Latest News (170)
The world’s female indigenous leaders point out that natural-resource exploitation is not only unsustainable, but a threat to their lives.
The presence of extractive industries on land belonging to indigenous peoples has degenerated into a state of systematic violence against women, the traditional protectors of the natural environment. From Africa to Latin America, women are evicted from their lands, captured by human trafficking networks, and sexually abused.
Thus asserts the organizing committee of the World Conference of Indigenous Women, held last October in Lima, Peru, and whose representatives yesterday ratified a plan of action to eradicate the violence, discrimination, racism and poverty suffered by indigenous women the world over.
They asked states to draw up a new sustainable, redistributive and solidarity-based economic model. They likewise drew attention to the fact that the participation of local communities in the administration of natural resources has been shown to work effectively, and therefore principles such as that of free, prior and informed consent should be respected.
It was also emphasized that if such forms of violence against indigenous women were continued, traditional knowledge of these natural resources would be lost forever.
The document is being adopted as a plan of advocacy leading up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, Cairo +20, Beijing +20 and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, all of which are promoted from the United Nations Organization itself for the creation of a new world agenda.
‘We indigenous women must participate in all the dialogue and decision-making spaces dealing with these topics and others which concern us and our right to political participation.’ they maintained.
(RANGOON, CHIANG MAI AND NEW YORK, NY)Today marks the launch of an important new report documenting ongoing crimes of sexual violence—over 100 cases documented since 2010, including 47 gang rapes--perpetrated by the Burmese military in ethnic regions of Burma.
The Women’s League of Burma (WLB), consisting of thirteen women’s organizations representing different ethnic areas in Burma, released the report, “Same Impunity, Same Pattern: Sexual abuses by the Burma army will not stop until there is a genuine civilian government, “and is urging an immediate end to these atrocities. The report specifically calls for an end to the prevailing system of impunity that not only enables military perpetrators to evade prosecution, but also fosters a culture of continued and escalating violence.
Events to promote the report are taking place in Melbourne, New York, Washington, D.C., Rangoon and Chiang-Mai.
"To bring justice for the victims of rape and sexual violence, we must take steps to ensure truth, justice and accountability,” notes Tin Tin Nyo, General-Secretary of WLB. “There can be no real reform without stopping all forms of violence, correcting the judicial system, amending the Constitution and enforcing the law to protect women’s lives.”
The report states that despite Burma’s transition to a civilian government, including adoption of a new Constitution in 2010 and elections in 2011, military offensives continue to be waged in ethnic conflict areas. Undeterred by security concerns and access limitations, WLB has reported for over a decade on the Burmese military’s human rights abuses in these conflict areas, including systematic sexual violence.
This report documents multiple instances of post-transition sexual violence involving over 100 women, including 47 gang rapes with victims as young as 8 years old. These crimes are not random events but part of a widespread and systematic pattern of sexual violence. Since 2010, the Burmese government has undertaken limited democratic reforms and conducted peace talks with ethnic groups yet has failed to address these crimes or hold perpetrators accountable.
Both the government and the international community have turned a blind eye to these pervasive human rights abuses. The report outlines a series of actions that are necessary to stop sexual violence crimes, hold perpetrators accountable, respect international law and live up to the recent promise of democratic reform. As recently noted by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the most important step is changing the Constitution, which provides amnesty for and prevents civilian judicial review of all military action.
For further information or press inquiries, please contact
In Cambodia, indigenous families are being displaced from their territories due to the production of sugar cane.
Cambodian indigenous women demanded stop the activities of the Chinese multinational corporations Rui Feng and Lan Feng. They indicate that cultivation and extraction of sugar cane is displacing indigenous peoples from their territories.
According to the portal ruom.net, the Indigenous Peoples’ crops have been burned, their animals have been slaughtered, and their houses have been destroyed. Also, it is reported that thousands of indigenous people have been left destitute. Even, those who raised their voices of protest have been imprisoned.
The indigenous who are displaced are forced to work for these companies, obtaining an average wage of $2.50 per day. In many cases, it is also reported that children are working on sugar plantations.
According to activist group in favor of human rights Adhoc, about 3000 families in the region of Preah Vihear, were affected by the activities of these multinationals.
Through a statement issued last Friday, Cambodian Indigenous Women demanded the implementation of mechanisms to protect the rights of indigenous peoples, and in particular, of indigenous women.
Also, they demanded the effective application of free, prior and informed consent, as well as revocation of land concessions in the region of Bunong.
The complaint is being done within the framework of the celebrations for the Human Rights Day, date in which it is urged to take the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.
We, the indigenous women leaders from eight provinces in Cambodia, together with our advocates from our men leaders, national and regional indigenous peoples organizations, and national NGOs, have come together in this 1st National Indigenous Women’s Human Rights Training on Documentation and Advocacy from 3-6 December 2013 at Phnom Penh, Cambodia, shared and analysed our situation, and have come to the conclusion that our condition of marginalization, discrimination and violence arises mainly from the failure of the Royal Government of Cambodia to respect, protect and fulfill its obligations under national laws and international human rights law. Our lands and resources are being taken away and given to corporations and cronies. Oftentimes, we only know about these when machines come to flatten our farms and homes and clear our forests. This is exacerbated by the failure of the government to implement effectively, judiciously and without delay, the law which allows us to have legal recognition of our collective land rights. Divide and rule is reigning in our communities due to the confusion from the directive to choose individual private land titles over collective land titles. Information on developments coming to our territories, be it economic or social land concessions, dams, mines, researches, land titling, or others, are not available to us in a language we understand, nor given in a manner which respects our traditional decision-making processes, nor in a time which will allows us to process the information and make our own decisions. In almost all instances, we are told that whether we like it or not, our lands will be taken away.
The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) voted for the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 for which it has committed to respect, protect and fulfil our individual and collective rights. The RCG has its Land Law of 2001 and Forestry Law of 2002 which recognizes the collective rights of indigenous peoples to their territory and provides for measures to fulfil these. However, more than 10 years after the legislation of these affirmative laws on our rights, we, indigenous women and our peoples, are fighting for our lives as our lands, territories and resources are being taken away in favor of corporate and state interests. As indigenous women, we suffer disproportionately because we are the main users of forests, keepers of the spirit forests, and responsible for the maintenance of our farms and gardens for the subsistence and welfare of our families. The RGC has assured us under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women to promote gender equality and combat discrimination against women.
On the occasion of the celebration of the 2013 International Human Rights Day, we call on the Royal Government of Cambodia to:
1. STOP granting economic or social land concessions on indigenous territories without the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the affected communities. Information on all such concessions, dams, infrastructure development, mines, research and other activities undertaken in our territories must be provided to us within a sufficient period of time for us to study, assess and decide through our own decision-making processes, and in a language which we can understand. This will allow us to say NO to such developments.
2. SUSPEND the implementation of Directive 01BB. Instead FAST-TRACK the implementation of the Sub-decree on communal land titling by providing resources for the information, education and communication on the Sub-decree to all indigenous communities and for meeting the requirements of the communal land registration; allow for experts, including indigenous experts and human rights organisations, to assist indigenous communities to understand the Sub-decree, meet the requirements, and go through the process.
3. STOP IMMEDIATELY the activities of Rui Feng Co. Ltd. and Lan Feng Co. Ltd. in Pramer Commune in Preah Vihear Province which is continuing with impunity destroying our farms, forests, including spirit forests and sacred sites, despite our continuing protests made known to authorities at the local to the national levels. Up to now, no action has been made to finally resolve our concerns except for the issuance of promises while allowing the corporations to continue to destroy our lands and livelihoods. Related to this is the delay in the process of our collective land registration while the ELCs have been easily granted to the corporations.
4. INVESTIGATE immediately the allegations that SOCFIN is threatening villagers in Bousra Commune, Pichreada District, Mondulkiri Province as they go about their traditional livelihood activities and cheating villagers through violations of the provisions of the contract on share-cropping, denying indigenous women and their families to meet their subsistence needs.
5. REVOKE the Social Land Concession in Bunong territory in Bousra Commune, Pichreada Dsitrict, Mondulkiri Province where provincial authorities have granted such concession to non-indigenous people who have destroyed conservation, spirit forests and graveyards, and which has jeopardized the collective land registration process of the affected Bunong communities.
We call on the RGC to respect, protect and fulfil our rights as indigenous women.
Twenty-nine indigenous women and three men representatives from the Bunong, Suy, Kui, Tampoun, Stieng, Jarai, Chorng, Prov and Por peoples from Kampong Speu, Kampong Thom, Koh Kong, Kratie, Mondulkiri, Preah Vihear, Pursat, Ratanakiri, Steung Treng.
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association
Indigenous Community Support Organization
Indigenous Rights Active Members
Organization to Promote Kui Culture
Geneva — The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has kick-started Beijing+20, a process to assess how far Member States and other stakeholders have come in implementing the commitments made at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995. This action was part of a resolution on the future organization and methods of work proposed by the Commission on the Status of Women which ECOSOC adopted today.
Since 1995, the Commission on the Status of Women has played a central role in monitoring, reviewing and appraising progress achieved and problems encountered in implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the most comprehensive global policy framework to achieve the goals of gender equality, development and peace, which world leaders committed to in 12 critical areas of concern.
At its annual sessions, the Commission has focused on particular priority themes in an effort to accelerate implementation. It led the first five-year review in 2000, when the 23rd special session of the General Assembly adopted a political declaration and further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Commission also conducted comprehensive reviews in 2005 and 2010, which both resulted in declarations on the occasion of the 10- and 15-year anniversaries of the Beijing Conference.
The review and appraisal process launched today by ECOSOC will include: comprehensive national-level reviews to be undertaken by all States of the progress made and challenges encountered; regional reviews to be undertaken by the five UN regional commissions; and a review and appraisal at global level, to be undertaken by the Commission on the Status of Women at its 59th session in March 2015. At that time, the Commission will also assess opportunities for strengthening gender equality and the empowerment of women in the post-2015 development agenda, currently under consideration by UN Member States.
ECOSOC strongly encouraged Governments to continue to support the role and contribution of civil society, in particular non-governmental organizations and women’s organizations, in implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly. In this regard, it called upon Governments to collaborate with relevant stakeholders at all levels in their preparations for the 2015 review.
“This comprehensive review and appraisal process is critical for ensuring accountability by Member States for commitments made to the world’s women and girls nearly 20 years ago in Beijing,” said Acting Head of UN Women Lakshmi Puri. “While much progress has been made, in no country in the world has true equality for women and girls been achieved.”
Ms. Puri stressed the timeliness of the review process, which coincides with the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. As Member States, the UN system and other stakeholders redouble their efforts during the 1,000 Days of Action drive, targets directly related to women’s well-being lag behind many of the others.
“The Beijing+20 review is not only an opportunity to critically assess progress as well as remaining gaps and challenges,” said Ms. Puri. “Even more importantly, we must turn it into a galvanizing process for implementing the norms, policies and measures identified in the Platform for Action, for reaffirming and strengthening political commitment, mobilizing all stakeholders, and making the investments needed at all levels to achieve gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment. UN-Women will be a strong and committed partner to Member States, the UN system and civil society as we work towards this common goal.”
25 November 2013 – Today is an opportunity for each person to recommit to ending the harm being committed against one out of three women, senior United Nations officials said marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
“Violence against women and girls directly affects individuals while harming our common humanity,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day, which this year focuses on the theme of raising awareness by wearing the colour orange.
Mr. Ban applauded leaders who are helping to enact and enforce laws and change mindsets, and paid tribute to the heroes who help victims heal and become agents of change. Among those, Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder of the Panzi hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), who the UN chief met last month, and who in turn, is inspired by the courage of the women he treats.
We, Indigenous women from the seven sociocultural regions of the world, met at the World Conference of Indigenous Women - ‘Progress and challenges regarding the future we want’ in Lima, Peru, from October 28-30, 2013. Our gathering included elders and youth, urban and rural, knowledge holders and healers, activitists and artists. We were honoured by the participation of our allies and supporters, including UN agencies, donors, governments and organizations in solidarity. We shared our stories, struggles, victories, challenges and proposals to move us forward building upon what we have already achieved.
We based our discussions on the contributions of those women who came before us, as well as our aspirations for future generations. We celebrated the strength, beauty and expertise of indigenous women at this gathering and around the world.
Indigenous Women assert our right to self-determination, which encompasses the direct, full and effective participation of Indigenous peoples, including the vital role of Indigenous women, in all matters related to our human rights, political status, and well-being. We endorse the principle: “Nothing about us, without us", and further declare "Everything about us, with us.”
Indigenous Women affirm our responsibility to protect the Earth, our Mother. Indigenous women experience the same pain and impacts from the physical abuse and excessive exploitation of the natural world, of which we are an integral part. We will defend our lands, waters, territories and resources, which are the source of our survival, with our lives. Protection of Mother Earth is an historic, sacred and continuing responsibility of the world’s indigenous peoples, as the ancestral guardians of the Earth’s lands, waters, oceans, ice, mountains and forests. These have sustained our distinct cultures, spirituality, traditional economies, social structures, institutions, and political relations from time immemorial. Indigenous women play a primary role in safeguarding and sustaining Mother Earth and her cycles.
Today, at this time of compounded crises of climate change and impending irreversible loss of biological diversity, Indigenous Women underscore the duty of States to protect the territories of Indigenous Peoples, as critical areas for the social, cultural and ecological recovery and resilience of humankind and the natural world.
For Indigenous Peoples, our lands and territories comprise not only the geographical and physical areas of our lands, waters, oceans, ice, mountains and forests, but also the profound cultural, social and spiritual relationships, values and responsibilities, that connect us to our ancestral homelands.
Indigenous Peoples’ sovereign jurisdiction over our lands, territories and resources is the foundation of our rights to self-determination, self-governance and free, prior and informed consent. State violations and failure to uphold these rights are a primary source of conflicts and overlapping claims by extractive industries, forest concessions, energy programmes, and other harmful projects arising from a failed and exploitative model of economic growth and development.
Indigenous women call upon states to recognize and respect our rights to lands, territories and resources as enshrined in Indigenous customary law, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and other international human rights instruments. This includes our right to freely pursue our own economic, social, and cultural development.
There is an urgent need to implement the rights enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous women are active human rights defenders of all individual and collective human rights of our Peoples. We often bear the burden of social and environmental harms arising from the consistent denial and violation of our human rights and the lack of implementation and accountability of States.
Indigenous women and girls experience multiple forms of discrimination, lack of access to education and health care, high rates of poverty, maternal and child mortality. We are subject to all forms of violence, such as domestic violence and sexual abuse, including in the contexts of trafficking, armed conflict, environmental violence, and extractive industries.
As Indigenous women, we recognize the importance of sexual and reproductive health and education for all ages. This includes our associated rights to culturally appropriate health and education services in our communities, and the right to exercise, maintain, and control our own health knowledge and practices. We call for zero tolerance for all forms of discrimination, and all forms of violence against Indigenous Women and girls, which are among the worst and most pervasive forms of human rights violations perpetrated against Indigenous Peoples.
Finally, we affirm that Indigenous women have knowledge, wisdom, and practical experience, which has sustained human societies over generations. We, as mothers, life givers, culture bearers, and economic providers, nurture the linkages across generations and are the active sources of continuity and positive change.
In regard to forthcoming global events,
We call upon the WCIP to include the proposals in the Alta Outcome Document for the establishment of effective mechanisms to hold States accountable to their human rights and other obligations.
We call upon the WCIP to prioritise the issues and concerns of Indigenous Women in all the themes, organizational arrangements, outcome documents, and to ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous women, including elders and youth.
We call upon States, the UN system, and all relevant actors to ensure the effective implementation of the Plan of Action and Recommendations arising from the World Conference of Indigenous Women, including through the provision of sufficient finantial resources and other support within the frameworks and processes of Beijing+20, Cairo+20 and the Post 2015 Development Agenda.
We thank our hosts, the Indigenous Peoples and the Government of Perú, in particular CHIRAPAQ, Centro de Culturas Indígenas de Perú, and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum, Enlace Continental de Mujeres Indígenas, Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact, Indigenous Women Africa, Alianza de Mujeres Indígenas de Centroamerica y México, Asian Indigenous Women’s Network, Pacific Indigenous Women’s Network, and Indigenous Information Network. Together, we will continue our movement forward.
They demand that the States recognize the authority and competency of their communities in the handling of their lands, territories, and resources.
They pledge to be part of the solution to the food crisis that will consequently result in climate change.
Unanimously, the indigenous women of the world declared that if States did not restore the control that the women had over their land, territories, and resources, it would not only put the communities’ lives in danger, but all of humanity as well.
Through the “Lima Declaration,” endorsed by almost 200 female leaders from Africa, the Pacific, Europe, Asia, Latin America, North America, and Russia, they declared that their role in the preservation of biodiversity and ancestral wisdom of nature is a key piece in order to challenge the impacts of climate change.
“In this moment of serious crisis and impending, irreversible loss of biological diversity, indigenous women emphasize the obligation of the States to protect the territories of indigenous communities,” they demanded.
The declaration, released today, was prepared in the framework of the World Conference of Indigenous Women that met in Lima, Peru, attended by indigenous women from around the globe.
Resources like water, energy, and biodiversity, that contain fundamental economic and strategic value for countries, are located primarily in indigenous territories. This represents a risk for the lives of the communities, especially indigenous women.
A recent study produced by CEPAL shows that in Latin American the growth of mining, forestry, and other industries has resulted in the displacement of millions of indigenous women from their ancestral territories to urban areas.
Nevertheless, this does not mean a change in their life conditions. On the contrary, they already make up part of the most vulnerable populations, having been exposed to various forms of violence such as racism, exploitation of labor, and sexual trafficking.
“Indigenous women experience, in relation to our land, the same pain and effects caused by physical abuse and excessive exploitation,” they asserted in this declaration. Moreover, they warned that they are prepared to defend their communities’ lands, water, and resources with their lives.
The leaders demanded that the states recognize the authority and competency that indigenous communities hold over their lands, territories, and resources. They demanded that all development projects that affect their lives should be made with free, prior, and informed consent of their communities.
Moreover, they indicated that any policy or social program about health, education, or any that focuses on the well being of indigenous women should be carried out with their direct, full, and effective participation. “Nothing about us, without us. Everything about us, with us,” is the protest they adopt in this declaration.
This document, coupled with a plan of action, will be presented in different moments and mechanisms of the United Nations systems focused on the right of women and indigenous communities. The World Conference of Indigenous Communities will be held in 2014 in New York City.
At said conference, they will ask to guarantee the full and effective participation of indigenous women, above all the wise elderly and the young, and that the results of the findings prioritize the concerns of indigenous women.
Indigenous women around the world suffer from various forms of violence, from child marriage and domestic violence to loss of the land that sustains them and their families, according to participants at the World Conference of Indigenous Women held October 28 to 30 in Lima, Peru.
“We speak with the same voice. We have the same problems across the world,” said Agnes Leina, executive director of Il'laramatak Community Concerns, which works to empower girls and women in traditional herder communities in Kenya.
As corporations move in to build roads, open mines and obtain rights to water sources, especially in northern Kenya, “We are being pushed from our land, and the people most affected are the women and children,” she told reporters on the last day of the conference.
Indigenous women also have less access to health care and education, she said. Women often must walk miles to the nearest health center. Those who are seriously ill may die along the way, and pregnant women sometimes give birth before they reach a health-care facility, she said.
Women in those communities “are largely illiterate, so the cycle of poverty goes round and round,” she said.
In Latin America, which is home to more than 23 million indigenous women of more than 670 peoples, maternal mortality and teenage pregnancy rates are higher among indigenous than non-indigenous women, according to a new study published by the U.N. Economic Council for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
The region has made some progress in education, with more indigenous girls completing primary school, but far fewer girls than boys continue to high school or beyond, said Fabiana del Popolo of ECLAC.
“We indigenous women want to stop being invisible and become visible,” said Tarcila Rivera Zea, a Quechua woman from Peru who heads Chirapaq, an indigenous advocacy organization that helped organize the Lima event. Using data from national censuses, as the Latin America study did, women can propose policy changes to benefit themselves and their families, she said.
Some women seek change within their own communities. Elsa Cárdenas, a Quechua woman from the southern Peruvian highlands, called for a change in her community’s rules that would give women voice and vote in assemblies, which are currently open only to men, single women and widows.
In other cases, problems must be tackled on a global scale.
Canada’s northernmost reaches are suffering “extreme impacts” from global climate change, said Ruth Massie, grand chief of the Council of First Yukon Nations.
“We see the effects in our animals, birds and plants,” she said. “Migration routes of our animals have changed, our birds are fewer, our plants are affected by pollutants in the water, which we never had before.”
Those changes add to the toll on health, as people’s diets shift more toward processed foods, she said.
Despite the shared problems, there are hopeful signs in some countries. Myrna Cunningham, of the Center for Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples (CADPI) in Nicaragua, said that 30 percent of her country’s land is now recognized as indigenous territory, although some communities still struggle to gain control over their territory.
That, she said, is a sign that “things can change, and women have a key role to play in that change.”
At the event, which was designed as a lead-up to the 2014 U.N. World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, director of Tebtebba, an indigenous policy and education organization in the Philippines, urged a greater decision-making role for indigenous women.
“We are the ones who carry the burdens of making our families survive and sustaining the ecosystem,” she said. “Our message to the United Nations, governments and corporations is that they should work with us and not against us, because we have solutions to many of the environmental, social, economic and cultural crises that (the world faces) today.”
Over two hundred women from Africa, the Arctic, Asia, Latin America, North America, the Pacific, and Russia are gathering in Lima, Peru from October 28th to 30th during the World Conference of Indigenous Women. They are demand the greater prominence of Indigenous women at every level of decision-making and calling upon governments to dedicate funding to attend to the specific needs of Indigenous women.