Foreign Policy Magazine recently released its list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2011. We were disappointed—though not so surprised—by the paucity of women on this list. So, we’ve added six extraordinary women who deserve recognition.
Leymah Gbowee, Liberia. You’ve probably heard a lot about Leymah Gbowee, in the news and on our blog. She won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize and is the founder of AJWS’s grantee Women Peace and Security Network- Africa (WIPSEN), which is why we were so surprised that she doesn’t appear on Foreign Policy’s list. (Leymah was, however, named as one of Forbes’ 10 Most Interesting Women of 2011.) Together with activists from the Liberian women’s movement, Leymah mobilized women from all walks of life and across religious and ethnic lines to demand peace and put an end to Liberia’s devastating 14-year civil war. She also fought to ensure that women could participate in political processes and rebuild the country.
Too often when policy makers in Washington make bad decisions, the people of Kampala, Port au Prince, and Bogotá pay the price. This is exactly what will happen in Colombia if Congress approves the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
AJWS’s partners in Colombia work on a wide range of issues—from securing resource rights for indigenous people, to creating new agricultural systems for community development, to empowering marginalized youth. One thing that ALL of our partners have in common is that they oppose the Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
I’m a serious coffee drinker. But, admittedly, I know little about roasts, brews, or the land on which my beans are grown. Coffee is the U.S.’s largest food import, the second most valuable traded commodity only after oil. It’s also entangled in a complex web of issues involving human labor, the environment, climate change and international trade. I’ve been thinking more about these issues after reading a great post on Civil Eats and a recent New York Times article about Colombian coffee farmers (there’s a slideshow, too.) For the majority of small-scale coffee farmers in the developing world, the benefits of their hard work and economic investments are extremely limited. Rural farmers are isolated from global markets, and the long journey of a harvested coffee bean to the cup-o-Joe on your kitchen table is filled with powerful intermediaries.
The news has been buzzing with articles and commentary about the new UN report that about how agroecology can double food production in 10 years.
“Agro-ecology mimics nature not industrial processes. It replaces the external inputs like fertiliser with knowledge of how a combination of plants, trees and animals can enhance productivity of the land,” said Olivier De Schutter, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food, following the presentation of his annual report focusing on agro-ecology and the right to food to the U.N. Human Rights Council… Yields went up 214 percent in 44 projects in 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa using agro-ecological farming techniques over a period of 3 to 10 years… far more than any GM [genetically modified] crop has ever done… Other recent scientific assessments have shown that small farmers in 57 countries using agro-ecological techniques obtained average yield increases of 80 percent. Africans’ average increases were 116 percent… Today’s scientific evidence demonstrates that agro-ecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilisers in boosting food production in regions where the hungry live,” De Schutter said.”
My visit to Familaires Colombia, an AJWS partner working to support relatives of forcibly disappeared people from the long lasting armed conflict, was profound. I came to understand some of the causes and the real impact of the conflict in the daily lives of people from small towns. It really surprised me, on the one hand, the terror that the illegal armed groups tried to plant in the hearts of people in order to silence them, and on the other hand, the strength of these people to continue walking with dignity, and their tireless pursuit not only to find the bodies of their loved ones, but also to find justice for them.
What really happened in Casanare?