More than 150 women from all over the world are gathering at Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm in Dehradun for the Diverse Women for Diversity international festival from 4th to 8th of March.
Over fifty representatives of more than 20 countries from all continents, from Latin America to USA, Europe, UK, Japan, Africa, Australia, Canada among many others joined hands with over a hundred women representatives from 21 states of India and South East Asia, to celebrate together the unique and rich diversity of life, cultures, food and knowledge.
In the lead up to the International Women’s Day and the celebration of Holi, diverse women will celebrate our Sacred Mother Earth, by planting a Garden of Hope, sowing seeds, cooking and sharing Breads of Freedom.
It is a celebration of Nature, the Laws of Ecology and the regeneration of the Earth Family, through women’s creativity and power, by sharing prayers, music and dances.
Women from several states and regions such as South Africa, Mexico and Australia offered prayers, invocations and traditional songs, as the prayer to the Elements, to express devotion and care towards Nature and the food she provides us, and African invocation to Zep Tepi (Mother Earth):
“We breath in the ancient wisdoms from within, the activism from without and the visionaries that are yet to come, we breath in the whisperers of Ntu – those who plant seeds – collective seeds of consciousness – who raise bantu, hantu, Kintu, Kuntu into an interwoven web of interconnectedness . We breathe in the creative powers of our scared spaces and places throughout the world”
Diverse groups of women from many states of India, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Ladakh, Orissa, Rajasthan gifted everyone with songs to the Earth, such us Jagi Java song, Amar Desi Mati, Dharti Ma, Bhu Anna Datta. Women from Uttarakhand sang about the importance of seed saving, as with no seeds we have no food and no future, and women from Bengal sang songs on seeds, harvest song on paddy, the soil and mother earth.
Groups from Mahila Anna Swaraj – Women network for food Sovereignty shared and sewed together a huge variety of seeds as toor dal, pigeon pea, safflower, rajma, til, mustard, black & white bhatt, sunflower, ragi, koni, peanut, garlic, tomatoes, climate resilient rice and many others coming from more than 15 different regions of India.
International and national groups of women celebrated sacred Mother Earth through a mandala garden where seeds of hope and resilience were planted while singing prayers dedicated to the importance of seeds for living and healthy ecosystems, and to guarantee nutrient and genuine food to our communities and families.
Women from Costa Rica, Italy, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Canada, India, United States, Finland, Germany, Brasil participated sharing their stories of local food and seed resilience, their practices of food sovereignty and agroecology.
By jointly cooking and sharing traditional bread from many different countries and food from all over India, like Gur Ka Payas, Jhongra kidchi, Chookar soup, ratula, pickles, mishiari roti, jawar roti, gulgula, Dal ka and chapati, women celebrated the diversity of foods and food cultures, which also means diversity in our bodies and ecosystems and freedom to decide and choose over our own food systems.
Women shared stories on the relationship we have with our food, with nature, and with each other, that must be based on interconnectedness, on the links between Biodiversity, Seed, Food and the web of Life, the connections between Food, Environment, Health and Climate, the importance of an Economy of the Gift and an Economy of Care, where Bio-Cultural Diversity is the foundation of Peace with the Earth and Peace in humanity.
As Dr. Vandana Shiva, president of Navdanya stated: “Diverse Women for Diversity is a network that grew from our work at the 1996 World Food Summit to keep food sovereignty in women’s hands in the face of industrial agribusiness capture of the food system that creates on the one hand hunger, and on the other hand chronic diseases and biodiversity destruction. This network has been active during the recurrent meetings of the contracting parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, in the defence of Earth, the defence of people, humanity and future generations”.
More than twenty years ago, Navdanya promoted the Diverse Women for Diversity network (DWD), involving women from different regions and nations around the globe, issuing the Seattle DWD Declaration at the WTO Seattle meeting of 1999: “We, Diverse Women for Diversity, diverse in culture, race, religion, socio-economic conditions, have one common goal: biological and cultural diversity as the foundation of life on earth. Therefore we stand for self-sufficiency, self-reliance and solidarity, locally and globally”.
After more than twenty years, the same themes are ever more urgent to protect the earth living systems, our food and our health.
The program will continue in Charba, Vikasnagar, for a celebration of the Gift of Seed, and in Ponta Gurudwara for a celebration of the Gift of Food, and end at Navdanya Farm for the celebration of Holi with handmade natural colors, as well as Women’s Day.