Indigenous Women’s Political Declaration Against Violences Raising our Voices for the Peace and Security of our Peoples and Continent

From the land of Coatlicue, February 29, 2020.

The Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA)

Republished from Cultural Survival, March 23, 2020, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/sites/default/files/Political%20Declaration%208th%20ECMIA%20%281%29.pdf.

In the framework of the VIII Continental Meeting of Indigenous Women of the Americas, recalling that 25 years ago women from diverse peoples and cultures united to make our voices heard and influence the Beijing Platform for Action, we, 250 adult and young indigenous women leaders, wise women, artists, midwives, parliamentarians and former parliamentarians, lawyers, communicators, filmmakers, rights defenders, academics and traditional indigenous authorities from the three Americas have gathered here with the purpose of carrying out an intergenerational assessment of the situation of the exercise of our collective and individual rights as indigenous women and to build articulated and effective solutions, with a strategic roadmap to make progress in changing laws, public policies and national programs, as well as the implementation of international commitments adopted by the States.

The multiple dimensions of the violences experienced by indigenous women in the political, social, cultural, economic, physical, psychological, environmental and spiritual spheres are evident but are made invisible, such as those that are manifest in armed conflicts; during the implementation of extractive projects, for instance, deforestation, mining, oil extraction and hydroelectric plants; in the militarization of lands and territories; in migration and forced displacement; in racism, in discrimination; in the effects of the climate crisis and in the interference of religions alien to our spirituality. We recall that we are historical guardians and creators of knowledge from our spirituality for the preservation and development of the extensive and rich planetary biodiversity, threatened today by capitalist, predatory and patriarchal development.

These violences entail stigmatization, persecution, criminalization, murder and disappearances of indigenous female leaders, defenders and activists. To this, we must add sexual abuse and rape, misogyny, femicide, early and forced child marriage and unions, teenage pregnancy and human trafficking for sexual exploitation, which show the interconnection among the multiple forms of violences in the individual and collective dimensions. As well as the intra-family and inter-community violence that is often justified under the argument of culture or in the name of culture.

Once again, it is evident that for States, indigenous peoples and women can be sacrificed in the face of economic interests and an approach to development based on accumulation, the accelerated escalation of extractivism and structural racism, which cause the absence of disaggregated data and the lack of adequate documentation that make visible the different forms of historical, institutional and systematic violences that impact the lives of indigenous women. Currently, they are seriously increasing due to the imposition of conservatism and religious fundamentalism that threatens human dignity, indigenous physical and spiritual integrity, gender equality, legal pluralism, inter-legality and respect for the individual and collective human rights of indigenous peoples and women.

In the face of this, we indigenous women raise our voices for peace and security for our Peoples and Continent:

1. We denounce crimes against humanity, stigmatization, persecution, criminalization, femicide, disappearances and trafficking. We hold the States responsible for not preventing, punishing, repairing and eradicating them, as well as for not having mechanisms that ensure that indigenous women enjoy a life free of violence.

2. We call upon society in general, indigenous and non-indigenous people, and political and economic decision makers to prioritize the value of the lives of indigenous peoples, women, youth and girls, acknowledging their contributions to humankind and to climate balance, as guardians of the land, forests, seeds, water, cultures, knowledge, languages etc. and life itself.

3. We demand measures to sanction media outlets that promote, reproduce and sustain stereotypes that reinforce racism, discrimination and all violences against indigenous peoples, women, youth and girls. Therefore, we call on alternative media and indigenous communicators to define a communication protocol based on the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples and women in coordination with indigenous peoples' and women's organizations.

4. We demand that the States and specialized health agencies carry out studies on the health situation of the communities with emphasis on indigenous women ravished by mining, oil, hydroelectric, agro-industrial and other extractive mega-projects, with full and effective participation of indigenous peoples’ and women’s organizations.

5. We demand accountability and transparency from the States, based on indicators disaggregated by gender, ethnicity and generation, regarding international commitments, public policy implementation, access to justice and budgetary investment in the struggle for the elimination of violence against indigenous women. As well as, to the indigenous organizations and governments to be accountable regarding their actions taken in reaction to the violences experienced by indigenous women.

6. In the face of mega-projects that are unconsulted or have pseudo- consultations, we urge States to exhaust all forms of dialogue, as an elemental principle that contributes to reaching agreements between States and indigenous peoples as established in the ILO Convention 169, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

7. We urge the CEDAW Committee to adopt a General Recommendation on Indigenous Women, as mentioned in Recommendation 53 of the Eighteenth Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

8. We demand that the States take into account the efforts made by the indigenous women's movement in response to the multiple forms of violences, turning them into public policies with an allocated budget and interdisciplinary and intercultural human resources.

9. We demand that States adopt measures for individual and collective historical reparation for indigenous peoples and women who have been victims of violence, including restitution, healing and compensation defined with the full and effective participation of those affected.

10. We demand that the States and public health authorities respect our autonomy and self-determination in our female body-territory, and we demand that those who do not respect women's right to give birth according to their worldview and spirituality be brought to justice, and that the work of traditional midwives be respected, recognized and promoted. Furthermore, we urge States to make visible the situation of peoples with a disability in indigenous communities, producing statistics disaggregated by gender and disability, as well as to develop and implement policies to assist this population with an intercultural and comprehensive perspective.

11. We reject the coup d'état in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, which has meant a serious setback in the progress of the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and women. Therefore, we call on the international community to be vigilant and committed to the human rights of the entire population in Bolivia. Likewise, we denounce with much concern that the democratic processes in several countries of our American continent are moving backwards, which affects us directly, since the policies that these conservative and racist governments advocate go against our rights as indigenous peoples, women, youth and children.

12. We, the indigenous women participating in this meeting, reaffirm our belief to struggle for our lives in a collective and organized way. We leave with the task of sowing joy and renewed hope, and reestablishing our identity for the healing and full justice of our peoples.

We call on all indigenous women, youth, girls and peoples to celebrate our lives, existence, and projection, to take to the streets, highways, and plazas of each region of the continent on September 5, 2020, on the "International Indigenous Women’s Day, " with the motto: “We Want Ourselves Alive, Free and Safe” “Abya Yala Free from Violences.” ¡Everything with us, nothing in the world without us!

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