International Day of the World’s Indigenous People
On the 9th August 2011 the UN celebrated the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People at its headquarters in New York and reaffirmed “the rights of indigenous peoples and our shared commitment to advance the values of equity, justice and dignity for all”. (Read the full text of the Secretary-General’s message)
Womankind Worldwide welcomes the commitment of the international community to address inequalities and discrimination towards people from indigenous backgrounds. Womankind has been working to support indigenous women in Bolivia since 2002, ensuring that women who are traditionally excluded are able to claim their rights.
More than half of the population in Bolivia is indigenous, mainly Aymara and Quechua, and has traditionally been excluded from access to education, resources and positions of power. Cultural traditions which are more prevalent in rural areas have a deeper impact on indigenous women, who are considered less worthy than men. This belief leads to discriminatory attitudes towards women within the household in terms of inheritance, and increases the likelihood of experiencing violence.
With the election of the first indigenous president Evo Morales, a new constitution was passed in 2008 providing a framework to improve women’s lives, but up to now it hasn’t translated into a real improvement of women’s rights in the country. Although formally the government is working towards gender equality, i.e. women should make up half of Bolivia’s Cabinet, in practice greater female political participation in Bolivia has been mired by cultural norms and practices that foster gender based political violence.
It is in this context that Womankind is currently working with our partners CDIMA and Red Ada in Bolivia to boost indigenous and rural women’s participation in power and address gender based violence and discrimination. So far we have built the skills and abilities of hundreds of indigenous women to understand their rights, participate in politics and take advantage of the opportunities provided at the regional and local level by the new Constitution. Our partners are also lobbying local governments to achieve positive changes in legislation and public policies that guarantee the rights of indigenous women. By using communication campaigns in Aymara, Quechua and Spanish, CDIMA and Red Ada are also able to reach and give a voice to marginalised indigenous women and to increase public awareness of their rights.
Find more about our work with indigenous women in Bolivia. I hope it will encourage you to continue supporting Womankind, so that we can continue to help our partners in promoting the rights and cultural identity of indigenous women in Bolivia.