Global Gathering of Women Pastoralists: Global Action for Local Survival
Global Gathering Global Action forof Women Pastoralists Local Survival
Global Gathering Global Action forof Women Pastoralists Local Survival photographs Michael Benanav text and coordination Jessica Duncan graphic design Luca Bendandi
MARAG IFAD This PhotobookEstablished in 1994, MARAG – the Maldhari Rural The International Fund for Agricultural This photobook has been developed to highlightAction Group – is a non-governmental organization Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the and share the activities that took place at the firstthat encourages Maldhari and other marginalized United Nations, was established as an international Global Gathering of Women Pastoralists. It alsocommunities to take control of bettering their financial institution in 1977 as one of the major serves to raise awareness about pastoralism andlives through grassroots empowerment and outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference. the important role that women pastoralist play.bottom-up, small-scale approaches. Maldhari are IFAD’s mission is to enable poor rural people to The shared challenges and common goals addressedthe pastoralist peoples of the Indian province of overcome poverty. IFAD is dedicated to eradicating at the Global Gathering are presented here throughGujarat. rural poverty in developing countries. Seventy-five photographs and descriptive text. The images also per cent of the world’s poorest people - 1.4 billionToday, MARAG works in over 300 villages and help to illustrate the diversity of pastoralist cultures women, children and men - live in rural areas andoperates an active eco-community training and around the world, as well as the energy, hope, integrity depend on agriculture and related activities forempowerment centre. and spirit of pastoralist women. their livelihoods.
Global Gathering ofMaldhari pastoralists from Gujarat,India, participate in a forum at theGlobal Gathering of Women Pastoralists Women Pastoralists Delegates from 30 countries participated in the Gathering • Afghanistan • Indonesia • Niger • Azerbaijan • Iran held in November 2010 • Russia in a rural setting in the • • Burkina Faso Italy Indian state of Gujarat • • Spain Cameroon • Jordan • Tanzania • Canada marked a momentous • Kenya occasion and opportunity • • Tibet China for pastoralist women from • Kyrgystan • Turkey around the world to unite, • Egypt share experiences and • • Mali Uganda develop a Global Action Plan. • Ethiopia • Mongolia • United Kingdom • France • Nepal • Uzbekistan • Germany • Vietnam • India
Pastoralism A Maldhari girl at her family’s nomadic camp in Kutch, Gujarat M obile pastoralism, which includes Mobile pastoralists make up a significant minority nomadism and transhumance, is a in many countries around the world. They are socio-cultural and economic way of life often ethnic or religious minorities, are often that relies on rearing livestock and is often politically marginalized, and often have poor accessa socio-cultural and sustained through seasonal migration to formal education and health care. There are noeconomic way of life and grazing on marginal lands. definite figures about the number of nomadic andthat relies on rearing Livestock can include cattle, yaks, sheep and pastoralist peoples in the world, but estimates range from 100 to 200 million. However, thislivestock. goats, horses and donkeys, camels (both one- and number greatly increases when extensive agro- two-humped), llamas and alpacas, and reindeer. pastoralists are included. Nomadic or itinerant pastoralists are At the Global Gathering of Women Pastoralists,often sustained through communities of people who migrate from one participants suggested that the number place to another with herd animals rather of mobile pastoralists may be as high asseasonal migration and than settling in one location. They rely on the 300 million as, by their estimates, theregrazing on marginal lands. intensive management of their animals. are over 100 million in India alone.
The Importance Pastoralism, notably mobile pastoralism, is the most viable formof Pastoralism of production and land use for most of the world’s fragile drylands. P astoralism is recognized as a sustainable result of perceived administrative problems livelihood system that positively contributes posed by their mobile livelihoods. to regional economies, food security, biodiversity Migratory routes are being blocked and grazing and sustainable management of natural resources. land seized for industrial and other non- Yet pastoralism is under increasing legal, agricultural uses. Many conservation efforts economic, social and political threat. These have created nature reserves along traditional threats may be overt or subtle, often taking the migratory routes and now restrict access or form of disincentives and barriers to pastoralists’ prohibit pastoralists from passing through with traditional ability to move with their livestock. their animals. Many pastoralists are denied the right to vote and have no voice in political Despite evidence clearly illustrating the processes. There are also challenges with important environmental services performed respect to ensuring education for their children by pastoralists, they are subject to great and securing proper medical care. Often these misunderstanding, as well as social, economic forces coerce pastoralists to become sedentary, and political marginalization, often as a abandoning their culture and their livelihoods.
Women Women play a crucial role within pastoralist communities both asPastoralists keepers of livestock as well as maintainers of family cohesion W omen have proven to be resilient and have for women in pastoral societies, it’s important ensured the wellbeing of their families, to note that in many countries including India households and animal. Despite the challenges and Afghanistan, pastoralist women frequently they face, including poverty, limited access to experience higher social positions and greater maternal and child healthcare, and the traditional freedoms than non-pastoralist women. Among restrictions of gender roles, pastoral women the reasons for this is that much of the work that can be, and are, influential forces for change women do in pastoralist communities takes place within their communities and around the world. outside of the home. It is acknowledged that when Moreover, in the face of these challenges, women women’s work is relegated to the home it often pastoralists have been active participants in goes unnoticed and is undervalued. However, given global policy dialogues. The Global Gathering of the migratory nature of pastoralists, the bulk of Pastoralist Women sought to highlight and build the work of men and women is outdoors and often upon this. While gender roles are often limiting co-dependent.
Pastoralist ProfileHalima IseAfar tribe ofnorthern Ethiopia sold at market. The age-old foundation of Afar for months, while their livestock herds perished inH alima Ise belongs to the Afar tribe of northern livelihood is eroding, leaving its members faced the waters below. Ethiopia. Her clan, the Ba’adoo Afar, are with extreme poverty and chronic malnutrition.known as the “people of high grass and milk.” Halima is a model of resilience. After fleeing herFully nomadic, with only a few families settled The Afar are also victims of hostile raids, and for first marriage (which was arranged), she beganon the banks of the Awash River, her people nearly twenty years have been forced to defend to build a new life thanks to a women’s educationtraditionally herd cattle. But, over the past five themselves from invading (and much better and empowerment program offered by the Afaryears, they’ve had to make a dramatic shift in their equipped) tribes from neighbouring Djibouti. Pastoralist Development Association. There, shepastoral practices. The high grass for which their Meanwhile, the Ethiopian government, which learned to read and, eventually, to teach. Shecommunity is named has mostly disappeared; the wants the Afar to abandon their traditional went from being a divorced single mom, scornedfloodplains of the Awash River are now a quilt of nomadic lifestyle, looks the other way, refusing to by her community, to being a leader within it.cotton fields and a tangle of prosofis bushes, which protect their own citizens from being massacred. Ten years ago, no one would talk to her; today,are poisonous to cows. As a result, many families Other threats to Afar culture and livelihood because of the help she gives to her people, shehave had to switch to herding goats. This transition have arisen in the form of dams, which in 2010 is highly respected. Of her son, Abdullah, who ishas been difficult, since goats give less milk than contributed to such massive flooding that entire now fourteen, she says, “I just want him to grow tocows and the animals fetch virtually nothing when Afar communities were forced to live up in trees serve his community.”
The Global Gathering To bring a diverse group of women pastoralist leadersof Women Pastoralists together and provide a platform to share experiences, learn from one another and unite for the survival of pastoralists everywhere Faces from the Global Gathering of Women Pastoralists T he idea of the Global Gathering of Women diverse group of women pastoralist leaders Pastoralists arose to ensure that women and provide a platform to share experiences, were adequately represented in relevant decision- learn from one another and unite for the survival making and policy fora. of pastoralists everywhere. The Gathering featured Proactively, MARAG, an Indian NGO dedicated to numerous in-depth, solution-focused discussions pastoralist policy, took on the task of organizing an of crucial issues, as well as cultural events, international meeting of pastoralist women. The skills sharing, and field visits to local pastoral Gathering took place in late November 2010, in a communities. The women left the Gathering rural setting in the Indian State of Gujarat, among feeling empowered as members of a growing traditional pastoralist grazing lands still used by global network and were energized to continue tribal cattle herders to this day. One of the main the valuable work that many of them are already goals of the Gathering was to bring together a doing in their home communities.
Pastoralist ProfileFatemah TalebiAbul Hasseni, Iran.F atemah Talebi is from the Abul Hasseni tribal they once were permitted to roam is now a national to find that other tribes in other places face even confederacy, which dwells in the central desert park, where grazing is forbidden. Other areas have greater struggles than hers does. Fatemah wantsof Iran. Her people practice seasonal migration, been taken over for industrial uses. The Abul to share with the world the valuable knowledgespending winters in lowland villages and summers Hasseni are struggling with their government for that her people have acquired from living on thein tent camps up in the mountains with their herds the right to access their traditional territories, but fringes of habitable terrain forever - primarily, theof sheep and goats. The most immediate problems they find themselves completely marginalized. sustainable use of ecological resources, but alsofacing the Abul Hasseni are land and water rights, the secrets to making 36 different types of dairy Fatemah came to the Gathering hoping that ifas well as a lack of economic opportunities. products from goats’ milk! women from pastoral communities around theWater is always a precious commodity in Iran’s world united with each other, that they might bedeserts, but for the last eight years, the Abul able to solve some of their collective problems. SheHasseni have suffered under severe drought. insists that pastoralists have the right to retainTraditionally in times like these they’ve had the their nomadic livelihoods - they need not get rich,right to range farther and wider than usual in but have enough to survive. At the Gathering, shesearch of water and pasture, but today they find found comfort in understanding that her peopletheir movements confined. Much of the terrain are not alone with their problems, and was stunned
Mera DeclarationWe the women pastoralists gathered in Mera, India, from November 21-26, 2010,representing 30 countries, have met to strengthenalliances and forward practical solutions to issuesthat affect us.We are part of a world-wide community of pastoralist peoples that is 300 millionstrong. We pledge to continue to live in a waythat is environmentally sustainable and protectsbiodiversity and common resources for generationsto come. We will continue to network and share ourbest practices and lessons learned to build capacityamongst ourselves and the global community.
We experience firsthand the leading edge of climate change and its associatedproblems, and we have much to share with theworld about adaptation, mitigation and livingsustainably on planet earth. Recently, pastoralistshave been increasingly vocal at the internationallevel but, as women, our voices have yet to befully heard. We have unique and equally valuablecontributions to make to our own communities andthe global community.We will work with men to build strong and equitable pastoralist societies and wewill contribute to greater social equality withinour families, our communities, our countries andaround the world.We present this declaration as a guiding political document to inform and supportthe development of pastoralist policies.
We call on governments, governing agencies MONITOR the development and implementation of of the United Nations, other relevant policies affecting and protecting pastoralists.international and regional organizations, research SUPPORT the development of an internationalinstitutes and our own customary leaders to organization in charge of considering complaintssupport us and to: about violations of pastoralist rights. ThisRECOGNISE the essential role of pastoralists in organization needs the ability to hold countriesglobal environmental sustainability, including the accountable and must include pastoralist women asconservation of biodiversity, mitigation of climate members.change and combating desertification. ADAPT existing legislation to take into accountENSURE the equal rights of pastoralist women and the specificities of pastoralist ways of liferecognize their key role in society. This includes the and differentiate nomadic and transhumantrecognition of the work of women pastoralists as a pastoralism from intensive livestock production.valid profession and as a fundamental component PROMOTE regional policies and treaties thatof pastoralism. take into account trans-border pastoralismRECOGNISE pastoralist mobility as a fundamental and respect traditional grazing territories andright. migratory patterns. These are to be negotiated in consultation with pastoralist women.ENSURE and defend pastoral access to resources,including our traditional grazing lands. DEVELOP specific policies that promote the sustainability and welfare of pastoral ways of lifePROTECT the rights of pastoralists and and the ecosystems we rely on for survival. Theprovide security in nomadic areas including the policy-making process must include meaningfulenforcement of laws that guarantee the safety of participation, and consultation, with pastoralistwomen. women.RECOGNISE pastoralists who identify as DEVELOP legislation that restricts developmentindigenous and respect the UN Declaration on that harms or threatens pastoralist livelihoods.Indigenous Rights.
WeALLOW year-round access to grazing lands, DEVELOP and implement programmes women pastoralists want our children,including some lands that are currently within that support women’s health in pastoralist and our children’s children, to have thewild life preserves and conservation areas. These communities. Information and training on health, tools and opportunities they need to adapt to thegrazing spaces are to be established in consultation particularly reproductive health, should be given realities and changing conditions of the modernwith pastoralist women. priority. world while retaining their traditional cultural legacies and lifestyles. CREATE and support programmes that promote the economic development and diversify economicPROMOTE and recognize Indigenous Community opportunities for pastoralist women, includingConservation Areas (ICCAs). micro-credit financing. These programmes must beENSURE proportionate representation of developed in consultation with pastoralist women.pastoralist women in all levels of governance. SUPPORT pastoralist women through capacityRESPECT the right of pastoralist women to building, including direct access to markets andeducation, both formal and informal, and including training to improve the quality and marketabilitysecondary education. Provide support to shift of their work and managerial skills.perceptions around the full educational needs of SUPPORT training programmes focused ongirls. leadership and communication to enable pastoralistDEVELOP accessible and appropriate programmes women to effectively participate in negotiations infor pastoralist children to access education. Special all issues affecting their ways of life.emphasis is to be given to pastoralist girl children. SUPPORT and fund research into new technologiesThese are to be developed in consultation with that further improve the efficiency and This is our right andpastoralist women. environmental sustainability of pastoralist ways it is by remaining pastoralistsDEVELOP mobile facilities that respect pastoralist of life. These technologies should be attuned to that we can be of greatestrealities and are in line with the needs of the needs and realities of pastoralism and shouldpastoralist women. take advantage of renewable and easily accessible service to the entire natural resources. human community.
Key Issues raisedat the Gathering• Markets • Social Movement • Top Priorities 1. How to sell products 1. Alliances 1. Representation 2. How to increase selling price and income 2. Advocacy 2. Communication and Networking 3. Financial control and decisions 3. Knowledge sharing 3. Education, Training and Capacity Building 4. Employment opportunity 4. Overcome cultural constraints 4. Advocacy• Rules and Rights 5. Link to indigenous knowledge 5. Development 1. Right to be mobile and grazing 6. Network and communication 2. Right to land • Education 3. Conflict: pastoralist versus sedentary 1. Pastoralist appropriate 4. Decision making and policies 2. Leadership development 5. Women rights 3. Managerial skills 6. Reform and utilize legal frameworks 4. Animal husbandry• Environment • Health 1. Climate change 1. Training and education directed at women and children 2. Water 2. Pastoralist content and 3. Access to resources appropriate delivery 4. Knowledge 3. Focus on girl children 5. Pastoralists provide environmental services
Outcomes from theGlobal Gathering of T he main outcome of the Gathering wasWomen Pastoralists the Mera Declaration, written by a representative and elected group of women and approved by the entire Gathering. Participants also developed and approved a global action plan and agreed to take all steps within their capacity to move the plan forward. F ollowing the meeting, a secretariat was formed to help coordinate the implementation of the action plan. Tasks have been delegated and networks are increasingly being strengthened using social media and other communication tools. F ocus has now turned to building and strengthening regional networks of women pastoralists. This global network, supported by these regional networks, will act as a voice for pastoralists at all levels, and especially in global governance. The network and related projects will continue working for the rights of girls and women within pastoral communities. Finally, every effort will be made ensure pastoralists are able to maintain their livelihoods, traditions and systems of knowledge while evolving economically and culturally in ways that are not only sustainable, but also beneficial for the future.
Conclusions T he Global Gathering of Women Pastoralists provided a forum for pastoralist women to come together, share experiences, problem solve and above all, connect to a global network of support and advocacy. Through the drafting and approval of the Mera Declaration and the Global Action Plan, once disparate groups, often working alone, are now united and are moving forward together. F ollowing the Gathering, there has been a great deal of energy and commitment to developing strong, sustainable regional networks to support and advance work on the ground, while moving ahead with the Global Action Plan and the development of a strong global network. There is no doubt that the pastoralist women who attended the Gathering will continue to play an active leadership roles in their communities, nations and globally, effectively mobilizing pastoralists around the world to navigate the urgent challenges they face in the twenty-first century.
CreditsMichael Benanav Jessica Duncan Luca Bendandiis a freelance photographer and is a PhD candidate at the Centre is a graphic designer andwriter known for immersing for Food Policy, in the School co-founder of SHS Publishing,in foreign cultures and of Community and Health an independent publishingbringing compelling images Sciences, City University, house dedicated to design,and stories back from distant London. Her research architecture, contemporaryplaces. He writes and shoots interests include global food culture and art.for The New York Times, security policy and publicLonely Planet, The Christian participation in policy making. In his paneuropean experienceScience Monitor Magazine, he worked in renown studiosand Geographical Magazine She also teaches in the such as Raison Pure/France,(photos only), among others. Master’s programme in Food, Estudio Mariscal/Spain, Society and International Food Studio 46XY/Italy, VincentHe’s also the author of two Governance in the Department de Rijk Werkplaat/Hollandhighly praised books: Men Of of Food Systems, Culture and producing a different rangeSalt: Crossing the Sahara on Society at the Universitat of printed matter fromthe Caravan of White Gold; and Oberta de Catalonia (UOC) and magazines, to books andJoshua & Isadora: A True Tale of volunteers for MARAG and logotypes and catalogs.Loss and Love in the Holocaust. the Global Network of Women Pastoralists. She has worked He teachs Basic TypographyHis photos have been used in community capacity building, and Magazine Design atby NGOs including The rural development and with IED- Istituto Europeo diUnited Nations Foundation, various food and agriculture Design in Barcelona.The International Fund for organizations to support foodAgricultural Development security and food sovereignty He spends his spare time(IFAD), Save Tibet, MARAG/ initiatives in Canada, the UK taking pictures and practicingIndia, Society for Preservation and Spain. She has published and enjoying culinary arts.of Himalayan Indigenous on participation in globalActivities/India, The Swallows/ agri-food governance and More of his work atSweden, Sustainable Cotton on the politics of food. www.shspublishing.comProject, and more. When not working on foodTo see more of his work, policy as a student, teachervisit his website at or consultant, she is likelywww.michaelbenanav.com to be cooking, practicing yoga, climbing rocks or exploring new places.