The role of Indigenous women in the fight against climate change

During Gender Day at COP23 a side event was dedicated to the role of indigenous women in the fight against climate change. Leaders of the National Organization of Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Women of Peru (ONAMIAP) from the most remote lands of this country showed how climate change is impacting their lives and how they are facing the consequences.

Indigenous women are holders of the vast cultural heritage of their community: they impart traditional knowledge, ancestral practices, farming techniques, and safeguard food security and sovereignty.
Indeed, half of the worldwide famous peruvian food is produced by indigenous women.Moreover, they have wide knowledge of forest’s resources: they know how to take care of silvester biodiversity, evaluating the appropriate seeds to plant according to climatic conditions. “The forest is our market, our hospital and the base of our lives”, underlined one of the leaders.

Therefore, indigenous women are repository of fundamental knowledge even for climate change related matters. This wisdom arises from the close relationship they have with their own land. “It is the mother earth who give us birth and feed us”, said Ruth Flores, leader aymara.

In addition to this, indigenous women bring a peculiar perspective.
“The points of view of women and a men differ a lot when talking about the community: the woman takes care of health, food, family and farming; instead, the man has a more pragmatic vision: for example, when he stands in front of a tree, he does not consider the fruit it can produce, but he just sees a useful material for furniture. In the same way climate change has differentiated impacts on this two categories.

The indigenous leaders believe that those diverse needs should be taken in consideration and Peru is, indeed, one of the few states to have developed an action plan directed to women: the “Gender Action Plan of Climate Change of Peru”.
This program opens to indigenous people to express their requests and proposals concerning climate change. Of course a plan is not enough: implementation is essential and women must truly be involved and not simply considered “a decorative object”, underlines Ketty.

What is being done here at COP23, in this regard? The good news is that the “Gender Plan of Action” was finally approved. It recognizes the role of women in every aspect of climate policies: special attention is dedicated to indigenous women, both in terms of identification of the specific climate change impacts on them, and of their direct involvement as delegates for future Climate Conferences.

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