Defending Our Human Rights as Indigenous Women Project
The U.S. Department of State hosted its 10th annual Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) project competition in 2020. “Training Indigenous Women for the Defense of their Human Rights” was one of the winning projects of the competition and was implemented in collaboration with Cultural Survival and coordinated by Diana Pastor (Maya K'iche') and Adriana Hernandez (Maya K’iche’) from Guatemala, both alumni of the Department of State educational programs and Cultural Survival staff members. From March 19 to June 30, 2021, Cultural Survival provided capacity building sessions on communication tools and international human rights to 24 Indigenous women from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, in a virtual format. The participants were activists and leaders in their home communities and had the opportunity to learn from human rights and communications experts, as well as to exchange their experiences and knowledge. Many of the participants had already demonstrated interest in promoting human rights in their communities, but obstacles in accessing training and receiving recognition and visibility had restrained their efforts and dismissed their results.
The project achieved the following goals:
- Strengthened Indigenous women’s legal and political understanding of what their individual and collective rights are as women, members of Indigenous communities, and citizens of Guatemala, Mexico, and Honduras.
- Built capacity on how they can exercise and defend their human rights, depending on their local context.
- Participants gained technical skills on how to effectively document and communicate violations of their individual and collective rights.
- Created visibility for women with an international audience tuned into human rights work.
- Helped Indigenous women rights defenders to build a network of local and international individuals and organizations as potential partners in the defense of their rights.
- The participants have become role models for other women who are also interested in becoming human rights activists and have produced several materials including podcasts, videos, and articles, which we share below.
As a result of the project, the following articles and photo essays were produced:
- Colectiva Tuxinem by Mactzil Camey
- Our profound memories of violence and repression by Mercedes Calel
- Catalina Guzmán: A midwife from the jungle of Chiapas Mexico by Amalia Pérez
- Ricardo Flores Magón, a popular Indigenous council that resists and fights by Nayelli López
- The lessons in my language by Angie Milady López
- Women from San Pablo Cuatro Venados resist and defend their ancestral lands by Luna Negra
- Traditional weavers of the Oaxaca resistance against Covid-19 by Bety Piche
- Nine years of resistance against widening highway of Tepoztlán Morelos by Angélica Ayala
- Young women and decolonization by Diana Pastor and Adriana Hernández (CS Staff)
The following videos were also produced by the participants:
Interview with Paulina Tun, a Mayan Midwife by Leticia May
Indigenous languages situation in Mexico by Silvia Jacinto
Interview on the revitalization of the Xhidza language by Estrella López
Interview with lawyer Gloria Elvira on violence against women by Brenda Xitumul
Interview with workshop instructor of Nahuat language by Patricia Franco
Feminist maternities by Nancy Vianey Vásquez
Interview on racism with Sandra Xinico by Sucely Puluc
Message on violence against women by Gilda Maricela Tucubal
The women also produced radio programs and a podcast during the course of the trainings:
Program on decolonization - episode 1
Program on decolonization - episode 2
Program on decolonization - episode 3
Program on decolonization - episode 4
Program on decolonization - episode 5
Program on decolonization - episode 6
World Youth Day and Indigenous Young activist by EntreMundos and Cultural Survival
Top photo: Yesica Matías, Radio Xilotepek, Jalapa, Guatemala.