16 Days of Activism | Raising Voices of Indigenous Women

By Anya Delgado

The first CEDAW Week for Indigenous Women which was convened by the WHRI and the Colombian indigenous women’s group Fuerza Mujeres Wayuu.

Meet Anya Delgado, a Mexican women´s rights defender who has been engaged with different initiatives to raise awareness and strengthen capacities on women and girls´ rights in Mexico and Latin America. She is also a featured blogger for 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women.  

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women. 


Two years ago I attended the “Women´s Human Rights in an Era of Globalization” Institute, organized by the Women´s Human Rights Education Institute (WHRI), where a human rights activist from Colombia shared her dream to develop a course focused on the study of the UN Convention on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Her vision for the course was not another discussion among academics in the capitol—she wanted to hold the course in the sacred territory of her ancestors. Fifteen months later, we held the “The first CEDAW Week for Indigenous Women” in Cabo de la Vela, in La Guajira, Colombia. At the time, the Colombian government was developing a report for the CEDAW committee. We worked with the Colombian indigenous women’s group Fuerza Mujeres Wayuu to create a shadow report that focused on the impact of CEDAW on indigenous women.

While in the sacred Wayuu territory, a seed of hope was planted in the heart of another young indigenous woman in attendance. This Guatemalan human rights defender wanted to take the model of engaging indigenous women around CEDAW to her own country. 

By this chain of events, I was in Guatemala City this past November 25th 2013 for the the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women. WHRI, Asociación Uk´u´x B´e, Tz´ununija´, Tik Na´oj, Sinergía No´j, JASS and other organizations, organized the CEDAW Week for Mesoamerican Indigenous Women. This event was the most important initiative for Guatemalan indigenous women using CEDAW in recent years—I was honored to attend. Surrounded by women from various countries, most of them Guatemalan Indigenous women, we reaffirmed that women´s voices are powerful and their dreams must be taken seriously as visions for improving the world.

The program raised awareness about the rights, mechanisms and procedures established in this international instrument, and also offered a space for indigenous women to analyze CEDAW according to their own experiences and cosmology. Indigenous women criticized CEDAW for not reflecting their specific realities, while still noting that it is a living instrument that can be interpreted according to their individual and collective rights, needs and experiences. Participants agreed to undertake unified actions pursuing different goals using CEDAW, proving once again that it is not a static instrument, but a dynamic action tool for activists to employ.

In 2014, the WHRI will offer several institutes on CEDAW and women’s human rights in Canada, Nepal and Nigeria. Hopefully, a large number of indigenous women will attend. The program will provide a space for reflection, discussion and self-care, allowing participants to developm strong alliances towards the eradication of violence against indigenous women.

Check out the video on our work with Fuerza Mujeres Wayuu:  

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFwomZIEA9I

 

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