As women leaders of Indigenous Peoples from different regions of the world, we promote citizen empowerment based on the generation of knowledge and the political impulse for new territorial networks based on collective and ancestral knowledge. The role of the Global Leadership School of the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI).

Indigenous Women around the world are writing their history, from Africa and Asia, the Arctic and the Pacific, all the way to the Americas. The road is filled with obstacles, the lessons learned are welcome: today, conducting advocacy work in local, national and regional political arenas is the best tool available to ensure a future of peace and well-being for the Indigenous Communities.

Despite the violences we have experienced and keep experimenting, we are driven by the fact that we remain united in the fight for our rights. Our fighting spirit, the connection with our ancestral worldviews and our collective work in pursuit of a future in harmony with our communities and with nature make for a promising present day. 

In this context, our participation in FIMI’s Global Leadership School is a fundamental contribution to start turning those pages and recognizing ourselves as agents of change.

We are guided by our vision and organization, and especially by our conviction and strength to develop the resilience that we summon every day for the defence of our peoples, territories and environment, and ancestral cultures and collective knowledge.

Defence of girls and youth. As in the case of Esupat Ngulupa Laizar48 years old, from the community of nomadic pastoralists from Tanzania, Africa, and that of Bouba Aei Satu (42), from the Mbororo People of Cameroon, who both experienced firsthand the practice of child marriage and who, each from their own position, promoted changes to eliminate such harmful practices and promote girls’ access to education.

Defence of the land and the environment. Like Filipina Maribeth Bugtong-Biano, from the Igorot People, who at just 35 years old represents her community and carries the values of Inayan, a guiding principle that prioritizes helping her fellow community members and not harming the environment.

“One woman cannot do this alone, we want to support each other and keep learning,” she expressed, referring to her partnership with the Asian Indigenous Women’s Network (AIWN) and the Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education (Tebtebba).

The same cause is embraced by the Chamoru Indigenous People and their leader, Lisa Natividad. She was born in Guam, an island in the Western Pacific which politically is one of the 14 unincorporated territories of the United States of America, and where a military base handling toxic material was established for a long time. According to her worldview, the Earth and everything it produces belong to the whole world and to those who inhabit it. That is why she dedicated herself to activism and to working for the Indigenous Peoples. 

Defence of ancestral knowledge and of the elders. As in the case of Fresia Paola Painefil Calfuqueo (31), q(31), who defines herself as a Lafkenche Mapuche woman, proud of [her] culture, apprentice and bearer of cultural knowledge, willing to continue soaking up [her] cultural knowledge and passing it on to the future generations”.

Fresia lives in Carahue, the ninth region of Araucania, located in southern Chile, and is part of her community organization in Llaguepulli. She is part of the management and mutual support team, focusing on the sustainable ancestral economy, giving value to such ancestral practices as trafkintu (exchange of species and knowledge), in pursuit of kume mogen (Well-being) for the people of her community.

All these experiences speak of a common life journey in which our mothers and other women have been models promoting learning, training and leadership processes of which we are proud today and that we keep strengthening through FIMI’s Leadership School.

What is the Global Leadership School? It is a process focused on training and capacity building, in order to empower ourselves as Indigenous Women for the defence and implementation of our rights, as well as to prepare ourselves for decision-making in different spaces.

The promotion, development and consolidation of our capacities for our participation and advocacy as Indigenous Women in the international arena are key elements to promoting the full exercise of our individual and collective rights. To receive updates on our work for these objectives as well as on our calls and collaborative initiatives, please subscribe here.

If you want to know more about the stories of Esupat, Bouba, Maribeth or that of many others who, like them, have become activists for peace, the defence of the environment and the identity of their peoples, you can read more here.

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