#OneBookWednesday: International Women’s Day 2016: Global Perspectives on Women, Food Security, and Agriculture

By Cynthia Ann S. RSS Wed, March 23, 2016

One Book, One Philadelphia teams up every year for programming with the University of Pennsylvania, and every year they knock it out of the park for International Women’s Day. This year’s program focused on investing in women in agriculture, a theme we saw in Cold Mountain with Ada and Ruby. The two women in the novel worked the land to live, using what little resources they had to survive through the Civil War. Across the globe, there are women famers who live similarly for their family’s survival. For this year's program, the University of Pennsylvania brought together a panel of local women fighting for the advancement of women farmers, globally and within Philadelphia.

The panel was moderated by Brooke Schipporeit, a Master of Social Work Candidate at Penn’s School of Social Policy and Practice, and included some of the area’s top thinkers on the issue of food sustainability: Katera Moore, the Director of the Community Food Education Program at the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative; Kirtrina M. Baxter, community organizer for the Garden Justice Legal Initiative, who works with gardeners around Philadelphia to assist them with gaining access to land and other resources; and Betsy Teutsch, author of 100 under $100: Tools for Empowering Global Women.

Baxter shared the critical point that while many areas of Philadelphia are often noted as food deserts, this terminology, in her view, is incorrect—we should instead be referring to this issue in communities as food apartheid. The lack of nutritious and wholesome sources of foods in lower class and African American communities are not natural occurrences, but rather imposed systems of oppression.

It’s deceiving terminology like this, as well as a lack of research and acknowledgement in nutrition and agriculture, that trap women and other marginalized groups under a glass ceiling. We live in a world where women farmers produce 20% to 30% less than their male counterparts due to unequal shares in access and resources, where women can’t feed their children because their country is forced into farming inedible products that benefit only capitalism, and where women in agriculture are constantly fighting to not be rendered invisible.

Globally, 2016 is a crucial year for agriculture and development. The United Nations released the new Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, that will shape the next 15 years of policy. SDG #2 calls to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture, while SDG #5 calls for gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. All of the 17 SDGs are bound together by agriculture, and investing in women in agriculture can increase employment while reducing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.

On a local level, panelists claim there’s a lot that we as community members can do to help support Philadelphia women in farming, including aiding the advancement in research of women in agriculture, pushing for an increase in community gardens across all areas of Philadelphia, buying local produce and groceries, and bolstering community education to inform personal choices and local policy surrounding Philadelphia gardeners.

We’ve come a long way since Ada and Ruby in Cold Mountain, and while their journey in farming has ended, ours still has a long way to go.

For a full list of One Book events, visit our online calendar or download our printed guidebook.

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

Leave this field empty

Add a Comment to #OneBookWednesday: International Women’s Day 2016: Global Perspectives on Women, Food Security, and Agriculture

Email is kept private and will not be displayed publicly
Comment must be less than 3000 characters