Mundemba Declaration: Women and the expansion of oil palm plantations and industrial palm oil
Women resist industrial palm oil (Photo: JVE-Cameroun)
Considering that the aspiration to human dignity is a common ideal for humankind, and that the United Nations Charter asserts this aspiration in its preamble and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
Considering the key role women play in the global economy, a role also recognized by the Millennium Development Goals;
Considering the role that women play in the local economies of each country in the region;
Considering the pivotal role that women play in maintaining their families, which is at the heart of our societies;
Aware of the fact that women are always at the forefront of the struggle against poverty, through their many interventions, especially in the field of agriculture;
We, leaders of groups of women affected by the expansion of industrial monoculture plantations, particularly oil palm plantations;
We, national and international organizations involved in the struggle for the rights of women and local communities in Africa, Latin America and Asia, signatories of this declaration, met from 27 to 28 January 2016 in Mundemba, south-western Cameroon;
– shared testimonies of the painful daily struggle of women living in and around oil palm plantations and analysed the impact on women and families of the rapid, brutal expansion of monocultures promoted by multinationals in different communities and countries;
– considered the numerous social, economic, environmental, cultural and culinary advantages of traditional palm oil; and
– exchanged strategies and solutions that women who have become victims of land grabs, particularly for the expansion of industrial oil palm plantations, have put in place to defend their interests.
Having found that:
– Monoculture plantations, particularly oil palm plantations:
– trap women living in and around such plantations in a system of growing impoverishment that affects the whole family;
* rob women of fertile agricultural lands once used for family agriculture through which women fed the family and the entire community; this threatens the food security and sovereignty of populations in and around these industrial plantations; these plantations are causing the disappearance of many agricultural and cultural practices thereby contributing to the disappearance of many traditional crafts and skills, causing entire communities to become dependent on consumerism due to the loss of autonomy in food production;
* cannot feed families in the way that women’s family farming does;
* are a threat to the conservation of biodiversity and contribute to the loss of non-timber forest products, which are an important source of income for women, because they cause massive and rampant deforestation, thus also worsening global warming and climate change;
* lead to the disappearance of traditional oil palm cultivation, the traditional, medicinal, nutritional and cultural virtues of which are valued by women for their contribution to the wellbeing of the family and society as a whole;
– The creation of land policies and the transfer of land are often carried out without real involvement of the women who are affected; and
– Plantations of oil palm trees can never replace a forest.
We reaffirm our commitment to invest in:
– investigate and document cases of abuse and assaults experienced by women living around and in large-scale industrial plantations, particularly oil palm plantations, and to widely distribute this documentation;
– establish a platform for action and exchange among women engaged in the struggle for the defence of their interests that are threatened by tree monocultures and particularly oil palm plantations;
– establish a multi-stakeholder platform (private sector, local communities and NGOs) with the participation of women leaders;
explore the creation of a support fund for women in and around the agro-industrial plantations who have become victims of abuse;
– support the development of economic alternatives for affected women;
– engage in advocacy for the greater involvement of women in decision-making on land rights issues and land sales;
– promote traditional oil palm cultivation;
– create a women’s observatory focused on the large-scale transfer of land and the impact of monoculture plantations on family farming;
– strengthen the capacity of women to better defend their interests and give them the tools to resist the many forms of abuse caused by large-scale agro-industry; and
– support studies that explore legal frameworks and advocacy for influencing legislative and regulatory reforms in related sectors.
To public authorities
– make the problems associated with the expansion of industrial oil palm plantations a national priority;
– create multi-sector policies adapted to the situation of rural women affected by the expansion of industrial oil palm; and
– enact legislative and regulatory reforms (that strengthen women’s rights) related to the expansion of industrial oil palm.
To donors and technical partners
– provide support in various forms to actions that strengthen women’s struggle against the expansion of industrial oil palm;
– take every opportunity in their co-operation with public authorities to raise the issue of the detrimental impacts of the expansion of industrial oil palm plantations; and
– support women’s initiatives to promote the cultivation of traditional oil palm and the use of traditional palm oil and other products in order to strengthen rural livelihoods.
To local and international NGOs
– take up and join women’s struggle against the expansion of industrial oil palm plantations;
– advocate for clear, effective and appropriate solutions to the problem of expanding industrial oil palm plantations and make this a national priority; and
– strengthen the capacity of women so that they may be better equipped for the struggle against the expansion of industrial oil palm.
– take the lead in the struggle against the expansion of the industrial palm oil industry;
– organise associations and networks in order to be stronger; and
– denounce any violation of rights caused by the expansion of the industrial palm oil industry.
Mundemba, Cameroon, 28 January 2016
Signed, the following participating organisations:
RELUFA, Yaoundé, Cameroon
BACUDA, Kribi, Cameroon
Bread for all, Switzerland
Green Development Advocates–Cameroon
Struggle to Economize Future Environment–SEFE, Cameroon
Social Centre, Mundemba, Cameroon
Buéa University, Cameroon
World Rainforest Movement (WRM)
Alliance Dame Active de Batschenga (DABA)