A better world is possible



This episode analyses the myth of Gea, Goddess of the earth, and the fundamental role women have historically played in rural life. Their great difficulties in terms of access to land ownership and natural resources. We will hear the story of Emily, a Spanish farmer who, about to reach 100 years of age, reminisces about her life...



Voice over:

In the beginning there was no Earth, just a place of Darkness, a perpetual void ruled by Chaos, an obscure divinity. And from the Chaos emerged Gea, eternal and unyielding source of all things, Goddess of the Earth. Gea represents the feminine aspect of the cosmos and the fertility of life.

We women are the natural heirs of the myth of Gea. Our civilisation rests on the traditions that neolithic communities added to human knowledge. In those remote times the first farmers were women.

Emilia Remán Redondo - farm labourer (village of Somaén, Soria):

-I worked in the small village of Linares, in Soria, as a farm labourer.

-A farm labourer.

-And I've worked as a farm labourer all my life, full time until I was 22, when I got married.

-And what did you do as a farm labourer?

-Watering, digging, ploughing, planting...

-But that was hard work, wasn't it Emilia?

-Yes, a man's job, but I did it myself.

-And how many hours a day did you work?

-Oh, gosh, back then there weren't any hours. Not like today where everything is in hours. Back then there were no hours, child. Often we worked from sunrise to sunset.

-And were there many women working in the fields back then or were you an exception?

-Well, they would do some things, carrying, unloading, things like that. But like me, not one. I only went without bread for one day because I went to the town of Velilla and couldn't find any bread. So, being the way I am, I told my father: starting tomorrow I'm taking over the yoke. What you give the hired hand to eat will be for me. What you pay the hired hand for me, too. So at 13 I took over the yoke until I got married at 22. Farm labourer.

Where I grew up it wasn't a place for schooling. I got out of there one month shy of eight years old and that was it. In those times you lived life in ignorance. They would say things like somebody dies and then they resuscitate. Now they say a lot of things but resuscitation, no way.

My life has always been work, you see how old I am, and I don't mind work, any work.

Voice over:

Women initiated the harvesting of fruit and vegetables and from there extracted the first seeds which started the process of planting and harvesting. The cycle of life itself.


My father taught me how to plough and sow; my mother also knew how, but I learnt mostly from watching my father. I almost always used to go to the fields with my father. And then he was always ill so I took up his work myself.

Last year I didn't plant anything, or this year either. I've been ill since October eighth of last year with eye problems, and I haven't been able to plant anything.

Silvia Ribeiro - ETRC Group researcher, Mexico (Hilton Hotel, Caracas, Venezuela):

Because "terminator" is a fundamentally anti-farmer technology. But it doesn't only affect farmers, it affects everyone. What they want is not only the biological control of the seed when it is in the field, but that when it is planted there be cross-pollination with surrounding crops which in turn die out. So it is not only a suicidal seed, it is a homicidal seed.

Regina Salgado - indigenous Bolivian (World Social Forum, Caracas, Venezuela):

Our food is very limited. We eat quinua, potatoes and barley. That's all we've got in the fields.

Silvia Ribeiro:

It's as our colleague Francisca Rodríguez of Via Campesina of Chile said. Yesterday, when she heard that the moratorium on terminator had been broken, she said: they used to sterilize women, and now it's the same. They sterilize seeds which is what peasant women have been giving the world for the last 10 thousand years and which is the basis for food for everyone.

Felicidad Coria de Mendoza - indigenous Bolivian (World Social Forum, Caracas, Venezuela):

Now are products are going to be appreciated... We plant the fields and we live on the farms with our livestock, our crops and our clothing. That we are going to recover for ourselves, our indigenous rights, our own products, our own livestock, our garments. We are going to recover all of this.

Voice over:

With the arrival of agriculture women introduced a new social and cultural dimension to existence. Food and the culture of food. Women are the main producers of food and the ones who create the alchemy of cookery.

Rigoberta Díaz de Herrera - cooperativist (Tiani Cooperative, Miranda, Venezuela):

It hasn't been easy putting together a co-operative, and it hasn't been easy holding the group of people we are together working as co-operativists, and at the same time we are teachers teaching co-operation because while we are working we are also teaching. As I told you we are 127 people, but among the 127 there are those who like to go their own individual way... but luckily as you work and teach people are learning and understanding. So you learn and you teach someone else and we carry on.

Lesbia Solórzano - CANEZ leader (Pontificia Catholic University, Porto Alegre, Brazil):

Our love of the field is practically planting, bringing all that we produce to society. Without us there is no agrarian reform, there is no food sovereignty. There wouldn't be anything.

Carmen Múñoz Vidal -  SOC Marinaleda (College of History and Geography, Santiago de Compostela, Spain):

Imagine. It's like the roots of a tree. Food sovereignty is the roots of the tree. If this doesn't exist, the community can't sustain itself. They is no life, subsistence is impossible. It's impossible, do you know what I'm saying? This is what we don't realize... no, we don't realize it. People don't realize how important this is.

Elida María Galeano - ARNIG national president (Pontificia Catholic University, Porto Alegre, Brazil):

It is we women who have contributed the most, because women carry the heaviest burdens at home, they are the ones who cultivate, who care for the land, who try not to have to sell it, who bring food home.

Paola Termine - FAO Sustainable Development official:

Yes, I do believe it is fundamental to recognise that in agriculture, the majority of farmers and peasants are women.

Julia Ramos Sánchez - Chamber of Deputies Vice-president, Bolivia (National Assembly, Caracas, Venezuela):

My parents are farmers, my mother is a peasant which is how I dress. I still dress this way given my culture, my identity. From there I've been progressing as women since I was very young. My personal goal is that woman be involved in all decision making too, because we are mothers, we care when a child cries, when our children must leave home and migrate, and things don't work out.

Mixtalia Pérez - CANEZ leader (Hilton Hotel, Caracas, Venezuela):

Hello, my name is Mixtalia Perez. I'm the permanent councillor for the farming, indigenous and fishing women of Venezuela, affiliated with CANEZ. At the moment, we women are in the process of organising ourselves in rural farming areas. We are preparing workshops so that rural women abandon their state of ignorance of the last 40 years. Now, we women are preparing to voice that which we have a right to.


Now we women are also filling certain posts, such as senators, deputies, judges. Now in almost every aspect we are advancing, one step at a time in Bolivia.


The women's organisation Bartolina Sisa of the Tarija department forwarded my candidacy, and now I'm a member of parliament, and I am the first vice-president of the Chamber of Deputies. It's the first time in history that a woman has this job, and from there I hope to fulfil the mandate of the Bolivian people, and especially of women, who should be present in all of this journey.


It's time that we take on protagonism in politics as well as in social and economic areas, so that we can give our children the best, the best education and the best organisation.

Ganapati (World Social Forum, Caracas, Venezuela):

One's always got to be working, always working, here, there, back and forth.


And also, to make people look ahead, at least for our children, for our grandchildren. We have suffered, we have seen times of hunger, so at least now our children shouldn't, shouldn't have to suffer.

Voice over:

In our times, the worship of women and the earth which our ancestors wisely venerated has been inverted into a perverse and destructive process where women from rural lands suffer from discrimination, exploitation and violence.


In terms of gender, of the original indigenous woman, it is discrimination. It has been discrimination. We were discriminated against under the past governments...


Well, women... I'll speak for Andalusia, my surroundings, my place, the place where I live, right? The forgotten ones are the day labourers. I'm a day labourer, right? And day labourers as such are the... last of the last in the rural world. And even worse are women day labourers. Women day labourers are the great forgotten.


The female peasant is, as always, marginalised. We weren't given any importance in the peace agreements. In no country where women have been involved in arm conflict have they been given importance, let alone when it comes to land ownership.


We are the great forgotten. We are totally and absolutely discriminated against. They are provinces like Jaen, where until a few years ago, women were paid less than men. For doing the same work. It's incredible. But it happens, right?


We've always been humiliated, looked down upon, as women, as indigenous people, in all countries.

Voice over:

It is estimated that in Africa, women carry out over 80% of the tasks involved in food production. In Asia this percentage is 60%, and in South America around 40%.

Ministry of agriculture delegate, Mozambique (Pontificia Catholic University, Porto Alegre, Brazil):

We've got the problem of subsistence farming, a barely manual agriculture without any techniques or technology to be able to improve food subsistence. So this is more or less the factor we are dealing with, but equality towards land, the rights of use of land, the law states that it is the same for men and for women.


That caused the war in Nicaragua. Because they touched the most sacred thing, which is land. A man without land is a man without a country.

Ministry of agriculture delegate, Mozambique:

Since the agrarian reform of 1995, the government of Mozambique has been working in this area. Agricultural policies were designed in 1995. The new agrarian reform laws were approved in 1997 and the agriculture development programme called PROARG was approved in 1999. This programme aims to overhaul subsistence farming and commercial farming and to place Mozambique on the path of development through farming. Because agriculture is the basis for survival and subsistence in Mozambique.


We are representing the gender commission of women of Conomac and we need a lot of... many to help us or to train us in terms of the original indigenous woman.

Voice over:

However, for women in many countries, the legitimate access to ownership of land and natural resources, as well as technological knowledge, is hampered. Together with the fact that women account for two thirds of worldwide illiteracy, a dignified life for them and their children is a remote possibility indeed.

Isabel Mártinez, CANEZ leader - Hilton Hotel, Caracas, Venezuela:

The Venezuelan woman is taking on a larger role every day in Venezuelan farming, for the fight and democratisation of land. Article 14 of our Law Concerning Land states that all mothers have a right to a plot of land which can be included as a production source and with access to credit from the state.


Currently 80% of the population is simply at the mercy of big landowners. All we want to tell the president is no to negotiation, we don't want to negotiate with big landowners because the only negotiation they have granted us is the killing of peasants, the blood we peasants have spilt. The cause we are fighting for is until the end, we going to push, we're going to push, we're going to push...


They say Venezuela is a free and sovereign country. When this actually happens and big landownership in Venezuela dies, men as well as women will be truly free.


We say the same thing. We will either end big landownership or we will die trying.

Voice over:

In the fight for land and access to natural resources which are surging around the world, many women are at the head of rural activist groups. Especially in Latin America, where in the significant political changes now occurring, institutional channels are being created for women to voice their demands for basic human rights.


We want to set up a model which is at the service of all, where we have opportunities, equal rights and equal access to participation in order to guarantee a life of dignity for all so that it cannot be that some live well, eat well, enjoy well, while the majority are asking for charity in the street.

Voice over:

Women are the main victims of violence in the countryside. Often they are victims of discrimination in the labour market and in healthcare. Domestic violence, rape, murder and slavery are unacceptable forms of violence and must be denounced, investigated and condemned.


They made us take up arms and go to the mountains...


And last week, for the first time, a woman was murdered in the field, on her land...


And they don't respect us, they even take our lives, many brothers have died, for example, in the war over gas many comrades died, and not only in those movements but also in the fight for land, in the demand for rights...

Marina Silva - Minister of the Environment, Brazil

Violence is a historic product of the taking of land and natural resources in our country. Just to give you an idea, land ownership records have not been updated in over 30 years... Over 30 years.

Leta Gomes Cavalcanti - widow of Evandro Cavalcanti (FETAG, Porto Alegre, Brazil):

He was the victim of an ambush. We left the house with our youngest daughter. When we arrived at the main avenue of the city, the gunman who was waiting at a corner started firing from behind at his legs. He fell and our daughter, who was in front of him, was wounded by bullet shards. After an investigation, the three executioners were identified.


They are issues which should be dealt with more strongly, because the killing of peasants, the abuse of peasants, the violation of peasants' rights are real and are happening now.


Currently in Nicaragua violence against women is... there have been cases where even children have murdered their mothers.., the rape of young girls... there's a 12 year old girl who's going to have a baby conceived in rape...


The killers were tried and condemned but not the organisers and what we see is that this kind of impunity is unacceptable.

Marina Silva (Pontificia Catholic University, Porto Alegre, Brazil):

We want to work with society and we understand that control and participation of society is fundamental. The people should implement and criticise and correct the policies which with much humility we are doing. It is a tribute to God above us and to all the suffering of those here and those who cannot be here, they too are above us and from there inspire us to carry on our work. Thank you very much.


-Have you been happy here?

-Well yes, because I've lived very happily with my husband and everything I've done has been a lot of work, and I've done it happily, yes. Then I have three daughters, healthy and good. On the economic side, people live well now, there's more. But we used to be happier with 5 pence than if we have a million today because we used to live very well, a quiet life. There wasn't the envy of today, grudges, wishing misfortune, all because of envy, that some have more, that others have less...

Voice over:

Gea is the supreme Goddess, mother of all Gods, of all which is born from, and nurtured by, the earth, and of mankind to which she gives sustenance, shelter and soul.


There isn't the love that there used to be... but what are you going to do? That's the way life is now and you have to carry on.

Voice over:

May it be your will, of wind and earth,

That your loving arms never tire,

That your life-force has the yearning

Of a hundred rivers, of the Great Sea, of the open sky,

That the reach of your protection, strong and wise,

Reveals the many paths of destiny.

May your laughter be eternal,

May your gaze beget balm and healing,

And horizons of peace

And new creeds.

Upon you is projected hope,

As eternity embellishes you,




I think we cannot lose hope, all the contrary, right? and we have to continue... I think this is a struggle, right, and we have to keep fighting for equality, and... and for our role, our role in this society, our role for equality.


What exists on the mother earth should be used in accordance with our needs, for the common good, and should be preserved for the future for our children.


I'd like to have a world in peace and to have everything full of joy.


Direction and Screenplay – Sonia Llera

Direction of content – Vincent Garcés

Executive production – Paco Rodríguez, Manolo Rodríguez, Sergio Escribano

Photography and camera – Sonia Llera

Editing – Raquel Jimenez

Live Music – Misa de los Trópicos de Juan Carlos, Orquesta Sinfónica de Maracay

Original music and musician – Miguel Anda

Singing – Mónica Ibañez

Accordion  – Jorge Lema

Poem “Gea” – Gabriel Sopeña

Narration – (nombre de la locutora Inglesa)

Graphics and Headings – Jesus de Matos, Marcela Pelegrin

“Etalonaje” ?  - Miguel Tejerina

Sound and mixing – Jose Luis Canalejo

Production direction – Cruz Ortega

Production aid – Eva Nistal, Toñi Rodríguez

Special thanks – Brigada Turística de Barlovento (Venezuela), Tiani Cooperative Estado de Miranda (Venezuela)

Special collaboration (in order of appearance) – Emilia Remán Redondo, Silvia Ribeiro, Regina Salgado, Felicidad Coria de Mendoza, Rigoberta Díaz de Herrera, Lesbia Solórzano, Carmen Muñoz Vidal, Elida María Galeano, Paola Termine, Julia Ramos Sánchez, Mixtalea Pérez, Ganapati Mercado Roa, Delegate from Mozambique, Isabel Martínez, Marina Silva, Leta Gomes Cavalcanti


GEA. the mother Goddess