Mercedes Diane Griffin Forbes strives to support sustainable development by empowering women in agriculture through her foundation and consultancy work.
According to Forbes, women really produce a significant portion of the world’s food. However, she says, this labor is frequently overlooked.
In order to highlight the contributions made by women in agriculture and assist communities in formalizing gender equality legislation, Forbes works with them on a global scale.
According to Forbes, “I’m in Ecuador, where many of the women labor in the coffee plantations with machetes and do the weeding by hand. That is highly difficult and maybe hazardous.However, if I ask residents of the towns I live in what labor they believe to be the most crucial or dangerous, they frequently respond, “The tasks that men do.'”
Communities are not, in the opinion of Forbes, “conscientiously operating from a perspective of not valuing women.” She believes that the differences are instead “based on a lot of deep, cultural, traditional practices.”
According to Forbes, who works to promote a change in perspective, “when they are given the opportunity to really think through, they’re like ‘yes, of course we’re all equal.'” We must all show respect to one another.
The gender mainstreaming trainings that Forbes also offers, according to her, are aimed at “making sure that you are making the necessary accommodations within your organizational structure to ensure gender equity.”
In Ecuador, Forbes spent time with cocoa producers and collaborated with the neighborhood to create a gender policy for its bylaws. She notes that although there was already a policy in place to guarantee the representation of Indigenous peoples, there was no specific advice for women. As Forbes tells Food Tank, “it’s important to formalize this and develop practices around this formalization.”
Forbes works to empower women through the Mercedes Parra Foundation for Women and Girls in addition to her consultancy career. Forbes describes it as “a small organization,” but adds, “but we really try to focus on areas where we feel we can have the greatest impact, so primarily dealing with women and girls who are in resource poor areas, helping them to have a better economic education and political outcomes.”
In order for two women in North Carolina to run for leadership roles, Forbes has recently begun collaborating with them. “So many women, particularly women of color, don’t even consider running for office,” the speaker claims. “They simply assume it to be something that is beyond of their reach. And I believe that a lack of mentorship is a major contributing factor.
In addition, Forbes says she helps these women “overcome some of the psychological hurdles they may be facing and really help them to hone the skills they have, and help them to see why it is that they do have a voice and how they can use that voice to promote change.”
You can learn more about Forbes’ consulting work with female agriculturalists, the significance of gender-appropriate technologies, and how Forbes uses her platform DG Speaks to share her story and serve as an inspiration to others by listening to the entire interview with Mercedes Diane Griffin Forbes on “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg”
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