Did you know that the 15th of October was the International Day of Rural Women? To celebrate, I thought I would post some facts and figures provided by others about community empowerment when women own land.

Since 2008, the day has recognized “the contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty”.

Supporting women in rural areas has multiple social and economic benefits, including;

  • Women’s empowerment benefits not only women themselves, but also their families and communities.
  • Farm productivity increases when women have access to agricultural inputs and relevant knowledge.
  • Women are dynamic organizers and participants in grass-roots organizations, and are effective in promoting and sustaining local self-help initiatives.
  • Malnutrition and mortality among both boys and girls are reduced when girls obtain greater access to primary and secondary education.
  • There is a strong correlation between women’s literacy and lower HIV/AIDS infection rates.
  • Women have a strong track record as prudent savers and borrowers in microfinance programmes, using income to benefit the entire household.

“Investing” (note the economic bias in the language) contributes to food security because women work longer hours than men.

According to the World Bank, 75 per cent of the poor in developing countries live in rural areas.11 While women work the land, they often do not hold formal and clear land titles. Less than two per cent of land in the developing world is owned by women, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).12 A lack of rights over land makes women extremely vulnerable to eviction and negatively affects their economic options. (WomenWatch)

At a seminar last week in honour of the day, researchers spoke about gender and land acquisition in rural agricultural communities.

The researchers also found that although many women spoke of ‘owning land,’ they, in fact, did not have any real legal rights to it.  Many of the joint-ownership agreements between spouses only included the husbands’ name in paperwork or granted him priority over his wife when making financial decisions.  Even land inherited from the woman’s family was often signed over to the husband without her knowledge. And in many cases, the degree to which a wife had legal protection of land rights depended entirely on the type of marriage arrangement she had with her husband.

Even in a country like Australia, I would suspect that fewer women own land than men, but in India, 70% of the female workforce is engaged in agriculture yet only 10% of women farmers own land.

Despite this attention given to the situation of rural women, discrimination remains rampant, from access to education and health care, to access to and control over land and other productive resources, to opportunities for employment, income-generating activities, and participation in public life. The rights and priorities of rural women continue to be insufficiently addressed – a situation that the International Day of Rural Women will, it is hoped, contribute to remedying.

I am reading a book from the library about a Collective based in Berkeley that was set-up in the 60’s. What is so extraordinary about The Cheese Board Collective is that they are still alive and well today.

Based on the kibbutz model, all the workers are paid equally. They have no hierarchy, and every member of the collective has equal power. Important business decisions are made by consensus.

As Olivia says in the book “I actually enjoy coming to work…I feel that I have a luxury of time that somebody earning six figures doesn’t have. Its very precious to me. Only in a place like this could I have that.”

This extraordinary worker-owned business grew organically, starting as a cheese shop. Soon they expanded to making their own bread, then started making pizzas in the 80’s. The pizza shop is actually run as an independent business alongside the original cheese and bread shop. Each day the collective makes a “Pizza of the Day” –

(Friday’s pizza (03.05.2010):

Asparagus, Shitake mushrooms, mozzarella and Montalban manchego cheese, garlic olive oil, fresh herbs.

Saturday’s pizza (03.06.2010):

Roma tomatoes, onions, mozzarella cheese, pinenuts, garlic olive oil, basil parmesan cheese.

Their website states that:

For tax and liability purposes it has been incorporated, with each collective member an equal shareholder and member of the board of directors. Upon joining each member is given ten shares worth $100/share. When a member leaves these shares are sold back to the corporation. All members are paid an equal hourly wage. Profits go to buy new equipment, raise wages, or are placed into our retirement fund. Moneys placed into this fund are distributed based on hours worked.

Pam: “Making food is both an art and a craft. To me, it’s life. My mom was a good cook. She had a wok in the fifties, a nice Jewish lady with a wok. I love shopping. I love to watch food grow. I love to play with it. I love eating.”

These workers feel that they are contributing to something important and nourishing of life. How satisfying.


For truly sustainable cities the former mayor of Curitiba says first you must get rid of your car.

Living without a car doesn’t have to be a total drag. While I have at times found it difficult to do without one, it certainly saves me money!

For the most part you can easily adapt to life without a car if you live in a city or large town that has good public transport. You will never miss your car, and the cost of bus tickets will be quickly off-set by the money you save by not having to pay for parking!

To continue to live without a car it is essential when moving house to live as near to trains, trams and buses as possible. The rent may be slightly higher, but just remember you are not paying to run a car.

The only times I miss having a car is when doing the weekly shopping (for instance, when it is raining, not so much fun!), picking up big loads, or to take a trip out of town on the weekend.

If you want to try living without owning a car try these strategies:

  • Join a car-sharing company (In Australia I use one called Flexicar)
  • Try a car-pooling site
  • Alternatively you could set up your own car-sharing arrangement, (It works best if you car-share with your neighbours, or someone living very close by)
  • Buy a bicycle with a trailer attachment (or panniers)
  • Take a taxi (even one trip a week will be cheaper than running a car!)
  • Rent a car (especially good for weekend trips out of town, and even a few trips a year is cheaper than owning your own car)

Some simple tips for going green

Many of us are doing what we can in our own homes to reduce our footprints and be sustainable. What about the workplace?

Turning off lights, reducing paper-use, recycling office consumables and using public transport or car-sharing are all easily implementable options.

I love Friends of the Earth’s approach, but unfortunately the suggestions are UK based. Here’s some Australian links:

ecobuy

econatural

Flexicar

Carpool

CarbonMarket

REAP ecopaper guide

For more practical suggestions to go green at your workplace try these links:

Planet Green

Sierra Club

350Here’s my attempt at 350 – some images that I made on my way to Uni in Thursday morning. A small gesture, but if mine is one of thousands, or even millions, that adds up to something – right?

Get involved, its pretty simple! For some inspiration visit the gallery at 350 org

Maybe you could make some art:

What do you get when you mix the arts and activism? Artivism!

With the International Day of Climate Action only a week away, now is the perfect time to start building some creative visuals for you action. You’ve been planning your action, making phone calls and having meetings: now is the time to have some fun, and get into the “hands-on” part of creating an action. The plan: organize an “Art Build”. Call your friends, or round up some local youth and set a time to spend 3 hours making art for your action. It doesn’t matter if you have 2 people or 20, we’ve got a few simple tricks that will help you make your action louder, more colorful, and more fun. A little art goes a long way! Fun events such as this are also great ways to strengthen your action community, and to get more and more people involved. You can even invite the press, and get some coverage before your action even starts.

There are lots of ways to get creative, and each day we receive new photos with all sorts of wonderful ideas. We’ve got a few things on our site that can help you, step by step, with the logisitics of making art for your action. Look at a few of the following pages, and let them spark your imagination. A good place to start is to make a banner for your action, this can appear front and center in your action photo: so everyone knows what your message is. You can create t-shirts for your action using these great stencils, or you can make headbands using potato prints. The possiblities are endless… Want to get some theater involved? Check out this script for a short skit that can be done quickly with groups of any age. Want to put some movement into this movement?  Look no further than this great idea for a dance performance. Don’t be afraid to push your limits – its all for the good of the climate movement.

Looking for more ideas? Check out our Spread the Word page for even more tips on how to create hand-made posters to advertise for your event, cardboard hats, instruments made out of garbage, and other fun ideas to get your action to stand out in a crowd. We are a vibrant, colorful and diverse global movement, lets show that to the world! Become an artivist today!

Or get involved in someone else’s action. Check out the actions that are happening near you. In Hobart, there are several events happening, including a plant collage at the Botanic Gardens, a procession on the waterfront, and the 350 photo challenge.

To find out and register to attend an event, search the map at 350.org

View Actions at 350.org

350 a350 b

Read more here: Science of 350350 Science

350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 390ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

There are three numbers you need to really understand global warming, 275, 390, and 350.

For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules per million other molecules in the atmosphere. 275 ppm CO2 is a useful amount—without some CO2 and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in our atmosphere, our planet would be too cold for humans to inhabit.

So we need some carbon in the atmosphere, but the question is how much?

Beginning in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal and gas and oil to produce energy and goods. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise, at first slowly and now more quickly. Many of the activities we do every day like turning the lights on, cooking food, or heating or cooling our homes rely on energy sources like coal and oil that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. We’re taking millions of years worth of carbon, stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere. By now—and this is the second number—the planet has 390 parts per million CO2 – and this number is rising by about 2 parts per million every year.

Scientists are now saying that’s too much – that number is higher than any time seen in the recorded history of our planet – and we’re already beginning to see disastrous impacts on people and places all over the world. Glaciers everywhere are melting and disappearing fast—and they are a source of drinking water for hundreds of millions of people. Mosquitoes, who like a warmer world, are spreading into lots of new places, and bringing malaria and dengue fever with them. Drought is becoming much more common, making food harder to grow in many places. Sea levels have begun to rise, and scientists warn that they could go up as much as several meters this century. If that happens, many of the world’s cities, island nations, and farmland will be underwater. The oceans are growing more acidic because of the CO2 they are absorbing, which makes it harder for animals like corals and clams to build and maintain their shells and skeletons. Coral reefs could start dissolving at an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 450-500 ppm. These impacts are combining to exacerbate conflicts and security issues in already resource-strapped regions.

(Text from the 350 website)