Indigenous voices


Foto collage: UN Women
Aili Liimakka LaueGulnara BaimambetovaMartha NtoipoChamathya FernandoBeatrice ShankaFatima GamboaMaissan HassanTsitsina Xavante

Each year thousands of indigenous organizations and civil society activists attend the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the 13th session of which will take place at UN Headquarters from 12 to 23 May. They come from across the world to share their stories and hopes, to exchange ideas, make connections and push for change. Here are a selection of first person accounts of the issues some indigenous women activists are working on. 

How I firmly said NO to an early and forced marriage
In the words of Martha Ntoipo, a 33-year-old Maasai activist from the United Republic of Tanzania. She works for the Pastoralist Information and Development Organization (PIDO), a community development organization which she founded in 2010, which works in the fields of health, women economic empowerment, gender equality and human rights, environmental conservation and research. 

CSW Participant Voices, Brazil, Samantha Ro'otsitsina de C. Juruna

My father told me ‘I want you to be able to help your people one day’
In the words of Samantha Ro’otsitsina de C. Juruna, a 28-year-old indigenous woman of Xavante heritage from Namunkurá community in the indigenous territory of San Marcos, Mato Grosso state, in the Amazonian region of Brazil. Trained in social services, she has a Masters in Sustainability for Indigenous Peoples and Territories. She is a member of the (CNJI – National Committee for Indigenous Youth) and the (REJUIND – Indigenous Youth Network). [en español]

Photo courtesy of Aili Liimakka

We must embrace diversity by accepting our past

In the words of Aili Limakka Laue, a 33-year-old Inuit activist from Kalaallit Nunaat, Greenland (Denmark). She is studying social and political science at the University of Greenland, has been a union volunteer for almost a decade and in 2009 she was elected to the board of the National Inuit Youth Council, Sorlak. She is also a single mother of four. 

Empowering Kenya’s Maasai women through greater voice and rights

In the words of Beatrice Sisina Shanka, a 26-year-old community activist from the Inkinyie community. She works for Il’laramatak Community Concerns (ICC), a non-governmental organization that addresses human rights and development concerns of pastoralist (nomadic livestock herding) indigenous peoples of Kenya, with a focus on women and girls.

CSW participant voices, Mexico

Mayan women build integrated pathway for violence survivors in Mexico
In the words of Fatima Leonor Gamboa, a 28-year-old Maya indigenous defense lawyer who represents women survivors of violence. She works to ensure greater gender equality among Maya communities in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. [También en español]

The views expressed in these blogs are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of UN Women.