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A 16-part blog series by UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on the occasion of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.


(Monday, November 27, 2017) -- We need to treasure our indigenous women and girls. They have unique knowledge and skills, sophisticated ecological knowledge and adaptive responses to climate variability, including environmental practices that lower carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. As custodians of their ancestral lands and the environment upon which they depend, they are a rich source of exactly the resources that our fragile planet needs. Yet not only are indigenous peoples not able to enjoy all their rights, they are especially vulnerable to violence.


It is 10 years since the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which drew special attention to the needs and rights of indigenous women. Yet, still this year, at UN Women’s Commission on the Status of Women, where the issue of empowering indigenous women was the central focus, those women told us that the most important challenges they faced included violence, economic empowerment, political participation and climate change.


Indigenous women cannot realize their rights nor fully participate in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development while they are subjected to inequality and violence. From sexual violence and domestic violence to labour exploitation and trafficking during times of conflict, too many indigenous women are at risk. Together, governments, UN agencies and most importantly indigenous women themselves, are taking steps to address exploitation and harassment by non-indigenous people, including ending practices that prevent indigenous women from controlling their fertility, education and lives.


Impunity for violence against indigenous women must end. Guatemala is setting an example. Thirty-four years after the rape and slavery of the indigenous Q’echi’ women of Sepur Zarco, a court has convicted former military officers of crimes against humanity. This was the first time a national court anywhere in the world had ruled on charges of sexual slavery during an armed conflict. This is a step in the right direction for indigenous women’s access to justice. Survivors and their communities are now receiving reparations. Yet at nearly four decades on, this justice is long overdue.



(Friday, November 24, 2017)- Every woman and every girl has the right to a life free of violence. Yet this rupture of human rights occurs in a variety of ways in every community, particularly affecting those who are most marginalized and vulnerable. Around the world, more than 1 in 3 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lives; 750 million women were married before age 18, and more than 250 million have undergone Female Genital Mutilation.



Women’s rights activists are being targeted at alarming levels, and violence against women politicians impedes progress on women’s civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights.



It is now widely recognized that violence against women, including harassment and harmful practices, are major barriers to the fulfilment of human rights, and a direct challenge to women’s inclusion and participation in sustaining peace. Without tackling it, we will never fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.



It is time to further our collective action to end violence against women and girls for good. That takes all of us working together in our own countries, regions and communities, at the same time, towards the same goal.



The United Nations is addressing violence against women in many ways, including the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against women; the ‘Spotlight Initiative’ with the European Union to connect our efforts with those of national governments and civil society; and the UN Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Initiative.



In addition, my zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment in the United Nations is part of the Strategy on Gender Parity that was launched in September. We have also committed to continuing the ‘UNiTE to End Violence against Women’ Campaign, under the new title ‘UNiTE by 2030’.



It is time for united action from all of us, so that women and girls around the world can live free from harassment, harmful practices, and all other forms of violence.




The European Union (EU), International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN Women are launching a new joint programme to address women migrant workers' vulnerabilities to violence, trafficking and labour exploitation

Monday, November 20, 2017 (Bangkok, Thailand) — On 17 November, EU, ILO and UN Women launched a new programme "Safe and Fair: Realizing women migrant workers' rights and opportunities in the ASEAN region", as part of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

The programme's main objective is to achieve safe and fair labour migration for all women in the ASEAN region by addressing women migrant workers' vulnerabilities, enhancing their access to essential services and strengthening rights-based and gender-responsive approaches to violence against women and migration governance.

The programme was launched at an event co-organized by the EU, ILO and UN Women to introduce the new EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, to eliminate violence against women and girls, and also the Initiative's first programme, "Safe and Fair: Realizing women migrant workers' rights and opportunities in the ASEAN region". Funded by the EU, with a budget of EUR 25 million, the programme will be implemented through a UN Women and ILO partnership. The programme will run for five years, starting 2018, and focus on ASEAN countries.

In his address to government representatives, trade unions and NGOs working on migrant rights and violence against women, students, and UN agencies, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: "Women and girls make up over 70 per cent of all victims of human trafficking. Too often these terrible crimes go unnoticed - unseen and unspoken. And the cycles of violence continue to thrive in silence, in the darkest corners of our society. So it's up to each and every one of us - women and men alike - to stand up and to speak out! To drive out the darkness and to break the walls of silence. This is exactly what our new Spotlight Initiative aims to do."


Message by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 25 November 2017

Date: Thursday, November 16, 2017

The initial response to the outpouring of ‘#MeToo’ around the world has been of outrage at the scale of sexual abuse and violence revealed. The millions of people joining the hashtag tide showed us how little they were heard before. They poured through the floodgate, opening up conversations, naming names and bolstering the frailty of individual statements with the robustness of a movement.

This virtual class action has brought strength to those whose stories would otherwise have not been told. Sexual violence in private almost always ends up as one person’s word against another, if that word is ever spoken. Even sexual violence in public has been impossible to call out when society does not view rape as a male crime but as a woman’s failing, and views that woman as dispensable.

We are seeing the ugly face of violence brought out into the light: the abuses of power that repress reporting and diminish the facts, and that exclude or crush opposition. These acts of power draw from the same roots, whether they concern the murder of a woman human rights defender standing up against big business interests in the Amazon basin, a young refugee girl forced to have sex for food or supplies, or a small business employee in London forced out of her job for being ‘difficult’, after reporting the sexual misconduct of her supervisor. In each case, and over and over, these acts of abuse have stemmed from a confidence that there will be no significant reprisal, no law invoked, no calling to account.

But everyone has the right to live their life without the threat of violence. This holds for all people, no matter what their gender, age, race, religion, ethnicity or caste, and irrespective of their income level, sexual orientation, HIV status, citizenship, where they live, or any other characteristic of their identity.

Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. There are many ways to prevent violence in the first place and to stop cycles of violence repeating.

As a society, we can support the passing and implementation of laws to protect girls and women from child marriage, FGM, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, and we can agitate for their impact to be properly monitored and evaluated.

The provision of essential services for survivors of violence must be comprehensive, multi-sectoral, non-judgmental, of good quality and accessible to everyone, with no exceptions. These services are the frontline of response to those whose lives have just been ruptured; they must have the survivor’s dignity and safety as central concerns.

Prevention of violence must begin early. The education system and teachers themselves are at the forefront of children and young people learning to carry forward the principles of equality, respect and non-violence for future generations. This takes appropriate curricula and role model behaviour.

What #MeToo has shown clearly is that everyone has a part to play in changing our society for the better. We must speak out against harassment and violence in our homes, workplaces, in our institutions, social settings and through our media. #MeToo has also shown us that no one is immune. All institutions need to be aware of the potential for violence to occur among their staff. With that knowledge, we must take steps to prevent it, and at the same time be well prepared to respond appropriately.

In this broad effort to end violence against women and girls, we see men as playing a vital role in bringing change. Challenging sexism, male dominance and male privilege as society’s norm starts with modeling positive masculinities. Parents can instill principles of equality, rights and respect as they raise their sons; and men can call out their peers for the behaviours that are now being understood as the unacceptable tip of the harassment iceberg.

At the heart of today’s theme of ‘leaving no one behind’, is leaving no one out. This means bringing women and girls as equals into everything that concerns them, and planning solutions to end violence with those who have been previously dismissed, sidelined or excluded.

As a global community, we can act now to end violence against women and girls, to change institutions and work together to end discrimination, restore human rights and dignity, and leave no one behind.


(Friday, August 4, 2017)-- On 9 August, we commemorate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples to bring to bring attention to the rights and achievements of indigenous peoples. This year, marks the tenth anniversary of the UN General Assembly adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—the most comprehensive international agreement on indigenous peoples’ rights.

Ten years since the Declaration, indigenous peoples around the world have made significant progress in advocating for their rights. Yet, there continues to be a gap between policy and action. Indigenous peoples continue to face exclusion, marginalization and major challenges in enjoying their basic rights. Indigenous women and girls are particularly vulnerable and continue to face disproportionate levels of discrimination and violence. More than one in three indigenous women are raped during their lifetime and they also show higher-than-average rates of maternal mortality, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Despite the continued threats to their security, ancestral lands and the environment upon which they depend, indigenous women often serve as transmitters of indigenous knowledge and cultures. Indigenous peoples have sophisticated ecological knowledge and adaptive responses to climate variability, including environmental practices that lower carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development makes the promise to “leave no one behind”. Indigenous peoples’ and indigenous women’s rights, voices and leadership must be equally protected and promoted, to achieve sustainable development for all.

On the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, here are some voices of indigenous women from around the world.

Join the conversation by following #WeAreIndigenous and @UN_Women on Twitter. A social media package with sample messages in English, Spanish and French for sharing across platforms is available here.


GENEVA (7 August 2017) – The world’s indigenous peoples still face huge challenges a decade after the adoption of an historic declaration on their rights, a group of United Nations experts and specialist bodies has warned.  Speaking ahead of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August, the group says States must put words into action to end discrimination, exclusion and lack of protection illustrated by the worsening murder rate of human rights defenders.

The joint statement from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples reads as follows:

“It is now 10 years since the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly, as the most comprehensive international human rights instrument for indigenous peoples.  The Declaration, which took more than 20 years to negotiate, stands today as a beacon of progress, a framework for reconciliation and a benchmark of rights.

But a decade on, we need to acknowledge the vast challenges that remain.  In too many cases, indigenous peoples are now facing even greater struggles and rights violations than they did 10 years ago.

Indigenous peoples still suffer from racism, discrimination, and unequal access to basic services including healthcare and education.  Where statistical data is available, it shows clearly that they are left behind on all fronts, facing disproportionately higher levels of poverty, lower life expectancy and worse educational outcomes.

Indigenous peoples face particularly acute challenges due to loss of their lands and rights over resources, which are pillars of their livelihoods and cultural identities.

Indigenous women face double discrimination, both as women and as indigenous people.  They are frequently excluded from decision-making processes and land rights, and many suffer violence.

We call on all States to ensure that indigenous women fully enjoy their rights as enshrined in the Declaration and emphasize that their rights are a concern for all of us.

The worsening human rights situation of indigenous peoples across the globe is illustrated by the extreme, harsh and risky working conditions of indigenous human rights defenders.

Individuals and communities who dare to defend indigenous rights find themselves labelled as obstacles to progress, anti-development forces, and in some cases, enemies of the State or terrorists.

They even risk death.  Last year alone, some sources suggest that 281 human rights defenders were murdered in 25 countries – more than double the number who died in 2014.  Half of them were working to defend land, indigenous and environmental rights.

We urge States to protect indigenous human rights defenders.  Crimes committed against them must be duly investigated and prosecuted, and those responsible brought to justice.

Indigenous peoples are increasingly being drawn into conflicts over their lands, resources and rights. Lasting peace requires that States, with the support of the international community, establish conflict resolution mechanisms with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples’, in particular indigenous women.

Many States still do not recognize indigenous peoples, and in particular indigenous women and youth still face a lack of official recognition and direct political participation.  Even in States where laws are in place, the Declaration has not been fully implemented.

It is also high time to recognize and strengthen indigenous peoples’ own forms of governance and representation, in order to establish constructive dialogue and engagement with international and national authorities, public officials and the private sector.

The minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world, as set out in the Declaration, must now be met.

These include the rights to identity, language, health, education and self-determination, alongside the duty of States to consult and cooperate with indigenous peoples to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing measures that may affect them.

The Declaration represents important shifts in both structure and the practice of global politics, and the last 10 years have seen some positive changes in the situation of indigenous peoples and greater respect for indigenous worldviews.

But we still have a long way to go before indigenous peoples have full enjoyment of their human rights as expressed in the Declaration.  We call on all States to close the gap between words and action, and to act now to deliver equality and full rights for all people from indigenous backgrounds.”


The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was established in July 2000, is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council, with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. The Forum is made up of 16 members acting in an individual capacity as independent experts on indigenous issues. Eight of the members are nominated by governments and eight by the President of ECOSOC, on the basis of broad consultation with indigenous groups. It is currently Chaired by Ms. Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine.

The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was established in 2007 by the Human Rights Council as a subsidiary body of the Council. Its mandate is to provide the Council with expertise  and advice on the rights of indigenous peoples as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to assist Member States, upon request, in achieving the ends  of  the  Declaration  through  the  promotion,  protection  and  fulfilment  of  the  rights  of indigenous peoples.  It is composed of seven independent experts serving in their personal capacities, and is currently chaired by Albert K. Barume.

For more information and media requests, please contact:

·        For the Special Rapporteur:Ms. Christine Evans (+41 22 917 9197 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Ms. Hee-Kyong Yoo (+41 22 917 97 23 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), or write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

·        For the Permanent Forum:Ms. Mirian Masaquiza (+1 917 367 9607 /

·        For the Expert Mechanism:Mr. Juan Fernando Núñez (+41 22 928 9458 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:

Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)  

You can access this media statement online

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.  #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at


We the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples' Issues (IASG), consisting of over 40 United Nations system entities and other international organizations, wish to use the occasion of the World Day of Indigenous Peoples, to congratulate indigenous peoples and institutions all over the world on this important milestone.

The theme of the occasion: “Ten years of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” is an opportunity to reflect and take stock of achievements, lessons learned and challenges as we continue our efforts to strengthen the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples. 

The Declaration was the culmination of tireless efforts by indigenous peoples and Member States, among others, to design an instrument that would recognize both the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples.

As a result of such efforts, today, the rights contained in the Declaration constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being and rights of the world’s indigenous peoples. Enjoying broad support, these rights include the right to self-determination, and, in exercising this right, the right to autonomy and self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs; the right to development; the right to health; the right to participate in decision-making and to be consulted regarding legislative and administrative measures that may affect indigenous peoples directly; the right to lands, territories and resources; the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, traditional systems of justice and related intellectual property; the right to live in freedom, peace and security;and the right to protection from violence. Importantly, several of the Declarations’ provisions refer to indigenous peoples’ free, prior and informed consent. 

A range of United Nations bodies, mandates and mechanisms actively promote the implementation of the Declaration and action to follow-up on the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, including the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the human rights treaty bodies, the Universal Periodic Review, as well as the Commission on the Status of Women. These bodies and processes contribute to enhanced accountability for respecting the rights of indigenous peoples, offer strategic platforms for creating awareness and addressing salient issues affecting them.

While indigenous peoples have made significant advancements in advocating for their rights in international and regional fora, implementation of the Declaration is impeded by persisting vulnerability and exclusion, particularly among indigenous women, children, youth and persons with disabilities. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a unique opportunity for placing indigenous peoples at the center of development as rights-holders and empowered agents of change. The 2030 Agenda and the Declaration are inseparable instruments for the implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples. The active participation of indigenous peoples in processes such as the High-level Political Forum and other global, regional and national processes, are crucial. The recent decision of the General Assembly to proclaim the year 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, furthermore, presents a unique opportunity to draw attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote indigenous languages and to take further urgent steps at the national and international levels.

Making progress in realizing the objectives of the 2030 Agenda and the Declaration will require significant investments in building strong mechanisms and procedures for indigenous peoples’ meaningful participation, as a central pillar of engagement. This is needed to ensure that public policies, legislation and development plans take indigenous peoples priorities and concerns into account. Strengthening partnerships and cooperation with the private sector and stepping–up disaggregated data collection is equally essential.

The IASG is committed to continuing partnerships with Member States, indigenous peoples’ organizations and all other relevant partners to accelerate progress in the implementation of the Declaration in a meaningful, coherent and sustained manner. The Secretary-General’s UN system-wide action plan for ensuring a coherent approach to achieving the ends of the Declaration serves as the catalytic medium through which the IASG will achieve tangible results. Under their respective mandates, the members of the IASG will intensify their efforts where it matters the most—on the ground—so that Member States and indigenous peoples can rely on strategic, concrete and coordinated support. In working towards this common goal, the IASG commits itself to ensuring that indigenous peoples are visible and that their voices are heard and taken into account.

By working together, we can contribute to the effective implementation of the Declaration and through this, make a transformative difference in the lives of all indigenous peoples.

For more information about the IASG, see

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Green Climate Fund, the entity established by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) to channel funds for climate change mitigation and adaption, is now in the process of finalizing its Indigenous Peoples Policy and the GCF Secretariat has just made a Call for Public Inputs to the Indigenous Peoples’ Policy.

This offers an unprecedented opportunity for indigenous peoples to engage in order to ensure that the Fund has a high-level policy based on international standards and obligations for indigenous peoples’ rights, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC); while acknowledging the positive role of Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge and livelihood systems to adaptation and mitigation, and ensuring our full and effective participation in GCF activities at all levels. Therefore the Indigenous Peoples Policy will be a crucial instrument to guide the implementation of the UNFCCC Agreements, including the Paris Agreement. 

The current draft made available for consultations among indigenous peoples’ organizations captures the various and repeated calls for an IP Policy made by indigenous peoples throughout these years, and key elements contained in various submissions made to the GCF on matters that are relevant to Indigenous Peoples. These range from REDD+, the Environmental and Social Management System (ESMS) to the actual Indigenous Peoples Policy, all of which have been endorsed by a relevant number of IPOs and support groups all over the regions. 

We are hopeful that those that have signed on these submissions would actively collaborate in reaching out to their own constituencies, thereby ensuring a wide dissemination and consultation on this key policy. And that other indigenous peoples’ organizations engage in the consultation as well. 

The elaboration of the Indigenous Peoples Policy by the GCF is also the result of ongoing dialogues and exchange between the Indigenous Peoples Advocacy Team, the GCF, and with CSOs engaged wih the GCF. The IP Advocacy Team on the GCF is composed of the following indigenous organizations from different regions:  Centro para la Autonomía y Desarollo de los Pueblos Indígenas/CADPI, Nicaragua; Indigenous Livelihoods Enhancement Partners/ILEPA, Kenya; Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities/NEFIN; Tebtebba; with the assistance of team consultant Francesco Martone and support NGOs such as IWGIA (International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs) and FPP (Forest Peoples Programme). 

The IP Advocacy Team has been participating in the various meetings of the GCF Board since 2015, conveying concerns and proposals in line with the above, and actively engaging in and informing advocacy efforts of CSOs in matters that are relevant to indigenous peoples. An important outcome in this matter is that in spite of the fact that Indigenous Peoples are not recognized as active observers by the GCF, Kimaren Ole Riamit of ILEPA has been designated by southern CSOs as Alternate Active Observer for the South and this has given the possibility of making the voice of Indigenous Peoples heard at the highest level within the GCF.

Please find the Call for Public Input here. This includes the inputs requested of the secretariat and the indigenous peoples Policy in the Annex. For easy reference, we copy below the specific inputs requested by the GCF Secretariat:

 Inputs requested

The GCF Secretariat is pleased to invite organizations and all entities involved and interested in climate mitigation and adaptation and indigenous peoples rights and issues to provide inputs to the proposed indigenous peoples policy of the GCF.

In particular, inputs are welcome in relation to the following:
(a) Scope and principles - Adequacy of coverage and the guiding principles of the policy;

 (b)  Requirements - Clarity of the requirements of the policy including impacts avoidance and management, mitigation and development benefits, meaningful consultations, free, prior and informed consent, grievance redress, and broader planning in the context of indigenous peoples;

(c)  Roles and responsibilities and implementation arrangements - The roles and responsibilities of GCF, the entities and other stakeholders, and suggestions to improve the policy’s implementation including proposed arrangements;

(d)  Gaps - Identifying any other areas that may have been missed and proposing ways to fill these gaps including opportunities to enhance policy outcomes and drawing from the experiences in policy delivery from similar institutions;

(e)  Engagement - Identifying scope for further engagement of multi-stakeholders to continuously improve the proposed policy.

How to submit inputs/ submissions?

1.     You can either submit on behalf of your organization or a group of organizations . In the case where the inputs are provided on behalf of an organization, the list of organizations should be included in the official submission of inputs. You can send your submission directly to the GCF secretariat via email as one document with the subject line "Call for public inputs – Indigenous Peoples Policy – Response" to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The official submission should clearly indicate:

Full Name
Contact details including telephone and e-mail address Organization’s Focal Point (name, surname and position).

For direct submission to the GCF secretariat, the  deadline for submissions is 12 August 2017 at 23:59 Korean Standard Time.

2.     Otherwise, you can also submit your comments/ inputs to the IP policy to Helen Biangalen-Magata of Tebtebba, Philippines at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Eileen Cunningham Mairena of CADPI, Nicaragua at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. on or before July 30, 2017. Both Eileen and Helen will help collate the comments and inputs and submit them as one document to the GCF secretariat before August 12, 2017.

All submissions should indicate whether the inputs are provided on behalf of an organization or a group of organizations

We remain at your disposal for any request for clarification or further explanation on the GCF and the specific process of consultation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Policy.


Helen Biangalen-Magata

Communications Officer


(Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education)

1 Roman Ayson Rd., Baguio City 2600, Philippines

Tel: +63 74 4447703  Tel/Fax: +63 74 4439459


New York. July 10, 2017. (FIMI-IIWF). From 10 to 19 July 2017, the United Nations High Level Political on Sustainable Development (HLPF), will take place in New York with the aim of monitoring the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The theme of the session will be 'Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.'

Accordingly, the International Indigenous Women's Forum wishes to emphasize the particular importance of the empowerment of indigenous women, youth and children as well as the mainstreaming of gender equality. In addition to this, from FIMI-IIWF should be promoted the access to quality education and health, with cultural relevance, capacity building, knowledge transmission and leadership strengthening. At the same time, our land rights, territory and resources should be also be protected, as well as recognizing and preserving our knowledge, particularly in terms of food security, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, community welfare, cultural and linguistic revitalization, intellectual protection of our knowledge and a world free of violence against indigenous girls, young people and women. To achieve poverty eradication, it is a priority to recognize the contribution of indigenous women and young people for family, local and national economies and to promote opportunities for vocational training and economic initiatives for women and indigenous youth.

To ensure an efficient and informed participation of women and young people in the implementation and follow-up of the Agenda 2030, it is essential to prioritize the actions that promote their individual and collective empowerment and invest in inclusive education, the formulation of leadership, economic autonomy and the generation of capacities in the use of the Agenda.

At the same time, the international framework favours "not leaving anyone behind" and the measures taken at the national level are essential for the reality of the 2030 Development Agenda. It requires a true recognition of the leadership role of indigenous women in transformation processes and as key actors in decisions concerning our social, economic, political and cultural empowerment to achieve a dignified life for future generations.

Finally, we hope that next year at the High Level Political Forum, all actors can present significant progress and results regarding an inclusive, equitable and participatory sustainable development, with relevance and ethnic-cultural sensitivity, in which women, youth and indigenous children are recognized as true subjects of law and actors of change.

About FIMI

The International Indigenous Women´s Forum - FIMI - is a network of women indigenous leaders articulated networks of local, national and regional organizations from Asia, Africa, Arctic, Pacific and the Americas. FIMI brings together indigenous women leaders and activists of the human rights of different parts of the world to agree on agendas, build capabilities, and develop leadership.

Press release based on inputs provided by Chirapaq, Center of Indigenous Cultures of Peru.

New York, 10 July 2017 – Fifteen indigenous peoples’ representatives from various Asian countries, including Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Malaysia are participating in the HLPF this year taking place at the UN Headquarters in New York from 10 to 19 July 2017 under the theme “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”. They are among the 2000-plus participants from various sectors, including governments, private sector and civil society.
“We recognize the potentials of the SDGs in addressing the issues of sustainability and inclusion of those who are at the furthest end of the social spectrum and also acknowledge the high relevance of the 2017 theme for indigenous communities,” said Kanlaya Chularattakorn of Indigenous Women’s Network of Thailand (IWNT). “In goodwill, we therefore hope that we will be heard and provided opportunities to build partnership with governments and all other relevant actors from this early phase of the SDGs.”
Poverty levels have dropped considerably in the past decades in Asia but there are great differences among and within countries with respect to the level of economic development and thus poverty. Countries such as Malaysia and Thailand are now considered middle-income economies while others, like Nepal and Bangladesh, are still classified as low-income economies.
However, like elsewhere in the world, indigenous peoples in all Asian countries have disproportionately higher poverty rates than the national average. For example, while India ranks in the middle of the UNDP Human Poverty Index of countries, the index for India’s indigenous communities as a group is comparable to that of Sub-Saharan countries that are ranked among the bottom 25. National data in many countries fail to reflect indigenous peoples’ situation on the ground, which is mainly caused by the lack of data disaggregation.
One glaring reason for indigenous peoples to remain among the poorest of the poor is because, all over Asia, the vast majority of indigenous communities have lost control over their land and resources and their own development. Many continue to be victims of historical discrimination, which is worsened by development aggression of States resulting in unceasing cycle of human rights violations. Assimilation pressure has been steadily increasing and for some groups their continued existence as distinct peoples is under threat.
In Nepal, many development projects, such as hydropower and road expansion, taking place on our ancestral lands without our Free, Prior and Informed Consent destroy our sacred places, cultural heritage and livelihood security,” stated Tahal Thami of Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP). “In a report submitted by Indigenous Peoples’ Network for SDGs in Nepal on the implementation of SDGs in Nepal, we have emphasized the need for changing development patterns and the need for recognizing our land rights if we are not to be left behind again.”
Recognition of land rights, including through native customary rights, is also a recurring recommendation that indigenous peoples have made on the National Roadmap of Malaysia concerning the implementation of the SDGs.
“Unfortunately, the SDG indicator 1.4.2 on land tenure security is currently classified under Tier III, which means that there is no standard methodology for gathering data and is still being developed,” commented Gam A. Shimray, Secretary General of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP). “This reflects the severity of the status and situation regarding collective land tenure security worldwide.”
“Setting goals can simply be setting something at the far end of the post which is difficult to be reached and keeps on multiplying as we have seen it in the case of the shift from MDGs to SDGs,” Shimray added. “Therefore, it is equally important to set the system that will allow us to reach the goals with institutions, policies and programmes in place, which are most favorable and accessible to indigenous communities and other marginalized groups.”
During the HLPF 2017, 44 countries including 11 countries from Asia have volunteered to be part of the Voluntary National Review process. These countries will be presenting the progress of SDGs planning and implementation at their country levels. Indigenous peoples in Asia are using the opportunity of the HLPF to assert their land rights and be included in the planning and implementation of the SDGs, particularly at the national and sub-national levels.
For more information, please contact:
Patricia Miranda Wattimena, Advocacy Coordinator, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +66902689020
Pallab Chakma, Executive Director, Kapaeeng Foundation, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +880 1717 3322 99
Tahal Thami, Executive Director, Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +9779851177681
Kanlaya Chularattakorn, Coordinator, Indigenous Women’s Network of Thailand (IWNT), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +66 62 593 8399