Through Her Eyes: The Struggle for Food Sovereignty

In honor of Women’s History Month and the incredible women I’ve worked alongside for decades in the fight to end hunger and build social justice, I want to share WhyHunger’s most recent publication, “Through Her Eyes: The Struggle for Food Sovereignty.” The publication features heartbreaking and yet heart-warming, hopeful interviews with more than a dozen women food sovereignty advocates from across the world.

These are true leaders in the movement for food sovereignty, the right for all people to grow, consume and sell the food they choose in the manner they choose. They are activists, chefs, organizers and advocates. They are farmworkers who have borne the heat of the fields day after day, suffered from the pesticides and other chemicals they touched and inhaled and bore children who were harmed from those same chemicals.

They know the pain and the loss of health and they will not be silent. They have found their voices and are speaking out against the damage that industrial agriculture and fishing have brought to their lives, their families and their communities. Their voices have become strong because they do not speak alone AND they represent the majority of folks in agriculture and food production throughout the world.

Women are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of food production in the Global South. Here in the United States, 50 percent of the food chain workers are women and there are well over a million women farmers, a number that grows every year. Yet 60 percent of chronically hungry people in the world are women and girls.

Here are a few of their voices, read more at “Through Her Eyes: The Struggle for Food Sovereignty.”

Kathia Ramirez, Farmworkers Support Committee-CATA, USA
“All agricultural workers are exposed to pesticides that damage their health.”  The women farmworkers “will sometimes not have the joy of being mothers because these chemicals can cause infertility.”

Elvira Carvajal, Farmworker Association of Florida, USA
“Personally, when I worked in the fields, I lost a baby at six months. Afterwards I was informed that it was because of the chemicals I was exposed to daily at work.”

Her organization promotes agroecology a method of farming that combines the best of traditional farming with new methods and insights and does not use chemicals. “I think that agroecology is a movement with principles and values for all those who care for and protect the earth. I think that women play an important role in agroecology. The woman is the engine of everything. We are the ones making sure our families are fed and healthy.”

Chef Pearl Thompson, Director of the Promise Culinary School at Elijah’s Promise, USA
“The issues around food and industrial agriculture lean toward the production of cheap food and the perception that cheap food is healthy food. The realities are that these folks think that’s all that is available to them, because that’s all that is promoted to them. Issues around food quality lead to problems in health care and the environment, which are primarily faced by marginalized people.”

Barbara Kalbach, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, USA
“I think most people are familiar with the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) that produce eggs, chickens, turkeys and pork that is eaten throughout the world. CAFOs and big farms represent the industrialization of farming, which is driving the small family farmer from the land and pushing livestock production into fewer food producers.”

“As family farms die out in this next generation we stand to lose the knowledge of how to produce food. Do you really want to hand food production to a computer?”

Magha Garcia, Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecologica, USA-Puerto Rico
“Today, we not only have Monsanto in Puerto Rico but also 10 more agricultural biotech companies including Pioneer, Syngenta and DuPont. Without any government oversight or regulation, it is easy for ecologically criminal corporations to thrive there.”

Anne Frederick, Hawai’i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) USA
We think of Hawaii as a vacation paradise but Hawaii imports 80 to 90 percent of its food and it has “the greatest concentration of test sites compared to the mainland.”

“Since 1987 Hawaii has hosted more cumulative genetically engineered (GE) field trials – 3,243 – than any other state.”

Anne’s organization is working in communities to grow organic food and more. “We’ve been doing a lot to advocate for the governor to mandate and fund data collection and coordination of government agencies on the impact of pesticides.”

Nivia Silva, Landless Worker Movement (MST) Brazil
“At the root of the problem, it is a structural issue in the way that agribusiness has re-organized life in the countryside and how it has impacted life in the cities.”

Perla Alvarez Britez, National Organization of Peasant and Indigenous Women (CONOMURI) Paraguay
“Our organization understands clearly that the use of pesticides is part of the structural model of agribusiness based on grain exportation and growing mono-crops with GM seeds.”

Rachel Mwikali, World March of Women – Kenya
“Women maintain that food sovereignty goes hand in hand with the rights of women to land, seeds, the honoring of local knowledge and wisdom. Women in rural areas and the city, young people and elders, want to have more control over what arrives on their diner table, how it was produced, how it was processed and furthermore, they want to participate in the decisions over the process and over the design and implementation of public policies.”

These women and millions more will not remain silent in the midst of their oppression by agribusiness. They are finding a more powerful clear voice every day.


Marie W
Marie W6 months ago

Thanks again

Jim V
Jim Ven6 months ago


Jerome S
Jerome S6 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Daniela M
Daniela M9 months ago

Wonderful. Congratulations to these inspirational women!

Jan S
Past Member 9 months ago

Thank you

Barbara S
Past Member 9 months ago

thanks for sharing

Carl R
Carl R9 months ago


Amanda G
Amanda G10 months ago

Thanks for posting

heather g
heather g10 months ago

In every sphere in the workplace, women earn much less than men.
Those large, influential chemical corporations couldn't care less who they hurt.

Carl R
Carl R10 months ago