The Asian Indigenous Women’s Network (AIWN) and the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN: Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara), in partnership with Rights & Democracy have prepared this information kit to highlight the work of indigenous women who are acting at the local, national and international levels to have their rights respected. As a number of challenges lay ahead in the Second Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (2005-2014), it is an appropriate time to explore not only the issues that have an impact on indigenous women in Asia, but also to bring to light the strengths and hopes of these women. The kit proposes possible avenues for action to enable indigenous women to take full advantage of legal instruments, and international fora and mechanisms that may be useful in furthering their rights.
Indigenous women have always been part of their peoples’ struggles at all levels: locally, nationally and internationally. In spite of their immeasurable contributions to society, indigenous women are still victims of a double marginalization that is a result of them being women and being indigenous. They are disproportionately affected by extreme poverty, trafficking, illiteracy, lack of access to ancestral lands, non-existent or poor health care and violence in the private and the public spheres.
Challenges of the New Decade
Over the last two decades the situation of indigenous peoples worldwide and the violations of their human rights has become a key issue in the international arena. This increased attention is reflected in several activities at the level of the United Nations: the establishment in 1982 of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP), the proclamation by the General Assembly of the International Decade for Indigenous People (1995-2004), the establishment of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2000, the creation of a Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People in 2001, and the proclamation of a Second International Decade for Indigenous People (2005-2014).
While it is true that the First International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, which ended in 2004, created several spaces, including the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing, which allowed for greater participation by indigenous peoples at the international level, the situation of indigenous peoples still requires the attention of the international community. For example, the First International Decade did not stem the exodus of thousands of indigenous people pushed off their lands by the “development” of others (mining and oil companies, land settlement), by armed conflict or famine. Indigenous women inevitably pay a higher price when there is displacement and dislocation, whether they remain behind in the communities that men have deserted or flee to cities where they find themselves isolated from their family and cultural networks. They usually suffer the most from the violations to the integrity of their peoples and family, and are prime targets for violence resulting from the militarization of their territories.
Seminar on Indigenous Women and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), organized by AIWN, 2005.
Indigenous women in Asia were particularly active during the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. At the local level, they built and strengthened their own community organizations and allied themselves with others to form networks. AIWN played the lead role in bringing together indigenous women from all over the world during the Beijing World Conference on Women in 1995. The Beijing Declaration of Indigenous Women has become a framework for understanding the situations, perspectives and issues of indigenous women. There are other networks presently working on these issues, including the Gender Desk of the Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), and the Asia-Pacific Indigenous Youth Network.
The Second Decade of the World’s Indigenous People began on January 1, 2005. Its five main objectives are relevant to indigenous women:
Promote non-discrimination and inclusion of indigenous peoples in processes regarding laws, policies, resources, programmes and projects;
Promote the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in decisions which affect their lifestyles, land and culture as well as considering the principle of free, prior and informed consent;
Redefine development policies that are culturally appropriate;
Adopt targeted policies, programmes, projects and budgets for the development of indigenous peoples with an emphasis on indigenous women, children and youth;
Develop strong monitoring mechanisms and enhance accountability at the international, regional and national levels regarding the implementation of laws, policies and operational frameworks for the protection of indigenous peoples.
Several activities have been scheduled for the Second Decade, including the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the international level, strengthening regional cooperation between international and regional human rights mechanisms, and at the national level, further development of activities in cooperation with States, United Nations country offices and indigenous peoples to improve the human rights situation of indigenous peoples.
AIWN was established in 1993, the result of the First Asian Indigenous Women’s Conference held in Baguio City, the Philippines. It was created to support, sustain and help consolidate various efforts of indigenous women in Asia. Its goals are to enable indigenous women to empower themselves by becoming aware of their rights as women and as indigenous peoples, and to help them develop their own organizations or structures for empowerment.
AMAN was established in 1999, the result of the First Congress of the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago. AMAN’s mandate is to work for the benefit of the indigenous peoples of the Archipelago. Its membership includes more than 1000 communities and 16 provincial level indigenous organizations. Since the Third Congress of the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago, held in March 2007, AMAN has increased its commitment to indigenous women’s issues and projects with the creation of a directorate specifically focusing on indigenous women’s issues.
Rights & Democracy is an independent Canadian institution created by an Act of Parliament in 1988. It has an international mandate to promote, advocate and defend the democratic and human rights set out in the International Bill of Human Rights. In cooperation with civil society and governments in Canada and abroad, Rights & Democracy initiates and supports programs to strengthen laws and democratic institutions, principally in developing countries. In its programming, it has always advocated for the recognition and the rights of indigenous peoples.
Hmong indigenous women from the Bac Ha Community in Vietnam wearing their traditional clothing.
How to Use this Tool
www.enlace.nativeweb.org), and the Quebec Native Women (www.faq-qnw.org), at the end of the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. A second revised edition that included an additional sheet was published in 2006. Given the success of the kit, Rights & Democracy, AIWN and AMAN decided to work together to adapt this kit for indigenous women in Asia.
Designed primarily for member organizations of AIWN and AMAN, these information sheets can be used by anyone who wishes to share information and learn more about the situation of indigenous women and the work of AIWN and AMAN. This kit was designed to allow your organization to add information sheets about your country or about an issue or experience relevant to you. In addition to the presentation sheet, the following information sheets were designed to be photocopied and widely distributed:
Portrait of the Indigenous Women of Asia
United Nations Instruments and Systems for the Protection of Indigenous Women’s Rights
International Instruments of Specialized Institutions and Regional Mechanisms for the Protection of Indigenous Women’s Rights
Indigenous Women, Biodiversity and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
Progress and Challenges for Indigenous Women in the Second Decade
Development Aggression and Indigenous Women in Asia
Indigenous Women and Militarization
Portrait of Indigenous Women in Indonesia
Development Aggression and Indigenous Women in Indonesia
These sheets can be used in various contexts: during training sessions with organizational leaders, as materials for capacity-building sessions, to promote the regional network and anytime there is a need for information on the situation of indigenous women. They can help to further discussion by providing information and asking questions and raising issues relevant to indigenous women. They also include useful references for further information and suggestions for action.
This kit is available in English, Indonesian and French. It is also posted on the following web sites:
English Version: Asian Indigenous Women’s Network (AIWN) / Tebtebba: No. 1 Roman Ayson Rd., 2600 Baguio City, Philippines
Indonesian Version: Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN) Head Office : Jalan B, No. 4, Rawa Bambu 1, Pasar Minggu, Jakarta Selatan, Indonesia.
Project Coordinators: Micheline (Mika) Lévesque, Regional Asia Officer, Rights & Democracy; Ruth Sidchogan-Batani, AIWN; Sue-Ellen O’Farrell, AMAN.
Research and Writing: Ruth Sidchogan-Batani, AIWN; Sue-Ellen O’Farrell, AMAN; Antonio José Almeida, Legal Analyst, Lorelou Desjardins, Rights & Democracy.
Editing: Angela Laird; Ruth Sidchogan-Batani, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, AIWN; Micheline Lévesque, Lise Lortie, Rights & Democracy; Sue-Ellen O’Farrell, AMAN.
Reading Committee: Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Eleanor Dictaan-Bang-oa, AIWN; Joji Carino, Tebtebba; Bernice Aquino-See, Forum Asia; Emilianus Ola Kleden, AMAN.
Production Support: Anyle Coté, Officer, Special Events and Publications, Rights & Democracy.
Design: Jopie Peranginangin, AMAN.
Special Thanks: Rukka Sombolinggi who initiated and assisted in the making of this information kit, Raymond de Chavez, Publications Unit of Tebtebba for technical support; Vernie Y. Diano, Innabuyog, BAI & AIWN; Suraporn Suriyamonton, IAITP, AIWN; Sumshot Khular, CARD &AIWN; Mauricio Malanes, Tebtebba; Mina Setra and Devi Aggraini for their assistance on the Indonesian sheets, and the following staff from the AMAN National Secretariat: Erasmus Cahyadi and Sulistiono who provided legal advice, Snick, George S, Yuyun Indradi and Y.L Franky who provided valuable data and information, Ratna Setyawati and Asep Suhendar for the administration and financial aspects of this project, Senda for his invaluable assistance.