Guatamala Veggie Market

Guatamala Veggie Market480
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One Essay Response

  1. acoopersmith says:

    An elderly Guatemalan woman, a blanket lain over her lap, sells produce at the local veggie market. The vibrant florals on her top and the violet wrap in her hair contrast sharply with the dusty earth surrounding her, juxtaposing the woman’s femininity with the soil she toiled to grow the vegetables before her. The woman’s sun drenched hands and wrinkled skin embody the hard work of a farmer, a life she has likely always known. Her expression is tired and her posture strained, but her demeanor is not resigned. Rather, her presence is resilient- it represents the grit female farmers share around the world. In Guatemala Veggie Market, Rachel Tanur eloquently captures the interrelationships that link gender, the environment, and sustainable development.

    Agricultural production and distribution are commonly female enterprises, especially in rural regions around the world, where women are responsible for the management of farmlands and local environmental resources. Traditionally, the role of women as mothers and as caretakers of the community has translated into fulfilling the critical role of “foodgivers, responsible for providing sustenance to children and elders” (Holtzman 2001: 1045). Women’s duties on the farm extend into the market, paving the way for women in rural societies to engage with the economy and earn an independent wage. Development discourse has increasingly acknowledged the vital role gender plays from the farm to the market and recognized the need to address gender inequality to encourage sustainable development (World Bank Group).

    Globally, women have less access to critical agricultural assets such as land ownership and financial resources relative to men. Gender disparities in political representation further hinder women’s opportunities to voice their economic interests. By addressing the rights of women, developmental programs inevitably support the millions of women who have an essential role in the world’s production of subsistence agriculture. Reducing gender inequalities will lead to the growth of more food, higher incomes for female farmers, as well as reduced poverty and food insecurity. This is sustainable development- healthy environments, stable food production, thriving rural communities, and empowered women.

    Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan feminist and environmentalist, was cognizant of the connection between women’s rights, the environment, and agricultural production and fought for individuals like the woman in Guatemala Veggie Market. She empowered female farmers to address environmental problems like deforestation and soil erosion by planting indigenous seeds that would support a healthy ecosystem. Maathai founded an environmental organization, the Green Belt Movement, to encourage women to advocate for their economic and political interests as food producers and distributors. Though she worked primarily in Africa, Wangari’s advocacy for female farmers speaks to the rights women fight for around the world. Rachel Tanur’s image, a woman and her veggies in Guatemala, resonates with the lived struggles and experiences of women in agriculture from Latin America to Africa. In Guatemala Veggie Market, Rachel powerfully captured this intimate human connection that spans the globe. Despite geographic, cultural, and historical differences, the empowerment of women around the world is inextricably linked to their connection with the land.

    Holtzman, J. (2001). Food of elders, the "ration" of women: Brewing, gender, and domestic processes among the samburu of northern kenya. American Anthropologist, 103(4), 1041-1058. 
    World Bank Group. Gender and Agriculture.