The participation of indigenous women in the United Nations General Assembly

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Indigenous Women Leaders

By Mariana Jardim Andrade Leones

             The participation of indigenous women in their societies over the last years, especially in the Latin America has been continually increasing. This achievement is the result of the efforts of International Organizations and Civil Society to promote social awareness and the right to full citizenship of the indigenous population.

            The visibility and presence of indigenous people in international fora is an extremely important step towards ending their historic political and social marginalization. Moreover their participation is fundamental to deflect cultural marginalization and to ensure the integration of future generations. In this sense, the association of indigenous women has had an important role.

            With a shared history of discrimination and violence, indigenous women have joint forces in the fight for their people’s rights and more specifically to their particular quest for gender equality. Today they have attained significant gains in the international and regional arenas.   Internationally, for example, the United Nations Declaration for Indigenous People Rights, of 2007, and the Plan of Action of the World’s Indigenous Women, adopted in the World Conference of Indigenous Women, ensure “the same rights and liberties” for women and men. On the regional level, there is today the Regional Conference for Latin American and Caribbean Women that has achieved important results such as the Brasilia of 2010 and others

            The inclusion and progress made for indigenous people on the international and regional levels have encouraged governments to adopt policies and programs for indigenous people and women spotlighting the necessity of urgent measures to improve women’s conditions. Although this is not enough, it is evidence that their importance was recognized.

            This week in the event “Voice of Indigenous Youth” in the World Conference of Indigenous People, part of the 69th United Nations General Assembly of 2014women leaders from Latina America and the Caribbean had a strong presence. Indigenous Women leaders from the Indigenous Youth Network of Central America and Mexico, the Alliance of Indigenous Women of Central America and Mexico were present.

            In the event they presented their achievements and the main areas of concern for Indigenous women and youth. The mains concerns, between others, included the marginalization of indigenous people in the major urban centers; the urgent necessity to ensure politic and social participation of indigenous people; the social conditions of indigenous women and girls and the need to guarantee equal rights and opportunities for both genders; and the necessity for policies to preserve the indigenous culture for future generations.   

            The active participation of Indigenous Women leadership in the UN General Assembly confirmed their importance in the process of improving the life of indgenous communities as a whole and affirmed the fact that it is unacceptable, today, to pursue any agendas without the women’s participation.