Focus on "Diverse Women for Diversity", an international network of women committed to the Living

March 8, 2023

« We are part of the Earth, not separate from her. The harm we cause to the earth becomes harm to our bodies.
The war against the earth & our bodies begins in patriarchal minds, translates into instruments of war,
today’s agrochemicals. Women lead the way to make Peace With The Earth. »

Dr. Vandana Shiva

As the UN solemnly announces today the worrying regression of gender equality at a global level, the crucial role of women in the preservation of health and biodiversity was the focus of the festival of the international women’s network Diverse Women for Diversity* which ends today. Since March 2nd, about fifty members, women from 25 to 86 years old, and from all countries (South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, USA – California and Massachussets…) gathered at the Navdanya biodiversity conservation farm next to Dehradun, north of India, for 7 days of reflection, discussions and celebration around the defense of Life. 

Last October, at the Ecoposs by Imagine Festival, we had received Dr. Vandana Shiva, the President of this one-of-a-kind network. Some of our team accepted her invitation to join them. She reminded us of the importance of preserving local seeds for the future, in terms of both food and health. Together, we worked on outlining broadly a more sustainable future around 4 major themes: biodiversity, food, health and the care economy.

Navdanya, a network of skills exchange, a community of solidarity

The Navdanya network, created by Vandana Shiva more than 20 years ago, trains village women to preserve, exchange for free and develop local seeds: they are the “seeds savers”. The seeds are stored for 2 years before being planted back into the soil. They are thus always adapted to the modifications of the soil due to climate change. This autonomy has allowed village women to feed their families during Covid. One of the strengths of the network is to always take inspiration from the traditional methods, such as allowing villagers to store seeds at home.

The communities are mutually supportive:  they have organised a community bank system allowing to collectively address an unexpected expense of one of them. 

To date, more than two million women have benefited from this training. 

Dr. Shiva, a world figure of ecofeminism

Dr. Shiva’s commitment to small farmers, women, indigenous populations and biodiversity has been rewarded several times at the international level: Alternative Nobel Prize (1993), Blue Planet Prize (2007), Sydney Peace Prize (2010), Danielle Mitterrand Prize (2016), BBC 100 Women (2019). Like a fearless knight, she defies the powerful to protect the poorest. She does not hesitate to oppose the agri-food and pharmaceutical lobbies as evidenced by her fight against GMOs, Bayer, Monsanto or Coca Cola. A peace activist, she actively stands against any form of privatization of life, water, land, seeds… She is recognized even in the Vatican, where her expertise and her humanism are regularly solicited by the Pope himself.

Exceptional day on March 4

Around one hundred women, members of the Navdanya community, joined us for a time of celebration and testimonies, illustrating the strength of a cultural and spiritual plurality. Coming from 21 states of India and South East Asia, they dressed in their traditional festive clothes to celebrate our union around the respect of the Living and the richness of our differences, in terms of origin, cultures, food and knowledge. Several of them, from Ladakh, Rajahstan, Uttarakhand, Orissa, Bengal… sang traditional songs in tribute to Mother Earth, our mother earth.

The Garden of Hope has been enriched with additional seeds, symbols of those actions that make the link between fundamental commitments and daily life. 

By coincidence, India celebrates Holi today, also the closing day of the festival! This Hindu celebration is intended as a symbol of the victory of good over evil, fertility and the happy arrival of spring, with general jubilation, battles of colored powders and water and bonfires.

Another example of Navdanya’s socially embedded work is raising awareness about the toxicity of modern colored powders. From wild plants and edible roots, the women of the network create natural powders and promote them. Another way to raise awareness through example!

*DWD is an international network of women campaigning since 1996 for the sovereignty of living organisms, particularly in terms of seeds, and who defend organic and local agriculture.

While women are standing up to protect Gaia, the earth and the soil, we are happy to learn that, finally, an important step forward in the protection of the oceans has been achieved 3 days ago. An agreement described as HISTORIC on the oceans has been adopted by the United Nations, after almost twenty years of negotiations and intense mobilization from civil society! 

Affirming the will to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, as agreed at COP15, this treaty paves the way for the creation of fully or highly protected marine areas in all the world’s oceans.

The hard work of ratifying the treaty and protecting the oceans begins now. All of this is a source of Hope that it is up to us to maintain 😏

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