21 March, 2017

How does climate change affect indigenous women?

Indigenous women are calling on women’s ministries to promote their participation in climate change policies.

Foto: Bruno Takahashi

Indigenous women inhabit the most vulnerable ecosystems to the impacts of climate change. This was pointed out by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, who on Thursday participated – along with prominent indigenous leaders from around the world – in a dialogue at UN headquarters in New York. The purpose of the debate was to elucidate how climate change affects the economic development of indigenous women.

Indigenous women depend entirely on their traditional livelihoods and their connection to their lands, territories and natural resources to survive,” said the Rapporteur. Activities such as agriculture, fishing and handicraft making, among others, are reduced as a result of excessive rains, changes in migratory patterns of animals, and the disappearance of biodiversity.

The Rapporteur recommended that ministries of women around the world promote gender equality in the implementation of policies on climate change, with particular attention to the concerns and proposals of indigenous women.

Peruvian activist Tarcila Rivera Zea highlighted how these changes in the environment force hundreds of thousands of indigenous women to move from their communities to the cities. “Climate change distorts our ecosystems and also distorts our opportunities to continue living and developing in our communities,” she said.

The president of CHIRAPAQ also pointed out that indigenous women’s traditional knowledge of nature should be seen as a valuable resource by states that can help address climate change.

“We have the capabilities and the proposals and what we want to develop them along with the States and our societies,” he concluded.

In the last twenty years, indigenous women have been organized at local, national and international levels to address this and other issues that affect them in networks such as the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Partnership on Climate Change, Forests and Sustainable Development, the Continental Liaison of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA) and the International Forum of Indigenous Women (FIMI), networks that were present in this world event.

The dialogue, which was attended by more than 200 country delegates, was held during the sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women, known as CSW61, March at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.