“We must recognize the capacities of indigenous women and empower them in the design of public policies,” said Tarcila Rivera Zea, member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), yesterday in Panama. The indigenous activist made this remarks to ministers from Latin America participating in a regional consultation, organized by UN Women.
This international event is the prelude to the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61), to be held in New York from 13 to 24 March 2017, and whose priority theme is women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.
According to Rivera Zea, armed conflicts, the extension of extractive industries into indigenous territories, and the transformations in the economic systems – which accelerate migration and displacement from the countryside to the city – are some of the forms of violence faced by indigenous women around the world.
Despite living in this state of constant vulnerability, Latin American countries have been unable to collect data on how many indigenous women there are, where they are and what their situation is. This lack of information impedes the development of strategies to improve the social and economic conditions of indigenous women. “Our statistical invisibility reflects the colonialism, racism and sexism of our countries,” she said.
Regarding employment, Rivera Zea recalled that women, and especially indigenous girls, are part of a huge labor force whose work is not recognized and paid for, and whic range from housework to farm work. “However, indigenous women show no access to decent work, social benefits and fair income” she said.
The also president of CHIRAPAQ and the International Indigenous Womens Forum (FIMI/IIWF), said that public policies aimed at indigenous women are “weak andinsufficient” and said that they “do not contribute to the empowerment of women as agents of change and bearers of rights“.