Indigenous Women and the Struggle for Food Sovereignty: Engaging with State Policy in Bolivia

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:21
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Jenny COCKBURN, Carleton University, Canada
Indigenous women’s organizations in Bolivia are employing the concept of Food Sovereignty (FS) in their struggle for an equitable future. The logic underpinning FS involves the right to decide what to produce, and how to distribute and consume nutritious, culturally appropriate foods in ecologically sustainable ways. A key issue at the World Conference on Indigenous Women held in 2013, indigenous women are examining FS and their role in local and global food justice. They have constituted transnational networks to put forward the agenda at the global level including G-77, Indigenous summits, and the creation of international spaces like the Comité Internacional de Planificación por la Soberanía Alimentaria. In Bolivia, women’s organizations, like Bartolina Sisa, were among those instrumental in the inclusion of FS in the new Constitution in 2009. Yet state-mobilized FS is transforming the concept in contradictory ways, creating tensions as well as spaces for continued engagement. These spaces have the potential for further incorporating gender into the priorities of FS at the state level. However, contradictions suggest that the direction the government may take in further gendering FS will continue to be informed by preconceived notions of gender roles that limit the ways in which women are included. Furthermore, the tension between policy and practice in gender equality exposes a persistent struggle for women’s secure access to farmable land and food security. As indigenous women’s organizations take up FS as a tenet in Bolivia, they work toward reshaping gender relations at the grassroots and state levels, with implications for food security and sovereignty policies within Latin America more broadly.