Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

Background information on presenters

Maria Mies


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).
She is Professor of Sociology at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences[1], which is a Fachhochschule in Cologne, Germany. She worked for many years in India. In 1979 she established the Women and Development programme at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, Netherlands. She has been active in the women's movement and in women's studies since the late 1960s. She has published several books and many articles on feminist, ecological and Third World issues. One of her main concerns is the development of an alternative approach in methodology and in economics. Having retired from teaching in 1993, she continues to be active in the women's and other social movements. She has published a book on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment and, with Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen, has written a book on the subsistence perspective (from Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale).


Farida Akhter

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. “We are essentially a policy advocacy and research organisation. At the same time, we do implement the ideas which come out of our research works in the form of various programmes and projects. The implementations are elements of our living interaction with the community. As a result they strengthen the empirical foundation of our investigation and analysis…”
For information on Farida’s books see:


Jean Grossholtz

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.  She is also part of local, regional, and international networks for food security and globalization issues, and a founding member of Diverse Women for Diversity and key member of Women and Life on Earth.
See Jean’s review of Vandana Shiva’s book Stolen Harvest The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply at



Vandana Shiva

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.  She later shifted to inter-disciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy, which she carried out at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore.
In 1982, she founded an independent institute, the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times, in close partnership with local communities and social movements.  In 1991, she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native see, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade. In 2004 she started Bija Vidyapeeth, an international college for sustainable living in collaboration with Schumacher College, U.K.
Dr. Shiva has contributed in fundamental ways to changing the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food.  Her books, “The Violence of Green Revolution” and “Monocultures of the Mind” have become basic challenges to the dominant paradigm of non-sustainable, reductionist Green Revolution Agriculture.  Through her books Biopiracy, Stolen Harvest, Water Wars, Dr. Shiva has made visible the social, economic and ecological costs of corporate led globalisation...
Read 7 page official biography in pdf format here

Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen

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. She has lectured and researched at universities in Germany (Bielefeld, Berlin), the Netherlands (Den Haag) and Austria (Vienna, Klagenfurt). Currently, she is director of the Institute for Theory and Practice of Subsistence (Institut für Theorie und Praxis der Subsistenz, e. V.) in Bielefeld, Germany, and was a founding member of Women and Life on Earth e.V.
For a list of her publications in English see:


Marina Meneses Velazquez

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. (Translation from Spanish by Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen). Marina was featured among others in the film BLOSSOMS OF FIRE  (RAMO DE FUEGO) “a dazzling, whirling dance of a film that celebrates the extraordinary lives of the Isthmus Zapotecs of southern Oaxaca, Mexico. The Isthmus Zapotecs, whose culture is rooted in a strong work ethic and fierce independent streak, have resulted not only in powerful women, but also in the region’s progressive politics and an unusual tolerance of alternative gender roles. Made over a period of ten years, BLOSSOMS OF FIRE was shot and edited entirely on 16mm film. The film is Maureen Gosling’s debut as a producer/ director.”…
more at:

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