Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

Women's Action for Biodiversity

Past and present - What have we done and where are we now?

Organisers and moderation: Anna Gyorgy, Women and Life on Earth e.V., Sabine Brückmann, Women in Europe for a Common Future e.V.

The first part of this workshop focused on the work of Diverse Women for Diversity, with presentations from a founder and member, Jean Grossholtz and Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen. Their introductions led to a lively discussion of the role of women in protecting – and fighting for – biological and cultural diversity.

Other presentations were made by:

Viviana Figueroa, a 27 year-old member of the Omaguaca-Kolla Indigenous People from the province of Jujuy, and “a tireless advocate for Indigenous Peoples' rights in Argentina and throughout the world, active on international, regional, national, and local levels.”

Marina Meneses Velazquez, from Juchitán, the well-known "City of Women" in southern Mexico on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, who reported on women’s roles in the lokal economy and culture. She works for Ecológico Juchiteco and as a municipal councilor for ecology.

All over the world women put the food on the table, mothers feed the children and it is mostly women who are propagating seed, looking after small livestock and milking the cattle. Biodiversity of species and breeds has been and continues to be increased and cultivated through the work of women. Women are gardeners, peasant farmers, collectors of forest fruits, wild herbs and forest feed; they are livestock owners, dairy farmers, fisherwomen and often also grocers. Depending on habitat and social tradition, the exact modalities of how women look after food differ widely. It is precisely this cultural diversity which supported or even created biodiversity. Therefore, the opening theme of our women’s workshop was the familiar motto: Diverse Women for Diversity.  (see link to documents from DWD at right)

A film team worked with WLOE and WECF to document the Women of Planet Diversity, from the opening Demonstration and Festival on May 12 through the end of the conference. During the congress they filmed the workshop presentations and many individual interviews. This project will hopefully continue and expand, with additional participants and funding.
The first short films from Planet Diversity are on-line at:

Planet Diversity Bonn: Women and GMO

Planet Diversity Bonn: Women at the final plenary part 1

Planet Diversity: Women´s statement at final plenary 2

Staying in touch! To get on the mailing list for follow-up to this workshop send an e-mail to:

Photo: Some of the 50 women in the workshop, who thanks to volunteer translators could participate in German, English, French or Spanish.

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Last Contributions

Background Papers and further reading

Background information on presenters:
Maria Mies (born 1931) is a professor of sociology and author of several influential feminist books, including Indian Women and Patriarchy (1980), Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale (1986), and (with Bennholdt-Thomsen and von Werlhof) Women: The Last Colony (1988).
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Farida Akhter is the executive director of UBINIG and the publisher of Narigrantha Prabartana, the first and the only feminist publishing house in Bangladesh. UBINIG is the abbreviation of its Bengali name Unnayan Bikalper Nitinirdharoni Gobeshona, in English, Policy Research for Development Alternatives.
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Jean Grossholtz Professor emeritus at the Dept. of Women’s Studies, Mt. Holyoke College, Massachusetts, USA, Jean helped organize the Women's Pentagon Action (1980-82) and has long been active in peace and social justice work.
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Dr. Vandana Shiva is trained as a Physicist and did her Ph.D. on the subject “Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory” from the University of Western Ontario.
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Marina Meneses Velazquez comes from Juchitán, the well-known "City of Women" in southern Mexico on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. She will report on her work for  Ecológico Juchiteco and as a municipal councillor for ecology, and on the relationship between protecting the cultural archaeological heritage and protecting the biodiversity on the isthmus.
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Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen, professor, ethnologist and sociologist, has lived and researched in Mexico for many years. Her topics include feminist research and rural and regional economy in Latin America and Europe.
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Women's Action for BiodiversityAction de femmes pour la biodiversitéFrauenaktion für biologische VielfaltLa acción de mujeres por la biodiversidad

Local Organising Committee