They are Mexican, young and represent the Slow Food Indigenous Peoples’ Network. In the past days, accompanied by Dalì Nolasco Cruz, Nahua woman, and member of the Slow Food Board, Elvia Villani Catalan from the from the Slow Food Community Guardians of Edible Forests Coffee growers in the mountains of Guerrero, Maria Daniela Tun Caamal from the Slow Food Community Guardians of the bald pig in Tixcacalcupul, Arsenio Tun Caamal Slow Food Community Guardians of Yucatecan Foods and Adelaida Bolom Gomez from the Slow Food community Kanan Lum Antsetik, had finished their advocacy training organized with the support of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, NDN collective and IFAD with a special visit to Rome to make direct experience of what they learnt about the global food governance and the Rome-based UN food agencies. These four Mexican indigenous activists were selected among the 25 that participated in a two-year training aimed at providing the participants with the necessary tools to understand and activate advocacy processes, whether in their territories, nationally or internationally.
This training on advocacy took place over the first half of 2023 as a continuation of their participation in the 2022 “Diplomado en “Liderazgo de guardianas y guardianes de sistemas alimentarios de México”. In this course, indigenous experts on topics such as Agroecology, Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, Gender Equality, among others, shared their knowledge and experiences with 25 indigenous youth leaders, reinforcing their capacities to continue defending and protecting their communities’ food systems and heritage.
They participated to the Forum of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSIPM) – the largest international space of civil society organizations working to eradicate food insecurity and malnutrition – to learn how they coordinate to give joint policy response to the processes within the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which is the foremost inclusive intergovernmental and international political platform on food security and nutrition with the explicit vision to foster the progressive realization of the right to adequate food for all. Then they participated in the CFS 51 Plenary to see how the members states interact and debate with the civil society and private sector and how they reach the agreement on the issues on the agenda, one of the most critical being the Voluntary guidelines on gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment in the context of food security and nutrition.
Finally they met representatives of FAO and IFAD to share their experiences with a focus on the adoption of agroecological practices, such as the production of coffee while protecting the woods or the the creation of community gardens, the valorisation of traditional gastronomy and women empowerment and to understand the functioning of these organizations and the challenges they are currently facing.
“We strongly believe in the role of young Indigenous Peoples in advocating for a better future and for changing the current food system”, commented Dali Nolasco Cruz. “In order for them to take part in local political processes, it is fundamental they experience and get to know how international civil society meetings work. In this way they can be Slow Food future leaders in their territories”.
Elvia Villani Catalan echoed her, stressing how “agroecological practices, at the center of the international debates we heard about here in Rome, constitute our daily life once home, as every day we put them into practice while growing our food, taking care of our land and our biodiversity”.
Turning the spotlight to the role of women, Adelaida Bolom Gomez concluded by saying that in the meetings they had with FAO and IFAD representatives “the need for the engagement of young people in enhancing the role of women in food production, which is often not sufficiently highlighted, has emerged strongly”.
Let’s meet the participants!
Adelaida Bolom Gomez
Adelaida is a Tseltal and Tsotsil woman from Nueva Palestina, in the state of Chiapas, where she has been a part of community activities throughout her life, focusing on developing and working with food gardens. She joined the Slow Food Indigenous Peoples’ Network with changing the issue of women’s access to land in her community, and now she started to set up and grow a women-led agroecological garden with other women from her community.
Elvia Villani Catalán
Elvia is an Me´phaa woman and agronomist working with coffee from the Ojo de Agua community in Malinaltepec, in the state of Guerrero. She has worked to promote the production of coffee in the agroforestry system since 2016. The Slow Food Community and cooperative she works with are part of the Slow Food Coffee Coalition, and she keeps working to make sure that the production of quality coffee is paired with caring for the forests where many of her community’s traditional foods, like “quelites” come from.
María Daniela Tun Caamal
Daniela, a Maya woman from Tixcacalcupul in the state of Yucatán. From a young age she has worked in community projects and participated in the implementation of programs for the sustainability of food systems in her communities. She is developing a project where her community will have the possibilities to raise the Slow Food Presidium Yucatán Hairless Pig in a forest pasture system, ensuring the preservation of this breed, and the foods that are prepared with it.
Arsenio Tun Caamal
Arsenio is a Maya representative from Tixcacalcupul in the state of Yucatán. Alongside his sister María Daniela, he has been an active participant in community projects, focusing on the preservation of Maya recipes and food heritage. He is currently working in a project with 8 women and 15 men from his community to preserve traditional recipes, and reaching out to schools to help educate the youth on the importance of their gastronomic heritage, which is being lost because of the community’s youth migrating, and the loss of intergenerational exchanges.