top of page

Women farmers: Seeds of change for sustainable communities

Women farmers: Seeds of change for sustainable communities
Women farmers: Seeds of change for sustainable communities

In a small yet profoundly impactful movement, women farmers in South Korea have risen to become key players in the nation’s agricultural landscape. Forming the National Federation of Women Farmers Associations (Jeon Yeo-nong) on December 18, 1989, these women declared their rightful place as proud participants in agricultural production, moving beyond the traditional labels of farm housewives or rural women.

The transformation of female farmers

These women, once considered unpaid domestic workers, rural housewives, or simply someone's mothers, have shed these limiting roles to assert themselves as vital contributors to agriculture. They have emerged as proud subjects of agricultural production, protecting and advancing agriculture from the local level to the national stage. Jeon Yeo-nong has been pivotal in this transformation, working to improve the legal status of women farmers, guarantee their rights, and foster an alternative society.

Jeon Yeo-nong’s initiatives and achievements

Jeon Yeo-nong’s initiatives encompass a wide range of activities aimed at ensuring food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture. They have been instrumental in realizing school meals, implementing a multiple member system of agricultural cooperatives, enacting the Women Farmers Promotion Act, and leading struggles against neoliberalism. Their work also includes peaceful unification activities, international solidarity efforts against neoliberalism and patriarchy, the formation of the Women Farmers’ Parliamentary Group, and the protection of native seeds.

One of their notable projects, "Unnie’s Garden," serves as a model alternative community, emphasizing environmentally friendly practices and fostering closer ties between rural and urban areas. This initiative allows urban consumers to receive safe, healthy food while providing economic compensation to the female farmers who produce it.

Jeon Yeo-nong’s dedication to sustainable agriculture was internationally recognized in 2012 when they were awarded the World Food Sovereignty Prize. This award celebrates innovative organizations working towards the right to food and dignity for all food producers globally. The recognition highlighted Jeon Yeo-nong’s significant contributions to food sovereignty and their fight against hunger and poverty.

The efforts of Jeon Yeo-nong align closely with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11, which aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. By fostering sustainable agriculture and strengthening the connection between rural producers and urban consumers, Jeon Yeo-nong contributes to creating sustainable communities. Their work ensures that urban populations have access to healthy, locally produced food while supporting rural economies and preserving agricultural traditions.

Moreover, Jeon Yeo-nong’s initiatives to protect native seeds and promote food sovereignty are crucial for maintaining biodiversity and resilience in the face of global agricultural challenges. By advocating for policies that support sustainable farming practices and the rights of women farmers, they are building a foundation for more sustainable and resilient communities.

A vision for the future

The vision of Jeon Yeo-nong is one where agriculture and farmers continue to thrive in Korea despite the pressures of global competition. They believe in the power of community and the importance of sustainable practices to ensure that agriculture remains a vital part of the nation’s future. Their initiatives not only support the livelihoods of female farmers but also contribute to the well-being of urban consumers, creating a mutually beneficial relationship that strengthens the fabric of society.

Women farmers like those in Jeon Yeo-nong are indeed the seeds of change, sowing hope and resilience for a more sustainable and inclusive future. Their journey from being overlooked as mere rural women to becoming champions of sustainable agriculture and community resilience is an inspiring testament to the power of collective action and the potential for transformative change in society.

More information:


bottom of page