Recent Food Studies alumna, Haley Zaremba, virtually joined the FS 501 course on Food, Environment, and Society to present her recently published co-authored work, Toward a Feminist Agroecology. A gender researcher at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, Zaremba not only demonstrated a potential post-graduate pathway for employment but also intelligently synthesized many relevant concepts around sustainable agriculture, as well as gender and social inclusion.

Zaremba argued that agroecology must be inherently and intentionally feminist to fully embody the principles of equality and justice, as well as the celebration of indigenous knowledge, that serve as the cornerstones of this philosophy. Women’s role is central in food production—on any scale—given their unique knowledge base and diversified labor capacity, which includes work both in and out of the household. Gendered exclusions in agroecology may indeed weaken the core values of the movement.   

The co-authored paper pulled on the thirteen principles of agroecology as delineated by the High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security by introducing a feminist perspective to their points. Amongst these indicators, Zaremba emphasized three central obstacles to women's inclusion in agroecology: the undervaluation of their knowledge and experience; land insecurity and barriers to access; and the status of unpaid female labor, rendering it essentially “invisible.” Addressing these challenges would require deep reflection and analysis on why gendered structures remain so pervasive.

Zaremba broke down the thirteen principles into three main categories, split between intents to improve resource efficiency, to strengthen resilience, and to achieve social equity and responsibility. Across the board, women find themselves sidelined in all agricultural processes, consigned to traditional roles around caretaking or financially marginalized, with limited access to credits or land ownership. Social structures prevent their full participation in agriculture and their ability to fulfill these capacities. 

A full transformation of the system will require the complete inclusion of women's participation, with equal value attributed to their knowledge and capacity in agricultural pursuits. The lecture functioned as a timely and inspirational piece for students seeking to apply these theoretical concepts to the working world.

----Report by Michaela Colangelo, Graduate Student Assistant
--- Photo Credit: CGIAR Gender Platform