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We already know the solution to climate change: reduce emissions and protect forests. And luckily, there is a group of experts who are uniquely suited to manage, protect, and restore the world’s forests: Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

We have unique knowledge of the areas where we live—which overlap with many remaining forests and biodiversity hotspots. Sixty-five percent of the most remote areas on Earth are indigenous lands. The forests we manage have lower deforestation rates, higher carbon storage, and higher biodiversity conservation than government protected areas.

UN-funded research on biodiversity earlier this year found that 1 million species are under threat—and that recognizing our land rights can help stop this devastating loss. Other recent research found that indigenous and community forests store nearly 300 billion metric tons of carbon. And the recent IPCC report found that securing our rights is a climate change solution—resulting in lower deforestation rates and better carbon storage.

Our sustainable stewardship is key to keeping the carbon in the trees and soil and limiting the rise of global temperatures. Failure to legally recognize our rights, by contrast, leaves our lands vulnerable to agro-industrial production, destructive mining and logging practices, and large-scale infrastructure developments. These can devastate forests, release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, and threaten the biodiversity all humanity relies on. In Brazil, for example, President Jair Bolsonaro threatens to strip away legal protections for our rights in the Amazon—threatening the very lungs of the planet.

No one knows the conflicts playing out among food, fuel, and forests better than Indigenous Peoples and local communities. We’re often in the cross-hairs of conflicts over land, especially forests. Indigenous forests are often destroyed—and Indigenous Peoples forced from their homes—to make way for palm oil plantations, soy, and cattle farms. But none of these improve food security. Community lands feed billions of people—including many of the world’s poorest people—and forests under our management benefit more people than plantations.

Forests remove a third of the carbon emissions added to the atmosphere each year. They clean the air we breathe and the water we drink, control rain and weather patterns, protect precious biodiversity, and strengthen climate resilience. The best way to realize all these benefits is to recognize the rights of forest guardians. So, we do not have to choose between people and planet. We can protect both.

Yet while we live on and manage over half of global lands, we have legal rights to only 10 percent. And when we stand up for our rights, the answer is often violence. The recent Global Witness report found that last year, an average of three land rights defenders were killed every week. Many more suffer harassment, criminalization, and violence.

Forests—and the people who protect them—are the only safe, affordable, large-scale solution to carbon capture. And Indigenous Peoples know how to manage their forests better than anyone else. Invest in recognizing our rights. Together we can prevent the worst effects of climate change.

The overwhelming reality of discrimination of and violence to indigenous women in particular and of indigenous peoples in general illustrates that they are extremely lagging behind in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This report aims to demonstrate this reality with a focus on Goal 10 “Reduce inequality within and among countries’’ and Goal 16 “Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies” and its linkages to Goal 5: “Empowerment of women and girls”.

21 June 2019

GENEVA (ILO News) – A new Convention and accompanying Recommendation to combat violence and harassment in the world of work have been adopted by the International Labour Conference  (ILC). 

The Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, and Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019 , were adopted by delegates on the final day of the Centenary International Labour Conference, in Geneva. For the Convention, 439 votes were cast in favour, seven against, with 30 abstentions. The Recommendation was passed with 397 votes in favour, 12 votes against and 44 abstentions. 

The Convention recognizes that violence and harassment in the world of work “can constitute a human rights violation or abuse…is a threat to equal opportunities, is unacceptable and incompatible with decent work.” It defines “violence and harassment” as behaviours, practices or threats “that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm.” It reminds member States that they have a responsibility to promote a “general environment of zero tolerance”. 

The new international labour standard aims to protect workers and employees, irrespective of their contractual status, and includes persons in training, interns and apprentices, workers whose employment has been terminated, volunteers, job seekers and job applicants. It recognizes that “individuals exercising the authority, duties or responsibilities of an employer” can also be subjected to violence and harassment. 

The standard covers violence and harassment occurring in the workplace; places where a worker is paid, takes a rest or meal break, or uses sanitary, washing or changing facilities; during work-related trips, travel, training, events or social activities; work-related communications (including through information and communication technologies), in employer-provided accommodation; and when commuting to and from work. It also recognizes that violence and harassment may involve third parties. 

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder welcomed the adoption. “The new standards recognize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment,” he said.” The next step is to put these protections into practice, so that we create a better, safer, decent, working environment for women and men. I am sure that, given the co-operation and solidarity we have seen on this issue, and the public demand for action, we will see speedy and widespread ratifications and action to implement.” 

Manuela Tomei, Director of the ILO’s Workquality Department, said: “ Without respect, there is no dignity at work, and, without dignity, there is no social justice. This is the first time that a Convention and Recommendation on violence and harassment in the world of work have been adopted. We now have an agreed definition of violence and harassment. We know what needs to be done to prevent and address it, and by whom. We hope these new standards will lead us into the future of work we want to see.” 

The Convention will enter into force 12 months after two member States have ratified it. The Recommendation, which is not legally binding, provides guidelines on how the Convention could be applied. 

This is the first new Convention agreed by the International Labour Conference since 2011, when the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189)  was adopted. Conventions are legally binding international instruments, while Recommendations provide advice and guidance. 

The ILO, the UN’s agency dealing with world of work issues, is marking its 100th year in 2019 

The Centenary ILC  – the 108th meeting of the Conference – was attended by more than 5,700 delegates, representing governments, workers and employers from the ILO’s 187 member States. The Conference is also expected to adopt a landmark ILO Centenary Declaration, focused on a human-centred approach to the future of work. 


Across the globe, indigenous and rural women make invaluable contributions to their communities and toward global sustainable development and climate goals.

They use, manage, and conserve the community territories that comprise over 50 percent of the world’s land and support up to 2.5 billion people.

The problem: Despite women’s crucial roles as forest and household managers, food providers, and leaders of rural enterprises, the land rights of indigenous and rural women remain constrained by unjust laws and practices. Women are often locked out of decision-making processes at all levels, threatening their economic security and personal agency, as well as the forests they manage and protect.


Nine focal points of the Asian Indigenous Women’s Network (AIWN) have gathered in Baguio City, Philippines last April 2-7 for a strategic coordination meeting and training.

The meeting was called to review the results of the Fourth AIWN Conference last 2018 and to define and unite on actions and strategies for AIWN for the next three years while banking on the conference declaration and looking forward to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Beijing Platform of Action (BfPA).

The meeting also introduced the Green Climate Fund (GCF) as the financial entity of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The focal points were also taught how to maximize social media for visibility of indigenous women in broadening their advocacy reach.

The current United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNSRRIP) Victoria Tauli-Corpuz who is also the convenor of the AIWN stressed in her keynote address that the measure of indigenous women’s success is how they have succeeded in empowering their communities especially the indigenous women.

“We assert our right to self-determination to pursue our economic, social and cultural development,” she said, while emphasizing that strengthening their communities is where the power comes from and that AIWN has many works to do.

Describing the situation of the indigenous women, Tauli-Corpuz said that the indigenous women are highly discriminated, being trafficked, indigenous women human rights workers criminalized among others.

The UNSRRIP also stressed that indigenous women can develop and strengthen their communities creating possibilities on their own and should continue asserting their rights to governance, cultural integrity and diversity. She encouraged the focal points to look at the SDGs and determine what activities to be undertaken including submission of consolidated assessment report on the SDGs and indigenous women in Asia.

As the UNSRRIP, she will submit her thematic report on indigenous justice systems this 2019 and encouraged the women to submit their contributions to her report.


“We cannot say, ‘Cannot’”

The regional and country focal points, who were identified during the fourth AIWN conference in Bangkok, Thailand last October 2018, have identified major and specific activities they can do for the next three years, from 2020 to 2022, while mapping their capacities, the current and emerging challenges they confront and their proposed actions in response to the challenges.

Activities are primarily on building the capacities of indigenous women especially on their leadership skills and raising their awareness, lobbying and advocacy, documentation and reporting, and economic empowerment.

Being organized at the community to the regional level with capabilities and high commitment to reach out to other stakeholders, to monitor the situation of indigenous women, to lobby the governments are among the strengths of the indigenous women’s organizations the focal points have presented.

They also said that lack of resources, government regulations and government insensitivity to indigenous peoples, language barrier, lack of capacity or expertise of indigenous women, political conditions, discrimination against indigenous women from highly patriarchal relations, lack of appropriate information and communications technologies, lack of disaggregated data, lack of participation of indigenous women in decision-making are among the challenges they face in the implementation of the three-year activities they set.

Capacity building through trainings of indigenous women including men, fund raising, continuing lobby and advocacy and participation to important fora a such as at the sessions of the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues are also among the actions they identified to undertake in response to the challenges.

Ms Lat Sok Em, participating on behalf of the focal point of indigenous women in Cambodia, said that they cannot say they cannot work on the activities they have identified as those are all geared towards the best interest of the indigenous women in their communities.


Understanding the Green Climate Fund

Ms Helen Biangalen-Magata, the Southern CSO alternate active observer at the GCF and staff of Tebtebba, provided an overview of the GCF and its Indigenous Peoples (IPs) Policy as part of the training of the focal points. She said that there are project portfolios with the GCF that affect indigenous communities and understanding the GCF is an important step for the AIWN focal points.

The GCF, headquartered at Songdo, South Korea, was established during the UNFCCC’s 16th Conference of Parties (COP) in Cancun, Mexico in 2010, as an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism of the UNFCCC. The GCF Board composed of 24 members representing developed and developing countries equally govern the Fund and are accountable to and functions under the COP.

In 2018, it adopted the Indigenous Peoples’ Policy which a team of indigenous peoples including Ms Biangalen-Magata and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have worked and lobbied for. The IP Policy applies to all indigenous peoples around the world. The right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples is included in the policy among other essential elements of indigenous peoples’ wellbeing. Ms Biangalen-Magata also mentioned that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is used as a standard in the GCF.

Ms Biangalen-Magata also stressed on some important details of the IP Policy such as its scope, its guiding principles, avoidance of adverse impacts of GCF-funded projects, meaningful consultation, equitable compensation and shared benefits, and grievance and redress mechanisms.

She noted that an Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Group composed of four indigenous peoples’ representatives is created to advice the GCF Secretariat, National Designated Authorities (NDAs), Accredited and Executing Entities in case of GCF-supported projects affecting indigenous peoples as well as to monitor and review the implement of the IP Policy and provide guidance and advice to the Board as may be requested.

Mr Raymond de Chavez, the Deputy Executive Director of Tebtebba and also part of the IPs engaging at the GCF, gave an overview of the engagements of IPs at the GCF Board Meetings. He emphasized that IPs are engaging the GCF because they are the most vulnerable and most impacted to climate change and the consequences of ill-conceived climate change solutions. In addition, the IPs play key roles and offer valuable contributions to increasing resilience to climate change impacts through their perspectives, traditional knowledge and sustainable resource management and practices. IPs also engage as the Cancun Agreement explicitly acknowledges the obligations of State Parties to respect the rights of indigenous peoples in any climate change actions and programmes while the Paris Agreement recognizes the positive contributions of IPs’ traditional knowledge to climate change adaptation.

Mr de Chavez said that there are three key demands of IPs engaging at the GCF meetings: respect the rights of indigenous peoples including the recognition of their traditional knowledge, full and effective participation, and access to resources.

Mr de Chavez also mentioned that the engagements of IPs resulted to remarkable gains such as the increased prominence of indigenous issues within the Board, sustained and effective engagement with the Board and the CSOs, engagement at the national level, scoping on readiness and IPs and the approval of the IP Policy.

Ms Biangalen-Magata disclosed opportunities for engagements of indigenous women at the national level which include participation in readiness programmes, Board meetings of the GCF and regional multi-stakeholder consultations, submission of petitions and letters to the GCF, online presence, one-on-one engagements with the Board Members and country negotiators, direct engagements with the NDAs and focal points, and monitoring and reporting of implementation of GCF policies and projects.

The participants were also able to get a glimpse of the project proposals targeting some communities in their countries which are submitted at the GCF with some under the Board’s deliberation.


News writing and utilizing social media for indigenous women visibility

As part of the training of the focal points, Ms Biangalen-Magata provided a review of news and feature story writing to enhance their skills in sharing the day-to-day stories of indigenous women in their communities to a broader audience.

She emphasized on accuracy, brevity and clarity as well as on some key tips in writing news and feature stories.

A short news story writing of the women and critiquing ensued.

Mr de Chavez, in addition, provided a lecture on the use of social media by IPs where he stressed that IPs worldwide are interacting online and supporting indigenous issues and causes. He, however, noted from a research the setbacks of using social media to IPs such as cyber bullying and cyber racism.

Facebook, he said, is the most widely-used social media and can be maximized by and for AIWN members. He also provided tips in utilizing Facebook and its various features such as the Facebook Live.

The focal points who participated in the strategic coordination meeting and training came from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Cambodia, India and Nepal.

This activity, organized by AIWN, is a part of the Strengthening the AIWN and Mobilizing Change project being supported by Leading from the South Programme of the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (IIWF/FIMI). ***

First posted at

Indigenous peoples’ own systems of justice is a subject which has recurrently been addressed by the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, including through country visits, communications, and in seminars and conferences. The main concerns which have been raised by indigenous peoples are the lack of effective recognition of, and support for, their systems of justice by local, regional and national level authorities; ongoing discriminatory and prejudicial attitudes against indigenous peoples and their systems of justice; and the lack of effective methods of coordination between their justice systems and the State ordinary justice authorities. The observance of international human rights standards by both the ordinary and indigenous justice systems, particularly regarding the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities is also a concern that deserves due consideration.

The Special Rapporteur has therefore decided to devote particular attention to this issue through the elaboration of a thematic report which will be presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2019. She intends to address these issues through an examination of international standards regarding indigenous customary justice, access to justice and the right to a fair trial as well as lessons learned from domestic legislation and judicial decisions addressing indigenous customary justice, as well as observations and recommendations made by international human rights bodies.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) asserts the right of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions (Article 5) and to promote, develop and maintain their institutional structures, including their juridical systems or customs in accordance with international human rights standards (Article 34). These are important elements of their right to self-determination. The Declaration furthermore affirms the right of indigenous peoples to ‘access to and prompt decision through just and fair procedures for the resolution of conflicts and disputes with States or other parties, as well as to effective remedies for all infringements of their individual and collective rights’ which should give due consideration ‘to the customs, traditional, rules and legal systems of the indigenous peoples concerned and international human rights’ (Article 40).

In order to develop the report based on an assessment of progress made in this area, the Special Rapporteur would appreciate receiving information, including on the following:

Indigenous justice systems and coordination with the ordinary justice system

1.   Please describe the significance of indigenous justice systems for indigenous peoples and their exercise of collective rights, including self-determination, culture, customs and spiritual traditions.

2.   What national legal provisions establish recognition of indigenous justice systems?

3.   Are there restrictions on the exercise of indigenous jurisdiction and if so, which are these restrictions?  Can indigenous jurisdiction be exercised over non-indigenous individuals?

4.   Please provide examples of how jurisprudence of the ordinary justice system has referred to matters relating to the indigenous justice systems.

5.   How do the jurisdictions between the ordinary justice system and the indigenous justice systems cooperate and coordinate and how is this regulated?

6.   Are the decisions by indigenous justice systems subject to appeals in, and review by, the ordinary justice system?

7.   What measures are in place to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the ordinary and indigenous justice systems? Is there any joint entity consisting of both ordinary and indigenous justice representatives?

8.   How is it ensured that the accused are not tried in both the customary and ordinary justice system (double jeopardy)?

9.   What financial and technical assistance is provided by the State to the administration of indigenous justice systems?

10. Are there measures in place to ensure that indigenous justice systems are in line with international human rights standards and respect the rights of women, children, persons with disabilities and LGBT persons?

    Indigenous peoples in the ordinary justice system

11. What are the main challenges faced by indigenous peoples in terms of accessing the ordinary justice system?

12. Please describe how legal aid and the right to interpretation are provided in the ordinary justice system for indigenous victims, witnesses and those accused of having committed a crime.

13. Are indigenous or non-indigenous experts called to give testimony during court proceedings involving indigenous persons in the ordinary justice system? Please give examples.

14. In relation to indigenous persons facing criminal penalties in the ordinary justice system, how are their economic, social and cultural characteristics taken into account and how is preference given to methods of punishment other than prison?

15. Are indigenous peoples overrepresented in pre-trial detention and prisons compared to the non-indigenous population?

16. What measures are in place to ensure that places of detention respect cultural and religious practices and culturally adequate health services?

17. Please indicate and give examples of how the ordinary justice has provided remedies and reparation for successful indigenous petitioners.

The Special Rapporteur would appreciate receiving information no later than 10 May 2019 in order to consider it in the preparation of the report.

Please send submissions to the email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kindly indicate "Justice Report 2019" in the subject heading of the email submission.


Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the convenor of the Asian Indigenous Women’s Network and the current UNSRIP has shared her message in the celebration of the International Day of Women via her Facebook account:  

While we celebrate International Women’s Day, we should not forget the missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada and the US and the rest of the world, the disproportionate number of incarcerated indigenous women in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US, and the trafficked indigenous women and girls in many countries. We also remember indigenous women who have been forcibly displaced from their traditional territories because of extractive industries, agribusiness expansion, mega-infrastructure projects and militarization. We think of those who have been killed and who are victims of domestic violence and those who have been raped and never saw justice come their way. We think of indigenous women who are suffering from environmental degradation because of the operations of extractive industries and agribusinesses. We think of those who have been criminalized.”

“Let us work together to stop all these and to support the efforts of indigenous women to empower themselves and communities. The big source of hope for the world today is seeing scores of indigenous women becoming empowered individually and collectively, who are asserting their rights and claiming these in the best ways they can. We are seeing more indigenous women strengthening not just themselves but their communities as well. We see them trying their best to adapt to climate change and contribute to climate change mitigation using their traditional knowledge and innovating new ways. We see them trying to address the violence in their communities and homes and addressing conflicts. This International Women’s Day should be celebrated by knowing more about women’s situations and acknowledging and supporting further their efforts to make this world respect, protect and fulfill indigenous women’s collective and individual human rights. We celebrate by committing to do more in terms of practicing, spreading and transmitting the values of solidarity, reciprocity, living in harmony with nature, human rights and sustainability and fighting against racism and discrimination and all forms of human rights violations including violence against women, girls and nature. HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY! MORE POWER TO INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND TO ALL WOMEN.”


January 14, 2019- Languages play a crucial role in our daily lives. They are not only our first medium for communication, education and social integration, but are also at the heart of each person’s unique identity, cultural history and memory. The ongoing loss of indigenous languages is particularly devastating, as the complex knowledges and cultures they foster are increasingly being recognized as strategic resources for good governance, peacebuilding, reconciliation, and sustainable development. More importantly, such losses have huge negative impacts indigenous peoples’ most basic human rights.

An International Year is an important mechanism dedicated to raising awareness of a topic of global interest and mobilizing different players for coordinated action around the world. In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/71/178) proclaiming 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, based on a recommendation by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. At the time, the Permanent Forum expressed concern that 40 per cent of the world’s estimated 6,700 languages were in danger of disappearing— the majority belonging to indigenous peoples.

Hosted by UNESCO in collaboration with the Permanent Forum, the IYIL 2019 will strive to preserve, support and promote indigenous languages at the national, regional and international levels.

The IYIL2019 will mobilize stakeholders to act in five key areas:

1. Increasing understanding, reconciliation and international cooperation.

2. Creating favourable conditions for knowledge-sharing and dissemination of good practices.

3. Integrating indigenous languages into a standard setting.

4. Empowering through capacity building.

5. Elaborating new knowledge to foster growth and development.

Join us in celebrating IYIL2019 to help promote and protect indigenous languages and improve the lives of those who speak them. Together, we can all come closer to achieving the objectives set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. To learn more, please see:

#IYIL2019 #UN4Indigenous #WeAreIndigenous


(Tuesday, October 16, 2018)- The theme for International Women’s Day 2019, which will take place on 8 March, is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”.

The theme will focus on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.

The achievement of the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions, particularly when it comes to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Based on current trajectories, existing interventions will not suffice to achieve a Planet 50-50 by 2030. Innovative approaches that disrupt “business as usual” are central to removing structural barriers and ensuring that no woman and no girl is left behind.

Innovation and technology provide unprecedented opportunities, yet trends indicate a growing gender digital divide and women are under-represented in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design. It prevents them from developing and influencing gender-responsive innovations to achieve transformative gains for society. From mobile banking to artificial intelligence and the internet of things, it is vital that women’s ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies.

Echoing the CSW63 Priority theme, IWD 2019 will look to industry leaders, game-changing start-ups, social entrepreneurs, gender equality activists, and women innovators to examine the ways in which innovation can remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality, encourage investment in gender-responsive social systems, and build services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls. On 8 March 2019, join us as we celebrate a future in which innovation and technology creates unprecedented opportunities for women and girls to play an active role in building more inclusive systems, efficient services and sustainable infrastructure to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs and gender equality.


AIWN 4th Conference Declaration

1 December 2018, 3:59 am Written by
Published in Latest News

Indigenous Women Matter:

Resilience, Governance and Sustainable Development

Declaration of the 4th Conference of the Asia Indigenous Women’s Network

Bangkok, Thailand, 6-8 October 2018


Kankanaey-Igorot, Boro, Lisu, Karen, Kachin, Chin, Mandaya, Mansaka, Dumagat, Tripura, Papora, Marma, Rakhain, Bunong, Shan, Mon, Kreung, Sumi, Naga, Oraon, Kharia, Minahasa, Taluk, Dayak, Krio, Kanayatn, Semoa Beri, Hmong, Semai, Iban, Dusun Kimaragang, Thakali, Lhomi, Thanu, Newar, Gurung, Tai, Pinuyumayan, Munda, Kalinga and Kalimantan women from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines.

We have gathered at the Prince Palace Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand on October 6-8, 2018 for the 4th Asia Indigenous Women’s Network with the theme Indigenous Women Matter: Resilience, Governance and Sustainable Development, and affirm the Lima Declaration of the World Conference of Indigenous Women.  

We hereby “assert our right to self-determination, which encompasses the direct, full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples and the vital role of Indigenous women in all matters related to our human rights, political status, and well-being.”

In the the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there should be nothing about us, without us!

Agenda 21 to Agenda 2030: Continuing impacts of historical discrimination

It has been 23 years since the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing where indigenous women from all over the globe met for the first time to share their situation, unite on analyses and build solidarity for support and action. The multiple oppression and multidimensional discrimination identified as shared experience among these women still persist until this day despite international commitments for the respect, protection and fulfilment of women and indigenous peoples’ rights, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) adopted in 2007, Agenda 21 and the Millennium Development Goals, and now the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

We acknowledge the progress in the recognition of  indigenous peoples’ rights and women’s equal rights and the succeeding initiatives of transformative partnership with indigenous peoples. However, complex challenges remain as  economic interests and power prevail over saving the planet for the future generation.  Most Asian countries have adopted the UNDRIP, but a lot of work have yet to be done to make this a reality at the national level, including repealing  contradictory laws especially those relating to indigenous peoples’ lands and self-determination. In the meantime, despite international commitments to combat the climate crisis, it is business as usual in Asia where the remaining robust resources in indigenous territories are targeted by extractive industries, tourism, hydropower dams, industrial and agricultural corporations, including conservation initiatives.


Twenty-three years since Beijing,  indigenous women and their communities all over the region are still challenging the increasing loss of the most vital element of their  security and well-being  - our ancestral lands and  resources.  The grave violation of human and collective rights of indigenous peoples, including multifaceted gender violence  today, speaks of  the general lack of political will among states  to effectively  address the plight of indigenous peoples.

Criminalization of Indigenous human rights defenders

There is an alarming increase in criminalization and extrajudicial killings of  indigenous peoples human rights defenders protecting indigenous territories and resources from further  extraction and exploitation. Forty percent (40%) of those murdered in 2016 are indigenous  peoples. While this number went down to 25% by 2017, this still represent a disproportionate number, considering they compose only 5% of the global population. While the proportion of indigenous women to men  is 1 woman to nine males globally, they suffer from  continuing gender-specific threats like sexual violence, threats to the well-being of their children and targeted smear campaigns as terrorists,  among others. With Philippines ranking as the 2nd most dangerous country in the world and the most dangerous in Asia, with India, Pakistan and Myanmar in the list, Asia is second to Latin America as the most dangerous regions for human and indigenous rights activists.[1] Militarization of indigenous communities continue unabated resulting to utter disruption including children’s education and the weakening of indigenous socio-political, economic systems impacting heavily on  the collective dynamics of indigenous peoples.[2] In some areas, this is almost tantamount to ethnocide.

Criminalization extends to our  indigenous livelihoods and food systems[3], not to mention that most are already in states of plunder and degradation  from toxic industrial and agricultural  waste and  extreme  climate conditions. More than hunger and poverty, our over-all  well-being is threatened from all angles, even within the confines of the territories that has once secured our ancestors.

Violence against indigenous women and girls

Violence against indigenous women remains unabated. Physical, sexual and psychological assault  on indigenous women, including witch-hunting, trafficking  and bonded labor, characterize concerted efforts to  stifle growing indigenous women’s rights advances and their communities’ assertion of collective rights to self-determination. A significant part of the onslaught against indigenous women, both as individuals and as indigenous peoples, come from state laws, policies and programs, and in many cases, the bureaucracy. The Thomson Reuters Foundation survey puts India as the most dangerous place for women based on incidence of “sexual violence and harassment, cultural  and traditional practices and from human trafficking including forced labour, sex slavery and domestic servitude.” Myanmar comes in third in the ranking. [4]

Sadly, in some indigenous communities where  patriarchy and feudalism are strong and with high incidence and persistence of poverty,  indigenous women can also be under attack within the family and society, such as  witch-hunting[5] in South  Asia and  bride kidnaps[6]  in Southeast Asia. The region remains to be a popular  labor, sex and organ trafficking hub. In India alone, more than three fourths of tribal women from 3 states  are in major cities working as domestic helpers.  Closely related to labor migration is trafficking. Alarm has been raised about bride trafficking among indigenous communities in Southeast Asia and India. In one indigenous community in Nepal, there is, reportedly, at least one member in every household who exchanged a kidney for  much needed cash.

Indigenous peoples’ poverty is further exacerbated by the alienation of our sources for subsistence in favor of state priorities and corporate agenda in the name of development or governance. In the CHT of Bangladesh, demographic engineering continues to be the root cause of violent conflicts and where women-targeted crimes have been alarming. In India, the same phenomenon has numerically minoritized the indigenous peoples in their own territory impacting on their access to basic services, programs and indigenous self-governance. In this situation of deprivation and marginalization, indigenous women are forced to seek better opportunities outside their communities, most often, leaving children in the care of parents or relatives.

Impacts from development initiatives and access to justice

The interlinkages of conflict and development-induced displacement is very pronounced in Asia.

The impacts of the climate crises escalates human pressure and competition for resources predisposing  indigenous women and children to disproportionate risks. The montane erosion caused by Typhoon Mangkhut  in the Philippines, claiming around 80 indigenous victims, is directly related to the local history of corporate mining in the area.

Indonesia has had its series of incidents from volcanic eruptions and earthquakes to the latest tsunami in Central Sulawesi. While retrieval and relief work is ongoing, concerns have been raised about the equally affected indigenous communities who have been isolated  and are being left out of the post disaster work. In both sudden and slow-onset disasters emergency, relief and rehabilitation responses detracts and obscures underlying matters of human rights and accountability including the particular strategic needs of indigenous women, girls and those with disabilities.

Access to justice and basic social services is very limited and attacks the dignity of indigenous women. The justice system is usually geographically and financially inaccessible, alienating in language, format and process, and culturally and gender insensitive, thus, demoralizing for indigenous women. Aside from these, corruption in law enforcement prevails tolerating tampering of medico-legal reports. Up to now, many indigenous women do not enjoy their right to a nationality which deprives them access to basic services. 

Lack of full and effective recognition, protection and fulfillment of individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples is counterproductive to the global targets of sustainable development and gender empowerment. It induces intercommunity/intra-people conflict, food instability, landlessness and general human insecurity. It keeps indigenous women impoverished, dependent and in vulnerable conditions, and unable to fully enjoy all their rights as women and indigenous peoples.  In the spirit of the 2030 Agenda’s “leaving no one behind,” structural injustice must be addressed by all actors at all levels.


We, Indigenous Women in Asia, stand firm in our resolve to fulfill our roles as stewards of life – our lives rooted in the legacy of our identities and territories nurtured by our ancestors and the lives of the future generation. Building on our knowledge and experiences and harnessing resources, means and strategies, we are addressing these intersecting challenges resulting from our history of discrimination in various forms and levels amid the market-oriented, business-as-usual development trend and worsening situation of our rights as women and as indigenous peoples. We are working towards the realization of indigenous peoples’ sustainable, self-determined development:

      Indigenous women in Thailand have been enabling themselves to claim their citizenship and  advance participation in decision making spaces in the formal and traditional spaces while addressing discrimination of women in the traditional context.

      Despite the volatile  situation of indigenous peoples and the relentless and  unconscionable incidences of violence against indigenous women in Bangladesh, indigenous women in the Chittagong Hilltracts of Bangladesh  are addressing  their marginalization as women in traditional governance systems without invalidating the latter.  To date, there are reportedly 385 women karbaris (village heads) out of more than 870. While challenges from the personal to the broader social level persist, these women, organizing themselves as a network, are slowly influencing the advancement of the status of indigenous women as they drive their communities to gender empowerment.

      The conflict-affected indigenous women in Burma are working on transformative justice and enhancing participation in local governance;

      Indigenous women in Indonesia are mapping their spaces and asserting customary forests and participation in matters affecting them, while challenging the impacts of oil palm plantation and lobbying for the passage of a bill recognizing indigenous peoples’ rights in the country;

      Indigenous women in Lao PDR are working in various ways to empower young women to address discrimination in their communities and in the wider society. These include targeted trainings, i.e., lifeskills and support for indigenous youth migrating to the urban centers for education, and support for the livelihoods of indigenous women in  their communities.

      Indigenous women in Nepal are consistently lobbying for their representation and participation, including those of indigenous women with disabilities,  from local to international level;

      Indigenous women in Vietnam  are using legal platforms to advance their status through the promotion of  indigenous knowledge, food systems  and  transmission of culture;

      Similarly, indigenous women in Taiwan  are using the recent law recognizing indigenous peoples in Taiwan to  strengthen their ranks while working towards further recognition of other indigenous peoples’ groups not included in the said law;

      Indigenous women in Cambodia are organizing themselves to strengthen their ranks in the campaign  against economic land concessions and gender violence;

      Indigenous women in Malaysia continue to strengthen indigenous women and their community’s capacities to assert and protect their rights to their lands and territories;

      Indigenous women in India continue to respond to gender discrimination and violence against indigenous women and girls while asserting rights to land a territories, despite various kinds of challenges faced from  within and outside their communities.

      In the Philippines, indigenous women continue to build the resilience of their organizations and communities through community organizing, mobilizing to establish indigenous community schools, and ensuring food security using indigenous knowledge and practices. Indigenous women, at different levels and spaces, continue to engage in the campaign against militarization and corporate interests in indigenous territories.


We have a voice. We have been governing ourselves since time immemorial. We know what is good and what is bad for us and that has to be acknowledged! States, development actors and agencies should :

1.      Address structural barriers to indigenous peoples and gender - responsive development  by effectively implementing  state commitments to indigenous peoples and women.  There is a need for stronger political will among nation-states to curb resource extraction, land and water expropriation, megahydropower dams  and rethink conservation[7], tourism, among others.

This should include :

o   Suspension of all initiatives and programs without genuine consent from indigenous peoples concerned or otherwise resulting to plunder of their territories and  exploitation of human resources including trafficking among indigenous women and youth;

o   Repeal existing policies contrary to the UNDRIP and the CEDAW and effectively integrate these instruments in national program implementation, specifically, Agenda 2030, in consultation and partnership with indigenous peoples noting the need to leverage spaces to engage  indigenous women . The need for disaggregated data based on sex and ethnicity is crucial to this end.

2.     Institutionalize special measures to address the intersectionalities of discrimination,  specially land rights for indigenous women within the scope and protection of indigenous peoples’ collective lands.

3.     Support initiatives to respond to the need for development strategies that respect collective rights, ensure environmental, social, cultural and the spiritual integrity of indigenous peoples while affirming their capacities to decide and implement their sustainable, self-determined development.

o   Access to financial and technical support should be empowering, not dehumanizing. Development actors should facilitate direct linkages  of indigenous women to  financial  and technical support agencies.

o   Resources should also be targeted to leverage the position of indigenous women to enable effective participation.


We, indigenous women in Asia, working together as a loose network  with a common vision for the advancement of our status as women and as indigenous peoples and the overall gender empowerment of our own communities and the wider public, commit to harness and unleash our power and potentials to sustain our visions of development. We shall:

1)    Strengthen our organizations and agencies in the advancement of our status and realization of rights as women within and outside our own communities. We will keep working for the enhancement of our institutional capacities and linkages at different spaces and levels. This includes strengthening capacities to generate, document and monitor data not only to ensure  our visibility but more importantly in support of our advocacy and campaigns for data disaggregation and accounting for our contribution to sustainable development. We further commit to continue  monitoring and   reporting  violations of our individual and collective rights through our community monitoring efforts and participatory mapping and resource inventory.

2)    Arrest the erosion of  our indigenous knowledge, language and practice through continuing  exercise while ensuring   transmission to the our children and youth, in support of the integrity of our indigenous territories which has sustained our families and communities  through generations.

4. Sustain and strengthen our engagement at different levels and in different platforms to ensure the integration of indigenous  knowledge and practices including respect for our spirituality and  well-being without  further violating our rights.

3)    Broaden  solidarity  to address discriminatory customs and practices within our own indigenous communities. We shall continue engaging our traditional and state systems to ensure gender-responsive processes to address violence against  indigenous women and girls, climate and disaster actions, access to basic services and justice.


Organizations represented during the Conference:

Women’s Resource Network, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh

Promotion of Indigenous and Nature Together (POINT), Yangon, Myanmar

Cambodia Indigenous Peoples' Organization (CIPO), Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Indigenous Women's Forum of the  North East India (IWFNEI), NE, India

Boro Women's Justice Forum (BWJF), Assam, India

Torang Trust, Jharkhand, India

PEREMPUAN AMAN, Jakarta, Indonesia

Institut Dayakologi, Pontianak, Indonesia

Yayasan Karyah Sosial Pancur Kasih, Pontianak, Indonesia

Sisterhood for Development, Vientiane, Laos

Save the Children Laos, Vientiane, Laos

Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), Subang Jaya, Malyasia

Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), Sarawak, Malaysia

National Indigenous Women’s Forum (NIWF), Kathmandu, Nepal

National Indigenous Women's Federation (NIWF), Kathmandu, Nepal

Center for Indigenous Peoples' Research and Development (CIPRED), Kathmandu, Nepal

National Indigenous Disabled Women Association Nepal (NIDWAN), Lalitpur, Nepal

Limpong na Tutong Mandaya na Kabubayan sang Calapagan na Asosasyon (LMTKCA), Davao Oriental, Philippines

National Alliance of Indigenous Women's Organizations (BAI), Quezon City, Philippines

Alliance of Indigenous Women's Organizations in the Cordillera Region (Innabuyog), Baguio City, Philippines

SILDAP Southeastern Mindanao, Inc., Davao del Norte, Philippines

Indigenous Women's Network of Thailand (IWNT), Chiangmai, Thailand

Centre of Research & Development in Upland Area (CERDA), Hanoi, Vietnam

Papora Indigenous Development Association, Taiwan

Asia Indigenous Peoples' Pact, Chiangmai, Thailand

International Indigenous Women's Forum, Lima, Peru

Tebtebba, Baguio City, Philippines


[2] Targetting of indigenous women activists in the Philippines has escalated since 2012 Indigenous peoples managed community schools have been targeted in counter insurgency campaigns by Philippine government since 2012.

[3] In relation to the enlistment of Kaeng Krachen National Park as a world heritage park, the Karen have experienced forced evictions, destruction of housing and crops, arrests and enforced disappearances since 2010.



[5]In India,  2,290  alleged witches were killed from 2000- 2016, most of which were poor, illiterate, old, widow and single. Aside from superstition, witch crimes have also reportedly been linked to disputes over land and property of women.

[6] “In Myanmar’s borders with China and Thailand, of 133 verified and suspected cases of trafficking involving 163 women and girls from Kachin and Northern Shan State documented in 2004-2007, 90 in the confirmed cases were sold to men in other countries as forced brides; 94% of them were sent to China” (

[7] India’s Forest Rights Act 2006   failed to prevent the displacement of Adivasis from their forests  homes nor ensure reparations, in favor of wild animal reserves for decades. “…protected areas have already displaced some 600 000 tribal people and forest dwellers and affected many more. Yet, the Ministry of Environment and Forests plans to establish a further 650 wildlife sanctuaries and 150 national parks in the next few years, displacing as many people again" (PRIA, 1993).-