World Conference of Indigenous Women: “We are not a problem; we are the solution”

December 6, 2013

wciw_2013_lima_peru_-_maribel_gallardo_escobedo_left.previewAs the world convenes to decide the priorities for the international development agendas, indigenous women united in Peru to demand that their voices be heard. The World Conference of Indigenous Women (WCIW) took place October 28-30 at the Plaza del Bosque hotel in Lima, Peru. Hundreds of indigenous women and international observers attended from nearly fifty countries across the Arctic, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

Tarcila Rivera Zea, Executive Director of Chirapaq, the organization with whom The Hunger Project partners in Peru, called for the organization of this conference. The voices of the indigenous have often been silenced and Tarcila feared that the concerns of indigenous women would not be heard in the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, to take place in September 2014.

The WCIW therefore addressed this concern with the objective to collectively build the necessary tools to guarantee the validity and plain recognition of the rights of indigenous women, youths and children in the international scene, through platforms such as Cairo+20, Beijing+20, the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. The result was the Lima Declaration, a common statement agreed upon by indigenous women at the global level, marking a milestone in the indigenous women’s movement.

Maribel Gallardo Escobedo of The Hunger Project-Mexico attended as a representative of the Mazatec population from Oaxaca. Eager to advance an inclusive indigenous women’s agenda representative of her community, Maribel reflected on the rights to basic needs (food, water, services) to which each community should be entitled that she felt were absent from discussions on the broader rights of indigenous women. Using her experience at the conference, Maribel was reinvigorated by The Hunger Project’s inclusive methodology and the way it responds directly to the needs defined within the community, shaped by local principles. Through Vision, Commitment, Action workshops, communities in Oaxaca, Chiapas, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosí are able to direct the formation of the foundation upon which their community development is built. The communities determine their own needs, and then work to fill them.

After participating in this conference, Maribel will return to Oaxaca with a new global perspective. She will be armed with the Lima Declaration and an extensive network of indigenous women throughout the Americas and globally. The Declaration, alongside an action plan, will be presented on many international platforms and United Nations mechanisms focused on the rights of women and indigenous people, a particular highlight being the World Conference on Indigenous People in New York in 2014.

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Pictured: Maribel Gallardo Escobedo (left) and other indigenous women participate in cultural ceremonies at the World Conference of Indigenous Women, October 2013. Photo courtesy of Chirapaq.

December 6, 2013