A New Day for Women Farmworkers

Marchers celebrate International Women's Day with powerful reflections on women and 15 more miles!

In the early morning chill of Day Six, and then again during a sun-dappled midday pause for lunch under live oaks and spanish moss in a park along the route, marchers gathered on International Women's Day to reflect on the women in their lives -- on women in the fields, on the women marching beside them, and on the women who have guided them to this moment in their lives.

The day was a celebration of the role of women in the fight to expand and protect human rights, from start to finish. The march was fueled along the way by a high-spirited soundtrack of female artists, and animation from the sound truck leading the march was led by everyone from the CIW's extraordinary Lupe Gonzalo to very our youngest marchers, Luna and Emma. The video above, which gives a glimpse into the celebrations through the day (to the original music of one of our musician marchers!), speaks for itself.

The intersection of International Women's Day with the march and the Fair Food Program at the heart of the march was by no means lost on the rest of the world. Check out the press page for a full media round-up with all the latest march press, but for now we would direct your attention to one piece in particular, excerpted here below, which truly stands out and should be shared far and wide:

March Marching for Fair Food
(Ms. Magazine, March 8)

With its emphasis on human rights and social responsibility in the produce industry, the march is another leg of the longer journey to eradicate poverty wages, sexual harassment and abuse, and in extreme case, modern-day slavery in the produce supply chain of our food system. [...]

While the Florida march, entitled "Derechos, Respeto y Comida Justa" (Rights, Respect and Fair Food), is not only about women and girls, the focus on human rights and the ability to work freely with dignity and respect are longstanding feminist goals. And the march celebrates the significant partnership among farmworkers, Florida tomato growers and major food corporations (such as McDonalds, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Burger King) that has been made possible by the Fair Food Program (FFP).

And, as always, we have two great short-form videos, or as we like to call them, "Video Snapshots" that we've included here below that captures the march's entry into Sarasota, where it will spend the weekend with an agenda jam packed with action! The Sarasota Herald Tribune was there reporting on our arrival, and today's local paper ran a wonderful piece that doubles as an invitation to Sarasotans everywhere to join us for the weekend's actions. It begins:

VENICE - Lupe Gonzalo remembers the first call. It was from a woman who had been forced to overfill the 32-pound bucket of tomatoes. The heavy fruit heaped above the bucket's brim, but the added work did not mean more money for the worker struggling to make minimum wage in Florida's fields.

The woman had called the Coalition of Immokalee Workers for help and Gonzalo, 31, answered.

It was shortly after November 2011, when the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange — which represents 90 percent of the state's tomato farm owners — agreed to follow the Fair Food Code of Conduct.

Gonzalo knew, for the first time, that the woman would not have to suffer long.

"For us, it was really beautiful that the rights were there to respect, and we can use them," she said through a translator Friday.

Gonzalo is one of about 100 people marching along U.S. 41 from Fort Myers to Lakeland. The group is celebrating the rights farmworkers secured. They are also protesting Publix.