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International Day of Indigenous Peoples

There are around 476 million indigenous people living in 90 countries across the world. They represent about 5% of the world's population. They are some of the more underprivileged and vulnerable peoples, as they make up 15% of the world's extreme poor. In order to raise awareness of the needs of these communities, every August 9th commemorates the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations held in Geneva in 1982.

Intersectionality and violence against indigenous communities

As covered by Soberanía Salud magazine, in recent years, Argentina has moved quite a way forward in terms of rights for indigenous peoples and even more for indigenous women. This was possible thanks to our country's adherence to international treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, article 12), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (article 12), the American Convention on Human Rights (articles 1.1 and 26), the American Declaration of the Rights of Man (article XI) and the Protocol of San Salvador (article 10).

Nevertheless, indigenous communities still suffer the consequences of this exclusionary system on a daily basis. For example, the repression against those who protest to protect their lands and clean water in the North of our country —where foreign private companies are given access to use and exploit indigenous lands to generate electricity— completely violates indigenous peoples' rights and citizenship. They are not consulted beforehand and their consent is neither given nor even asked for.

Additionally, indigenous women suffer from intersecting inequalities: on top of gender discrimination, many other factors come into play such as ethnicity, religion or beliefs, health status, social standing or class, age, sexual orientation and gender identity. This accumulation of types of oppresion (that is to say, their intersectionality) worsens and multiplies the discrimination they face. For example, Wichí women tend to decide to give birth at home because professionals at healthcare centers don't speak their language and their right to receive information on the different childbirth delivery options is violated.

An indigenous leader: Clara Chilcano's work

Clara Chilcano was born in Colonia Dolores (province of Santa Fe) on May 8th 1958. Her parents are both Mocoví artisans and gatherers. Her father was also an axeman and a spiritual guide. In her youth, she started participating in the first meetings for her people's community reorganizing.

She worked in the drafting of an indigenous bill for the province of Santa Fe in 1993, which was enacted into law some time later. As explained in an article from Universidad del Litoral: “A year later, she became part of the Organization for Indigenous Peoples in Santa Fe (OCASTAFE), where she promoted appreciation for indigenous lives and their collective memory as well as the recovery of each community's history and the strengthening of community organizing. She worked to create better living conditions among communities and fostered several programs to ensure access to education, healthcare, social security, environmental safety and their rights to their lands.”

In 2002, she advocated for debates and acted as an advisor for the committee in charge of drafting what would become Law No. 12,086, which granted indigenous lands as reparation to native communities in Santa Fe. Seven years later, she was heavily involved in the creation of the Registry of Indigenous Communities in Santa Fe (established by Decree No. 1,175). She is also a member of the Indigenous Women Leaders Organization.

Have you ever heard of indigenous feminisms?

According to Modii, indigenous feminisms can be described as a school of feminist thought in which collective thinking is prioritized. It fights for collective rights and it's different from western feminisms, which are based on individuals and their exclusion.

Indigenous feminists acknowledge that some patriarchal ideas exist within their communities that are sexist and exclude women, so they are to be transformed. Their priorities are achieving political participation as a community and making effective their collective right to the land and its natural resources as well as their right not to be victims of violence regarding their territories nor against their bodies. Another important characteristic is the intergenerational perspective of their fight.

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