This statement came from Jandi Craig, a member of the White Mountain Apache indigenous community and a United Nations scholarship recipient, during the opening event of the 2023 edition of FIMI’s Indigenous Leadership School.
The tenth edition of the Global Leadership School of Indigenous Women launched on Friday, February 17. At the opening event, Jandi Craig, leader of the White Mountain Apache Indigenous Community, in Arizona,, reflected on the work of Indigenous Women as experts of the future, “because we carry the future within us”. “We are experts on what our indigenous communities need. We are experts on what it means to be an Indigenous Woman,,” Craig declared, adding that FIMI is the mechanism that brings together, through its Leadership School, experts from around the world to present their ideas.
“Right now, human rights defenders are facing new challenges and, as you know, Indigenous Women play an important role in this.” These words were pronounced by Columbia University professor and executive director of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Joseph R. Slaughter, who spoke of the participation of Indigenous Women, not only from the beginning of the Indigenous movement, but also in the history of Human Rights. As he stated, “Indigenous Women have been the foundation of their peoples walking on mother earth, raising generations that nurture and sustain the spirit of resistance and hope.”
Building on these words, Elsa Stamatopoulou, director of the Indigenous People’s Rights Program at Columbia University, shared with the participants the key concepts for the development of the 2023 edition of the Global School: persistence, resilience and a vision for life. Professor Stamatopoulou also mentioned the School’s different elements, including the historical review of the struggle of the indigenous movement; specific seminars on women’s rights and the resistance of Indigenous Women, as well as on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and, finally, spaces dedicated to “well-being” and the sustainability of this program.
“We are impacted by the same reality: that of climate change, racism and the lack of opportunities,” declared Teresa Zapeta, FIMI’s executive director, at the closing of the event. She further explained that FIMI is the global mechanism that arises from the need to connect the Americas, Africa, the Arctic, the Pacific, and Asia globally, so that we do not walk thinking that we are alone, because “we all come from the same fabric”. Zapeta also thanked the allies of the program in her words: Columbia University and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. To close the event, the traditional music group Sk’ayuj Jlumaltik, from Chiapas-Mexico, played in the Tseltal language.
The Global Leadership School of Indigenous Women is integrated this year by 17 Indigenous Women leaders, participating from North America, the Pacific, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The program initiated on February 13, and will go on until May 2023, when each participant, with academic support, will develop an advocacy plan which will later be implemented until December of this year.
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