Image credit: UN Women. - Photo: 2018

Empower Indigenous Women, Strengthen Communities

By Santo D. Banerjee

NEW YORK (IDN-INPS) – August 9 is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. On this occasion, UN Women calls on each of us to commit to making the voices of indigenous peoples, and indigenous women, louder and more impactful than ever before:

At a time of unprecedented human mobility, indigenous women are on the move too, often fleeing violence, environmental disasters and land encroachments that have eaten into their sources of food, water and way of life. The positive economic spin-offs of migration don’t always reach them. Theirs is a move also for justice, as they mobilize to make their voices heard, demand punishment for perpetrators and reparations to restore their dignity.

This year, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (9 August) will focus on the theme of “Indigenous peoples’ migration and movement”.

UN Women works with indigenous women around the world as they strive for rights, protection and their rightful seat at any table where decisions impacting their lives are being made.

UN Chief’s message

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples:

Indigenous peoples have a profound spiritual connection to their lands and resources.  Yet, increasingly, indigenous persons are migrating within their countries and across international borders.  The reasons are complex and varied.  Some are subject to displacement or relocation without their free, prior and informed consent.  Others are escaping violence and conflict or the ravages of climate change and environmental degradation.  Many migrate in search of better prospects and employment for themselves and their families.

Migration is an opportunity, but it also carries inherent risks.  Many indigenous migrants find themselves living in unsafe and insanitary conditions in urban areas.  Indigenous women and girls experience disproportionately high rates of trafficking and other forms of violence.  Indigenous youth are faced with complex questions regarding their identity and values.

In some countries, indigenous peoples’ territories are divided by international borders.  Cooperation across these borders is important to safeguard their identity, occupations and traditional practices.

Later this year, Member States are expected to adopt a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.  This will establish an international framework for regional and global cooperation.  It will provide a platform to maximize the benefits of migration and support vulnerable migrant groups, including indigenous peoples.  It is essential that the rights and identities of indigenous peoples are protected.

On this annual observance, let us commit to fully realizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the rights to self‑determination and to traditional lands, territories and resources.  And, wherever they live, let us ensure that indigenous peoples enjoy recognition for their contributions and the opportunity to thrive and prosper in peace on a healthy planet. [IDN-InDepthNews – 09 August 2018]

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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