Home > Eventos > Informes de eventos > DWD Festival: Celebrating Diverse Women for Diversity at Navdanya Farm (2 – 8 March 2023)

From March 2-8 2023, the Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm hosted the Diverse Women for Diversity Festival (DWD), a coming together of the international movement of  Diverse Women for Diversity.  Over 50 women activists, farmers, and researchers from more than 20 countries, from Latin America, the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, Japan, Egypt, South Africa, Australia, and Canada, amongst others, gathered with over a hundred women representatives from 21 states in India to share struggles and build coordinated actions in defense of the Earth, biodiversity, and food. The gathering represented a fundamental step in strengthening relationships and building alliances among women’s struggles in different areas of the world.

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Diverse Women for Diversity

Diverse Women for Diversity was founded in 1997 following the Conference on Plant Genetic Resources in Leipzig in June 1996, as an international network to strengthen women’s movements on the ground and provide a common international platform to join forces against the commodification of life, food, and cultures. For over twenty years DWD has gathered women’s voices and local struggles from all over the world to provide an alternative to the dominant paradigm of industrial agriculture and the corporate takeover of our food systems and community decision-making.

The movement today has a presence on all continents and keeps echoing women’s voices coming from the grassroots level to international advocacy and negotiations, focusing on biodiversity, food, water, and the defense of the commons. In times of severe and interconnected crises, DWD has played a fundamental role in highlighting women’s power in sustaining ecological food systems, economies of care, and peace with the Earth.

Also read:

Seattle, 1999: Diverse Women for Diversity Declaration to WTO

Diverse Women of the World Resolve to Defend Biological and Cultural Diversity through Non-violence

Pledge To Be Seed Guardians and To Protect Our Traditional Seeds

Biodiversity Or Gmos: Will the Future of Nutrition be in Women’s Hands or Under Corporate Control?

Diverse Women for Diversity Gathering 2023

This year, the international DWD gathering was hosted on the exemplary Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm, an agroecological and poison-free zone that for over 25 years has been used to educate the next generations of agroecological farmers. The Biodiversity Farm and its Community Seed Bank provide a unique example of ecological regeneration based on care for the soil, plants, seed, water, and food.

During the gathering, the women coming from diverse countries and regions worked together on an “Ecofeminist Manifesto on Making Peace with the Earth”, which is set to be launched in Rome in June 2023. The Manifesto is a collective vision of the ecological, cultural, social and economic regeneration necessary to shift away from the extractive, monocultural economy.

To demonstrate the power of international solidarity and convergence, the women of the DWD movement also wrote and sent an open letter in support of the Mexican government’s decree to phase out the use of GMO corn and glyphosate and stop the attack on life and biodiversity through GMOs. The open letter reads, “We as diverse women were born as a movement in the defense of biocultural diversity and resist GMOs everywhere since GMOs, pesticides, and the industrial food system are the single biggest reason for the disappearance of biodiversity. We will continue our struggle in defense of life, diversity, and freedom.” The letter has now circulated widely and received hundreds of signatures from all over the world.

Read the Open Letter from Diverse Women for Diversity to world leaders (March 8th)

Read Dr. Vandana Shiva’s article (March 8th) Holi: the colours of biodiversity

Read the Press Release (March 8th): Happy International Women’s Day and Happy Holi

Read the Press Release (March 4th): Diverse Women for Diversity United for a Diverse Future

Read the article (April 18th) Regeneration of the Earth through Agroecology and Economies of Care: Diverse Women for Diversity against ecological, economic and social collapse

Nadia El Hage Scialabba, an international expert on food ecology and current senior fellow at the Swette Center for sustainable food systems, declared: “We have the duty together to join hands and to resist peacefully, and this can be done by communities like us. One of our recommendations as women is to focus on education and memory. We need to remember our agronomic songs, celebrations, and festivals as well as home cooking of genuine food to educate ourselves and others about biocultural health”.

The gathering itself turned into a week-long celebration, in which women not only discussed issues that are of utmost importance for our future but also sang and danced together, built collective ties, and bridged cultural diversity.

As Nicoletta Dentico, DWD activist and Head of the Global Health Justice Program at the Society for International Development, has stressed during the international festival, What we discussed over these days and what our manifesto says is that One Health is what we did today. This is health, being together, dancing, seeding, and listening to each other. This is the health we want for our planet and not the medicalization and corporatization or digitalization of health and food”.

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Report of the DWD Festival activities & events

DWD Meetings on Ecofeminism Manifesto – 2nd-3rd of March

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The international gathering kicked off on March 2nd and 3rd with talks for the development of an Ecofeminism Manifesto on Making Peace with the Earth. More than 50 women from all continents, all sharing a life of struggle and research on food, health, agroecology, seeds, ecofeminism, and ecology gave their contributions in the first plenary discussion on “Ecofeminism: the Creative Power of Nature & Women”, in a dialogue with Navdanya President, Dr. Vandana Shiva.

Discussions were focused on the issues of seeds, monocultures, GMOs, agribusiness and industrial agriculture, and the role of women in food systems around the world, to lay down the main threads for a common Manifesto.

Dr. Vandana Shiva shared the story of Navdanya’s name and how she started her lifelong struggle for seeds: “I was studying seed collection and this farmer had nine crops. I had previously done a monoculture study in Punjab, and I had never seen a mix of 9 crops. So I asked why and the farmer turned around and said, don’t you know? It’s Navdanya, it’s the nine planets in the cosmos, the 9 seeds in my field, and the diversity we need for our food for a healthy life. They are one continuum, and I am maintaining that continuum, I am maintaining the Cosmos, I am maintaining the Earth and my family’s health.

Diversity in our crops and food means diversity in our nutrition and diversity in our bodies. Diversity is strength against the monoculture of exploitation and commodification of nature and life.

During the opening discussion, Dr. Shiva stressed that “what we are up against is the arrogance of destroyers thinking that they are creators. Destruction is treated as a creative act, and this is what our Manifesto stands against.”

The Manifesto discussions followed up with a two-day session of working groups focused on different topic areas, such as:

  •  Sacred Mother Earth, the laws of ecology, and regenerating the Earth family
  •  Biodiversity, seed, food, and the Web of Life
  •  Food, environment and health and
  • the Economy of care, gift economy, and making peace with the Earth.

During the first days of the gathering, the international participants visited Navdanya’s Community Seed Bank, where highly diverse varieties of seeds coming from the farm and seed savers communities all over India, are stored each year to maintain seed diversity to adapt to climate change.

International DWD Festival on 4th of May “Earth Rising, Women Rising: Regenerating the Earth, Seeding the Future”

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On the 4th of May, more than 100 women farmers from 21 different states of India gathered at the Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm to celebrate the International DWD Festival with women from all over the world. The women celebrated our Sacred Mother Earth by planting a Garden of Hope, sowing seeds, cooking, and sharing Breads of Freedom.

Women from several states and regions such as South Africa, Mexico, and Australia offered prayers, invocations, and traditional songs, such as a prayer to the Elements and an African invocation to Zep Tepi (Mother Earth), to express devotion and care towards Nature and the food she provides. Diverse groups of women from many states of India, such as Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Ladakh, Orissa, and Rajasthan gifted everyone with songs to the Earth, such as Jagi Java song, Amar Desi Mati, Dharti Ma, and Bhu Anna Datta.

Groups from Mahila Anna Swaraj – Women Network for Food Sovereignty shared and planted together a variety of local seeds such as toor dal, pigeon pea, safflower, rajma, til, mustard, black & white bhatt, sunflower, ragi, 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 on the importance of seeds for living and healthy ecosystems, and guaranteeing nutrient and genuine food to our communities.

Women representatives of civil society movements from Costa Rica, Italy, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Canada, India, the United States, Finland, Germany, and Brazil shared their stories of local food and seed resilience, as well as their practices of food sovereignty and agroecology.

By jointly cooking and sharing traditional bread from many different countries and food from all over India, 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.

March 5th Charba, Vikasnagar – Celebration of the Gift of Seed
March 6th Ponta Gurudwara – Celebration of the Gift of Food

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On March 5th women from the DWD movement visited Charba, Vikasnagar, a community of farmers and seed savers that is part of the MAS network. The women from the festival met more than 30 women seed keepers from Mahila Anna Swaraj (Women Network for Food Sovereignty). Women from Charba shared traditional songs and dances. By singing and dancing together women joined their hands becoming one community, united in diversity, celebrating the gift of seed.

The meeting between international women participants and local women seed savers was a powerful exchange of knowledge and cultural diversity. 

A long and stimulating discussion with women seed savers included questions such as: How can communities achieve food sovereignty? What is the role of seeds in food sovereignty? How can farmers handle and face climate changes and climate disasters? How is the knowledge passed on to new generations?

After the discussion and sharing of experiences from other countries (Mexico, Japan, South Africa, Italy, and many others) women shared food and sat to eat together, celebrating genuine food and each other’s company.

On March 6th women visited the Ponta Gurudwara, a fundamental spiritual site for the Sikh religion.

In the Gurudwara, food is prepared every day by volunteers and offered free of charge for up to 70,000 people. By sharing a meal with thousands of people, participants experienced the gift of food embedded in cultural, spiritual, and political meaning.

Providing healthy, accessible, and nourishing food represents a true act of resistance against the corporate takeover of food systems and the toxicity of industrially processed fake food. Women celebrated and encountered cultural diversity and the spiritual roots of peace and coexistence between all living species on the planet.

7 March: Making Holi colour with Natural Plants

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In preparation for Holi, women gathered at Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm to cook together and learn how to prepare natural colors by harvesting wild and organic plants, such as beetroot, the flame of the forest, turmeric, spinach, and marigold on the farm.

In the book “Colours of Biodiversity, Abir Gulal, Fibres of Freedom, Annam, Food as Health” (Navdanya 2018), all the traditional recipes are detailed, on how to extract colors from the rich biodiversity of plants growing in our fields.

8 March: Happy Holi and Happy International Women’s Day

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On March 8th, the last day of the festival, the women celebrated Holi and International Women’s Day at the Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm using the natural colors of biodiversity.

As Dr. Vandana Shiva, president of Navdanya, stated: “Women of the world are the primary guardians and custodians of biodiversity and life. They are holding and protecting the ancient and precious knowledge on how to use and preserve biodiversity for healthy food, healthy communities, and healthy environments.

On this important date, women were celebrated, along with their fundamental role in society, and their struggles for radical empowerment and ecological regeneration.

On this last day, Navdanya and the DWD movement celebrated the end of the festival and the beginning of a wave of action and global alliances among women and civil society organizations for the regeneration of Nature and living communities of the globe.

DWD Celebration in 2018

In October 2018, the Women’s Biodiversity Festival took place at Navdanya Farm, where communities from India and other parts of the globe cooked the diversity of breads and traditional dishes from around the world, to launch the “Our Bread, Our Freedom” campaign. Women and small farmers of Navdanya networks from all over India were joined by international experts and civil society movements’ representatives to discuss Seed and Food Sovereignty, Biodiverse Organic Farming methods and programs, and how we can create solidarity in our communities.

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Learn more: Celebrating Biodiversity at Navdanya Farm


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