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Indigenous Woman Leader Elected By the United Nations Appeals for the Right to Water

Posted on: Friday, May 20, 2011

Keywords: Latin America and Caribbean, Indigenous Rights, Water Rights, UN

MADRE received this press release from Verónica Vargas on behalf of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (known by its Spanish acronym ECMIA)


Contact: Verónica Vargas
CHIRAPAQ Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú

Indigenous Woman Leader Elected By the United Nations Appeals for the Right to Water

  • Indicates that without this element Indigenous peoples cannot live with dignity.
  • Indigenous women of the Americas offered their support in spiritual ceremony.
May 16, 2011— New York, NY—The Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Mirna Cunningham, indicated today that for Indigenous Peoples the right to water is “very linked to other rights, including self-determination, survival, health, land, resources, and cultural and spiritual practices.” This declaration was issued at the opening of the 10th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which will take place in New York City from May 16 to May 27. 

 “The right to water is a human right that is protected by a wide variety of international mechanisms, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. There is a fundamental relation between the access to water and the ability to live with dignity,” Cunningham explained.

Indigenous women from Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru and Canada, members of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (known  by its Spanish acronym ECMIA) and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (IIWF/FIMI), supported the election of Cunningham as Chair of the Permanent Forum by giving gifts from their various cultures and countries including water symbolized by a multicolor vase.

Dr. Mirna Cunningham, who was recently named Chair of the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues for the period 2011-2013, is a recognized leader and activist for the rights of Indigenous women. An Indigenous Miskito woman from Nicaragua, Cunningham was a surgeon and public health specialist, and was the first President of the University of Autonomous Regions of the North Atlantic (URACCAN). She is also an active member of ECMIA and IIWF/FIMI.

Available for Interview:

Tarcila Rivera, President of CHIRAPAQ (The Center for Indigenous Peoples' Cultures of Peru) and General Coordinator of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA)

Otilia Lux de Coti, Representative of Guatemala for UNESCO, Vice President of the Indigenous Forum of the United Nations and Ex-Minister of Culture and Sports in Guatemala

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