As world leaders gather in Copenhagen to negotiate a climate change agreement this week, MADRE is emphasizing that the creation of any new policy is an opportunity to advance human rights. In particular, we are calling for world leaders to recognize small holder women farmers, including the women farmers we support in Sudan, as a crucial, but underrepresented constituency in addressing the crisis.
We are emphasizing that small holder women farmers are not only disproportionately threatened by climate change; they are also advancing practices of sustainable agriculture that hold incredible promise to confront climate change.
MADRE is providing women farmers in Sudan with organic seeds and training in sustainable farming. The women are learning techniques such as crop diversity and crop rotation to enhance soil quality, control pests and cool the planet by attracting carbon back into the soil. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “small-scale sustainable farms have been found to emit between one-half and two-thirds less carbon dioxide for every acre of production” than industrial farms.
In Sudan, climate change may bring a frightening 50 percent drop in crop yields within two generations. The effects of global climate change are already wreaking havoc in Sudan, where intermittent droughts and floods are destroying crops and livestock and making farmers’ traditional knowledge obsolete. Many of these farmers are women, who grow and harvest the majority of food crops in Sudan.
Sustainable agriculture is our best hope for feeding a growing population and restoring the stability of the climate. Worldwide, the vast majority of those who farm sustainably are women. Securing the full range of their human rights—as women, as workers, and as rural and Indigenous Peoples has always been at the heart of MADRE’s work. Now we know that these women’s rights are key to empowering them to enact solutions on which we all depend.
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