“Voices Leading The Way: Experiences of Intersectionality Between Environmental Justice and the Economic Empowerment of Indigenous Women” is a study that stems from a diploma program that sought to contribute to the development of the capacities, abilities and potential of indigenous women to strengthen their economic autonomy based on principles of environmental responsibility and justice.
Six indigenous women community researchers from Mexico, Guatemala, Tanzania, Kenya, Bangladesh and India participated under the coordination of the program “Research and Issues of Impact on the Lives of Indigenous Women” of the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI), adopting the indigenous methodology of “Learning by doing” for a certification program. Said program has been accredited by the Instituto de Estudios Internacionales y Europeos “Francisco de Vitoria” of the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, and by the Indigenous Intercultural University (UII), a flagship education and training program of the Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC).
The indigenous community researchers have registered and processed pertinent information on how responsible economic ventures are promoted and generated while promoting environmental justice in their respective countries. FIMI has synthesized the process in a single document, understanding that in order to promote the empowerment of indigenous women, one of the priorities is to reaffirm the importance of the traditional knowledge and ancestral wisdom that they possess, and to understand empowerment as a holistic process where women are the ones empowering themselves, integrating the individual and collective dimensions.
The diploma program proved to offer a stimulating environment for the synthesizing and exchange of knowledge and spirituality, where indigenous women could grow and proactively fulfil the leadership roles they assume in their respective community.
For indigenous women, economic empowerment is linked to the struggle for land, territory and natural resources, and constitutes a demand for the achievement of environmental justice. The program served as a platform for the exchange of knowledge on best practices for the promotion and defence of the economic empowerment of indigenous women and of their right to access environmental justice.
Other cross-cutting aspects of the certification include the intercultural and interdisciplinary approach, the differentiated and intersecting perspectives, the importance given back to traditional knowledge and ancestral wisdom, the reflective and critical inter-learning processes and the collective construction of knowledge based on the exchange of experiences, symbols, interpretations and concepts.
In their reports, the authors sought to reflect and reclaim the strength and wisdom of women, accepting that it is time to leave behind those studies where they are mainly portrayed as victims. They have demonstrated the importance of highlighting the roots, knowledge and contribution of Indigenous Peoples to empower them and to start a healing process for the communities that have been severely violated by colonialism and capitalism.