Global indigenous women leaders make sure their voices are heard “loud & clear”


Women with headphones and note pads sit at a conference.
Local Indigenous women representatives from the Arctic Circle to Australia traveled to Peru in October 2013 to discuss issues in the rise in widespread gender-based violence and other experiences of injustice and marginalization, as well as a myriad of other challenges facing indigenous women across the globe. Image: AAP

(WNN) Lima, PERU, SOUTH AMERICA: On October 28, 2013 indigenous women from around the globe came together to prepare for the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September 2014. To make sure the voices of indigenous women are heard loud and clear in 2014 a combined statement by the women in attendance was created called the “Lima Declaration of World Conference of Indigenous Women, October 2013.”

We, Indigenous women from the seven sociocultural regions of the world, met at the World Conference of Indigenous Women – ‘Progress and challenges regarding the future we want’ in Lima, Peru, from October 28-30, 2013. Our gathering included elders and youth, urban and rural, knowledge holders and healers, activists and artists. We were honored by the participation of our allies and supporters, including UN agencies, donors, governments and organizations in solidarity. We shared our stories, struggles, victories, challenges and proposals to move us forward building upon what we have already achieved. 

We based our discussions on the contributions of those women who came before us, as well as our aspirations for future generations. We celebrated the strength, beauty and expertise of indigenous women at this gathering and around the world. 

Indigenous Women assert our right to self-determination, which encompasses the direct, full and effective participation of Indigenous peoples, including the vital role of Indigenous women, in all matters related to our human rights, political status, and well-being. We endorse the principle: “Nothing about us, without us”, and further declare “Everything about us, with us.”

Indigenous Women affirm our responsibility to protect the Earth, our Mother. Indigenous women experience the same pain and impacts from the physical abuse and excessive exploitation of the natural world, of which we are an integral part. We will defend our lands, waters, territories and resources, which are the source of our survival, with our lives. Protection of Mother Earth is an historic, sacred and continuing responsibility of the world’s indigenous peoples, as the ancestral guardians of the Earth’s lands, waters, oceans, ice, mountains and forests. These have sustained our distinct cultures, spirituality, traditional economies, social structures,  institutions, and political relations from time immemorial. Indigenous women play a primary role in safeguarding and sustaining Mother Earth and her cycles.  

Today, at this time of compounded crises of climate change and impending irreversible loss of biological diversity, Indigenous Women underscore the duty of States to protect the territories of Indigenous Peoples, as critical areas for the social, cultural and ecological recovery and resilience of humankind and the natural world.

For Indigenous Peoples, our lands and territories comprise not only the geographical and physical areas of our lands, waters, oceans, ice, mountains and forests, but also the profound cultural, social and spiritual relationships, values and responsibilities, that connect us to our ancestral homelands.

Indigenous Peoples’ sovereign jurisdiction over our lands, territories and resources is the foundation of our rights to  self-determination, self-governance and free, prior and informed consent. State violations and failure to uphold these rights are a primary source of conflicts and overlapping claims by extractive industries, forest concessions, energy programs, and other harmful projects arising from a failed and exploitative model of economic growth and development.

Indigenous women call upon states to recognize and respect our rights to lands, territories and resources as enshrined in Indigenous customary law, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and other international human rights instruments.  This includes our right to freely pursue our own economic, social, and cultural development.

There is an urgent need to implement the rights enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous women are active human rights defenders of all individual and collective human rights of our Peoples. We often bear the burden of social and environmental harms arising from the consistent denial and violation of our human rights and the lack of implementation and accountability of States.

Indigenous women and girls experience multiple forms of discrimination, lack of access to education and health care, high rates of poverty, maternal and child mortality.  We are subject to all forms of violence, such as domestic violence and sexual abuse, including in the contexts of trafficking, armed conflict, environmental violence, and extractive industries.

As Indigenous women, we recognize the importance of sexual and reproductive health and education for all ages. This includes our associated rights to culturally appropriate health and education services in our communities, and the right to exercise, maintain, and control our own health knowledge and practices. We call for zero tolerance for all forms of discrimination, and all forms of violence against Indigenous Women and girls, which are among the worst and most pervasive forms of human rights violations perpetrated against Indigenous Peoples.

Finally, we affirm that Indigenous women have knowledge, wisdom, and practical experience, which has sustained human societies over generations. We, as mothers, life givers, culture bearers, and economic providers, nurture the linkages across generations and are the active sources of continuity and positive change. 

In regard to forthcoming global events, 

We call upon the WCIP – World Conference of Indigenous Peoples to include the proposals in the Alta Outcome Document for the establishment of effective mechanisms to hold States accountable to their human rights and other obligations.

We call upon the WCIP to prioritize the issues and concerns of Indigenous Women in all the themes, organizational arrangements, outcome documents, and to ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous women, including elders and youth.

We call upon States, the UN system, and all relevant actors to ensure the effective implementation of the Plan of Action and Recommendations arising from the World Conference of Indigenous Women, including through the provision of sufficient financial resources and other support within the frameworks and processes of Beijing+20, Cairo+20 and the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

We thank our hosts, the Indigenous Peoples and the Government of Perú, in particular CHIRAPAQ, Centro de Culturas Indígenas de Perú, and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum, Enlace Continental de Mujeres Indígenas, Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact, Indigenous Women Africa, Alianza de Mujeres Indígenas de Centroamerica y México, Asian Indigenous Women’s Network, Pacific Indigenous Women’s Network, and Indigenous Information Network. Together, we will continue our movement forward.


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