January 23, 2019

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Female farmers' hardships explored

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/3/2018 (326 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

GROWING food to feed their families in arid refugee camps, on the sides of mountains threatened by mining companies and on vacant land in large cities, women are keeping the roots of agriculture alive around the world.

In Women Who Dig: Farming, Feminism, and the Fight to Feed the World, Canadian journalist and human-rights activist Trina Moyles lovingly and respectfully describes the hardships facing many of these women who are refused the legal title of farmer within their countries and cultures.

Moyles visited eight countries to learn how women living in vastly different situations are managing to grow food for their families and communities, and to find out what they hope will happen for their children, especially their daughters.

Will they be able to pass on their knowledge of traditional crops and farming methods, or will economic development drive them off their small pieces of earth?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/3/2018 (326 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

GROWING food to feed their families in arid refugee camps, on the sides of mountains threatened by mining companies and on vacant land in large cities, women are keeping the roots of agriculture alive around the world.

In Women Who Dig: Farming, Feminism, and the Fight to Feed the World, Canadian journalist and human-rights activist Trina Moyles lovingly and respectfully describes the hardships facing many of these women who are refused the legal title of farmer within their countries and cultures.

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Moyles visited eight countries to learn how women living in vastly different situations are managing to grow food for their families and communities, and to find out what they hope will happen for their children, especially their daughters.

Will they be able to pass on their knowledge of traditional crops and farming methods, or will economic development drive them off their small pieces of earth?

Moyles’ words are highlighted by Canadian photojournalist K.J. Dakin’s beautiful photos. Dakin captures the spirit of the women who spoke to Moyles about their lives and work.

Moyles prefaces her book by describing her own personal history relating to agriculture. Her great-grandparents emigrated from Ireland to land near Wolseley, Sask. When her husband and two sons joined the Canadian Army during the Second World War, Moyles’ great-grandmother Eleanor found herself completely in charge of the family farm. She joined thousands of other Canadian women charged with growing crops to serve the nation and help the country’s war effort.

Despite the enormous burden these female farmers took on, Moyles notes that they were viewed as "farmerettes" by the Canadian government, and refused the respect they deserved. She found a similar situation in present-day Uganda, where most women aren’t able to legally own the land that they — not their husbands — farm.

This is also the case in rural India, where Moyles took part in a community discussion in which men who don’t grow the local crops answered all of her questions. The women, seated on the floor, remained silent even though they plant, weed, water, harvest and market the grains and vegetables that sustain their families.

"The women’s silence was a high-pitched scream that drowned out the chorus of male voices," Moyles wrote.

A young woman later approached Moyles and talked about her desire to study agriculture rather than engineering, so she could return to her home and help India’s female farmers, such as her own mother.

The strength of Women Who Dig comes from the passionate and moving personal stories shared by the women Moyles meets around the world. Some of them have been physically, mentally and emotionally abused and forced to flee from their homes by war, such as the women she meets in Uganda’s Nakivale Refugee Settlement, or by economic hardship, such as the Mexican immigrants who tend California’s vineyards and fields.

In all cases, the women are determined to improve their children’s lives through their toil in the fields and nurture positive changes in their societies.

Andrea Geary is a reporter with Canstar Community News.

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