MADRE Statements

Indigenous Women of the Americas Reclaim their Rights before the United Nations

Posted on: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Keywords: Latin America and Caribbean, Indigenous 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 Women of the Americas Reclaim Their Rights before the United Nations

  • Members of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas united their voices in New York City.
  • They demanded that States include Indigenous Peoples in policies and programs and that their rights as Indigenous People be recognized.

May 19, 2011—New York, NY—The Indigenous Women of North, Central and South America gathered today in New York City at the 10th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, worried about the critical situation of violence, death, racism and loss of cultural identity that thousands of Indigenous women suffer daily. These women are members of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA), a network that promoted the training of women leaders for the defense of their lands.

Renilda Martínez, a Wayuu woman from Venezuela, expressed her concern for the “extermination of Indigenous women that continues in the shadows and without trustworthy data”. Martínez declared that the principal causes of death and violence against women are malnutrition, lack of access to maternal health care, domestic violence, illiteracy, militarization and water contamination.

On behalf of South American women, she asked the assembly to consider the issue of violence against Indigenous women as a priority in the upcoming sessions. She also requested that culturally appropriate methods for documenting cases of violence against Indigenous women and people be developed.

Rosalee Gonzáles, member of the Xicana Indigenous Network and delegate for the Enlace Norte, asked the government of Canada to recognize the situation of Unrecognized Indigenous peoples, of the displaced and their descendents. “The Unrecognized Indigenous groups do not have the same rights and are more vulnerable to discrimination, especially in their right to lands and the preservation of their culture, which contributes to the cultural genocide of these groups,” Gonzáles said.

For its part, the Indigenous youth of ECMIA asked the states to create policies, programs and plans directed toward Indigenous youth and children for the revitalization of their cultural identity, languages, and access to training opportunities.

They reported that in Mexico many cases of violations against minors are not brought to justice. Similarly, they affirmed that in Chile there are numerous arbitrary detentions and torture of minors on the part of the police, and as such, they requested amendments to the Anti-terrorist Law in this country.

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)

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