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania translating into Kiswahili, French, Portuguese, and English. The Guest of Honor for the event was Masasi District Commissioner, Claudia Kitta and the event was marked by peaceful demonstrations, local seed exhibition, local dances, speeches and celebration
Stephen Ruvuga, MVIWATA’s Executive Director welcomed the guests from which the aforementioned activities took place. Speeches, Poems, Statements were read but importantly was the African way that the event methodology took. Comrade Zikhona Kunene a representative of Pan-Africanism Today (PAT) delivered a message at the celebration of International Women’s Day
we are here for the continuation of what Bibi Titi Mohamed a renowned Tanzanian feminist and pioneer of women participation in the struggle for independence in Tanganyika who also supported the first president of Tanzania Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Titi and her colleagues left behind.
“We are here because Africa is a rich continent, but its people are still poor, we are here because women do not value themselves because of their sex and color of their skin, we are here because 62% of women are producers but still the poorest, we are here to tell them that only two women in Africa are leaders of the country”. Zikhona said, as the crowd applauded and shouts in support of her message.
“We are here to tell African women that they are very beautiful and attractive in their color, we are here to tell them that no other women will commit suicide again because of sexual violence, we are here to tell men to support us in our struggle because they are not our enemies, but our enemies are the oppressive system that exists”.
8th March Celebrations in our other Networks!
In the same spirit, of giving a platform for rural women to celebrate, reflect on their struggles and achievements, MVIWATA networks commemorated the International Women’s Day in 16 networks of (Masasi District – Mtwara region), (Songea District – Ruvuma region); (Ndole-Mvomero District, Itete- Malinyi District, Mngeta – Mlimba District, Msowero – Kilosa District all in Morogoro region); (Hai District- Kilimanjaro region); (Mbogwe District – Geita region); (Shinyanga rural District – Shinyanga region); (Mufindi District – Iringa region); (Mbarali District – Mbeya region); (Kiteto District – Manyara region); (Kongwa District and Mpwapwa District – Dodoma region); (Njombe District and Ludewa District – Njombe region) which joined together 2,917 ( 2,319 women, 598 men) rural producers among them 492 were rural youth and 611 ( 403 females, 208 males) students from Primary and Secondary schools in relevant villages were the events took place.
The events also provided a platform for rural women including to access Free Legal Aid and Screening for cervical cancer, services which were organized by MVIWATA