Indigenous Women Fight for Their Future, Their Land, Rights & Self-Determination

  • Opinion by Romeo Jara (quezon city, philippines)
  • Inter Press Service

The reality of oppression and exploitation based on gender and their Indigenous identity has been a continuing plight. And on a global scale, the wars of aggression and genocide, land dispossession and resource exploitation being carried out trample underfoot, kill and discriminate women, including Indigenous Women.

In Ogoniland, Nigeria, women and their families are being violently driven out of their land by armed groups backed by big oil companies that seek to extract oil. Just last March 4, heavily armed gunmen shot a farmworker in the area, while six others, including his wife and other community members were impacted.

Against illegal mining, against violence, and for land recognition, quality health care, education, and livelihood, eight thousand Indigenous Women in Brazil marched to assert their political power and create their space in public policies.

In the Philippines, indigenous women have been campaigning to stop the Marcos government’s attempts to change the Philippine constitution to make way for 100% foreign ownership of land and other neoliberal economic policies.

If pushed through, this will make the already vulnerable ancestral lands in the Philippines more open to corporate plunder.

In Northeast India, Adivasi women have been pushing back against the violent counterinsurgency campaign of the State. Since last year the Meira Paibi, a women-led movement in Manipur has been leading the charge against heavy militarization in their communities.

On top of judicial harassment and political persecution, military operations have been ceaseless in targeting Adivasi women and their communities. Nonetheless the struggle for peace in Manipur has persisted.

We live in critical times when everyday we see stories of how Palestinian women have been non-stop at shedding blood struggling for self-determination against Zionist Israeli forces. Even in situations where mothers and their families are only accessing food, Zionist forces have no qualms with dropping bombs and carrying out airstrikes against starving families.

Our Indigenous sisters, mothers, and grandmothers raise their voices, standing side by side with other marginalized and oppressed sectors, crossing multi-cultural barriers, and expressing their indignation against injustice.

The solidarity among women and oppressed peoples is a cause for celebration, and an important reminder of our capacity to fight.

To stand and fight with Indigenous Women means recognizing and respecting their rights, amplifying their voices, and addressing imperialist oppression that systematically suppresses their cultures and autonomy, and perpetuates structural violence and discrimination.

When power is used to sow fear among women, those are the times when power fears women!

Romeo Jara is the Communications Officer, International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), a global network of Indigenous Peoples rights activists.

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