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  • The Challenges of Gender Equality and Climate Change

    | Photo: Facebook: Women's Earth and Climate Action Network

A leader of ONAMIAP, an Indigenous women’s organization in Peru, says climate change solutions must not exclude women’s rights.

The main concern of the many delegations present at the COP21 Indigenous Caucus in Paris, representing millions of brothers and sisters around the world, is the explicit exclusion of the rights of Indigenous peoples in Article 2 of the Draft Agreement being negotiated by the Parties in Le Bourget.

Although common sense indicates that it is no longer possible to address climate change only from an environmental approach, separated from human rights, women's rights are facing the same exclusion, even within our own national Indigenous organizations.

In Depth: Paris COP21 Climate Talks

The reality is that climate change affects all humanity. But Indigenous women, because of the roles they play in society, are impacted in a differentiated and heightened manner.

For us, the key is the care and protection of glaciers and water sources, because only then we will ensure protecting Amazon rainforests and greater carbon sequestration. Along with Mother Earth, women must defend the water, which is our blood.

For Indigenous women, everything comes down to harmony: we cannot protect the Amazon rainforests if we do not guarantee the care of water. So first, we take good care of the glaciers and we protect the headwaters and the water sources. And the main way to achieve this is to ensure the full recognition and security of our ancestral territories.

In addition, traditional Indigenous women possess key knowledge about the care of our Mother Earth, the water and food sovereignty. However, we do not have enough support from the State.

From the National Organization of Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Women of Peru (ONAMIAP) and other Indigenous women's organizations, we have approached Peru’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Women because both sectors are extremely important in Peru and should be articulated.

For us, it is essential to have a Gender and Climate Change Action Plan in Peru. But we don’t want a beautiful plan just to decorate the library. We need a plan that will be a transformative instrument that allows us to implement the various community adaptation programs that we are developing.

We must also move toward greater coordination between the Indigenous women of the Amazon and the Andes, joining together with the youth and other social sectors, in order to articulate a coordinated vision to the international community. We can no longer walk alone, because if we do we won’t be able to reduce the impacts of climate change, nor stop the climate crisis that we are experiencing right now.

Therefore, we urge the States that the funds to mitigate the effects of climate change are made accessible to Indigenous women. And to everyone who has access to the climate negotiations in the COP21, we insist that they become allies of the global effort to ensure the rights of Indigenous peoples in a binding and progressive global climate agreement.

Gladys Vila Pihue is a Leader of the National Organization of Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Women of Peru (ONAMIAP).


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