Back to top

Empowering Indigenous women leaders in Bolivia and across Latin America and the Caribbean

In January of 2010, close to 100 Indigenous women leaders from across Latin America and the Caribbean met in La Paz, Bolivia for the conference Building Strategic Partnerships for Governance and Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean ("Warmis KAY Syuynchiqta Awanchiq") organized by MADRE partner organization the International Indigenous Women's Forum (FIMI).

Reforms in Bolivia's Constitution (enacted in February of 2009) call for gender parity in all branches of government. In respose, MADRE and FIMI have partnered with Bartolina Sisa, the largest Indigenous women's organization in Bolivia, to equip women leaders with the skills they need to succeed in local and national government.

MADRE's Program Coordinator, Natalia Caruso, attended the conference:

"The conference has been very successful in sharing experiences and strategies in how to really strengthen the political representation of Indigenous women in Latin America and Caribbean countries. A lot of Indigenous women from the region came to this meeting and there was also a strong presence of Indigenous women from here in Bolivia.

We also went to the traditional ceremony of Indigenous people that was part of Evo Morales's inauguration ceremony. It was very interesting that people we interviewed at the conference talked about Evo Morales as not being just a president of Bolivia, but as being the president of Indigenous people. This is a very strong message and I think it's very nice how the image of Evo Morales allows many people to see the change that they want to see in their own country."

The conference resonated deeply with the Indigenous women parliamentarians who were in attendance. It provided a rare opportunity for women from across Latin America and the Caribbean to meet in a forum dedicated to the exchange of their ideas and experiences. They discussed their role in empowering women at the local, national and international levels and the best methods of changing power structures within each of their countries to give more of a voice to women leaders.

Watch the video or check out the pictures from the event.