Seventh Marcha das Margaridas
With Sue Longley

Renewed commitment

I first met Sue Longley at the Fourteenth Regional Conference of the IUF, held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in 2011. Back then, Sue was the IUF’s International Coordinator for Agriculture and Plantations. My English was rusty and she was just learning Spanish, but we had no trouble communicating and hit it off immediately, or as we say around here: “hicimos buenas migas.”

Amalia Antúnez

24 | 08 | 2023

Sue Longley, IUF; Laura Díaz, STIHMPRA; and Rosecleia Castro, SITAC | Photo credit: Amalia Antúnez

In 2017, when Sue was elected General Secretary of the IUF she became the first woman to hold that position. I met up with her again last May, at the Sixteenth Regional Conference, in São Paulo, and now in Brasilia, where we both went to participate in the Seventh Marcha das Margaridas.

When I see her, I joke about how we went for more than a decade without seeing each other only to meet up again twice in the space of three months.

Before the march, we get together for an informal chat with the other women who are participating in representation of the IUF Latin American Women’s Committee (Clamu) and their unions.

Everyone there remarks on how down-to-earth Sue is, in the way she talks and interacts with others. Among us, she is just one of us.

This informal meeting held before the scheduled activities begin gives me a chance to talk with her.

“I could not miss it”

Aware that where she lives, in Europe, it is the summer season, I ask her why she is interrupting her annual vacation to come to the march. Speaking warmly as she always does, she responds: “Because this is the largest mobilization of women workers, mainly rural women, and one of the world’s largest political events in which the main participants are women. I could not miss it.”

Before occupying the position of IUF General Secretary, Sue worked for many years with rural trade unions, denouncing child labor in agricultural establishments and demanding decent working conditions in the countryside. The demands of small rural producers and wage earners in the sector are an issue that speaks to her.

When she took up the position of General Secretary she stepped up her commitment to actively promote the organization of global food resources for the common good, and this has defined the way she engages with agricultural producers and furthers the defense of the rights of all those who work in a sector that supplies the world with food.

In the march, she joins the other women enthusiastically, walking side by side with them, taking pictures, excited to meet up with the other IUF members who traveled to Brazil from Asia and Africa. She is invited up on the stage, to sit with CONTAG leaders as part of the delegation that will accompany President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva and other government officials.

Her presence on that stage speaks not only of the respect for her international work as head of the IUF, but also of the affection and gratitude with which the members of the Regional Secretariat welcome her.

For Clamu members she is someone to look up to, but also someone who fights side by side with them. At our talk, these women ask her a number of questions, and Sue responds with concrete proposals, which will be developed over the short term.

A commitment was also undertaken to plan the next edition of the Marcha das Margaridas in such a way that more fellow IUF members can participate.

“We will strive to organize resources so that with each new edition there will be more and more of us,” she says.