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Indigenous peoples

The Leadership School of Indigenous Women: supporting tomorrow's leaders

Indigenous women face the triple burden of discrimination, because of their gender, their situation of poverty and their being indigenous. We believe that the key to reverse this situation is supporting processes of empowerment of indigenous women, who can become the leaders of tomorrow. Guided by these ideas, FAO and the International Indigenous Women Forum (IIWF-FIMI) joined forces in 2014 to devise a capacity building programme that has been highly successful at the global level, and needed to be transformed for implementation at national levels. 

These new national chapters now integrate FAO's contribution, consisting in a new module on Food Security and Nutrition that seeks to strengthen the participant's capacities in the key areas of FAO's expertise, in particular food security, indigenous food systems and the importance of traditional knowledge. The learning itinerary comprises three steps: a first stage of e-learning through a virtual platform; a two week in person seminar and a third stage that involves the elaboration of advocacy plans that could be implemented by the participants.

Since May 2015, more than 100 indigenous women have been empowered in Bolivia, Peru, India, Philippines, Panama, El Salvador and Paraguay. These women, who come from remote areas and, for some, being the first time they go out of their communities, got together to learn, share their problems and challenges and reflect on how to advocate to improve their situation, in particular regarding food security and nutrition.

In words of the participants

"Indigenous women need this kind of school because most of us do not know about our rights; we know there are rights but we do not know how to implement them and we do not know how to advocate for them. Coming here, participating in this school, I feel that I have learnt so many things that I can take back to the community, to the women I work with."
- Darhmingliani Hloncheu, Mizo community, India

“This is the first time that I am able to join a gathering of indigenous women from different parts of the country and even from outside our country. We can see a democratic dialogue and we are learning through sharing our experiences and listening to the experiences of others.” 

"It’s time for us indigenous women to break our silence. It’s time for us to speak up. Then and now, we see in communities that only a few women are given the opportunity to participate in decision making and this is usually because they are insecure about speaking.”
- Elsie Mokudef, from Teduray Peoples, Maguindanao Province, the Philippines.

 

"When we talk about women and food security we need to realize that women are vital on the production of food. It is us who produce, who prepare the food and feed our families. We are convinced that in our houses we need to eat our own foods. We indigenous peoples are not poor, on the contrary, we are very rich because we have nature, and nature is alive."
- Judith Paucar, provincia de Puno, Peru

 

“My advocacy plan is based in food sovereignty, we want the wheat from my region to be produced and processed to make cookies for school breakfast as a way to promote healthy and nutritious consumption of our local products.”
- Clementina Garnica, Ckochas municipality department of Potosí, Bolivia

Key facts about indigenous women

  • Although there is a great diversity in the experiences of indigenous women, there are also common themes they experience across regions.
  • A cross-cutting discrimination that affects all spheres of life and exacerbates inequalities. 
  • Low levels of educational attainment and literacy compared to indigenous men, which results in low access to political participation and decision-making spaces.
  • They are holders of indigenous traditional knowledge, custodians of seeds and stewards of biodiversity conservation. 
  • Indigenous women are steadfast in their demand of social justice, gender equity and respect to indigenous peoples' rights and way of life.