The mood was festive, the air charged with good cheer and excitement as the Women’s Market, a project of Oxfam in the Philippines and partners, set up shop for the first time in Mindanao. Oxfam ambassadors Cherry Pie Picache and Ping Medina got the crowd on its feet when they put on an impromptu musical performance.
The Women’s Market brings together women vegetable and rice farmers and shell gleaner and fishers from all over the Mindanao countryside, now considered the country’s food basket, to sell their produce – and their ideas for change – to urban consumers.
The Women’s Market, apart from carrying healthy, organic produced by women sustainably (growing food without harming the planet), also holds learning forums, cooking demonstrations, and an exhibit capturing the daily struggles of women food producers – to impart the need for and value of supporting women farmers and fishers.
Women farmers and fishers haven’t gotten much press; but in truth, half of the food that reaches our dining tables, is the product of many hours of back-breaking work by women. But they aren’t getting the same support as men food producers.
A study made by Daryl Leyesa of Centro Saka, Inc. found that only 36% of women farmers have access to irrigation, only 29% have access to seeds, 26% to training, 23% to extension service, 21% to fertilizer and seeds subsidy, 20% to pest control management, 20% to calamity assistance, and 14% to financial assistance.
But give them the same attention as men and, according to projections made by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), women will increase their food production by 25% - a number we’ll find handy when we face global food crises like the one in 2008.
The recognition of the role they play in feeding the country is long overdue women, so help us trump it up some more. Buy from the Women’s Market and show some love to the unsung heroines who supply us with good food – food that’s good for our bodies and good on the environment.
More photos of Cherry Pie and Ping and of activities at Women’s Market on our Facebook account: Oxfam Pilipinas. Happy Women’s Day!
All photos by: Ruby Thursday More