Mexico

Partner: Semillas and the National Network of Indigenous Women Weaving Rights for Mother Earth and Territory (RENAMITT), both based in Mexico

Goal: Protect traditional lands from being developed by the Mexican government by supporting land rights training for an emerging national network of Mexican Indigenous women who are advocating for their rights to land and property.

Projected Impact: Indigenous women in 4 states across Mexico make significant strides in securing rights to their traditional lands, which are being undermined by new land reform laws in a time where high rates of men are migrating to cities, leaving land vulnerable to land grabs.

Launch date: Q3, 2014

Meet the Women Leaders

Semillas

Semillas (Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer A.C.), based in Mexico City, is the largest fund dedicated to women’s causes in the country. Semillas works closely with small and emerging women’s organizations and women leaders in the common goal of improving the status of women in Mexico.

Silvia Pérez Yescas, RENAMITT

Silvia, a Zapoteca-Chinanteca from Oaxaca, says that “Nobody dared to talk about [indigenous women's land rights]," but that with the support of this partnership, she "was able to break the silence in my region. I’ve also been able to help other indigenous sisters to claim their land rights and advocate for the inclusion of women in communal assemblies, where key decisions are made.”

At a Glance

Since 1990, Semillas’ grantmaking has supported 68 organizations and 95 projects in 18 Mexican states.*

 

A recent survey in Mexico reported that only 3% of all Mexican philanthropic funds are directed to women.*

 

In 2009, out of the 12.3 million women living in the rural sector in Mexico, only 5% had land rights.*

 

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The Project:

In 2013, WEA and Semillas began a multi-year partnership to support Mexican women-led grassroots environmental efforts through small grants and strategy sessions. Through this support, Indigenous women leaders have come together to promote indigenous women’s land rights in 5 Mexican states.

This work is critical since, despite the fact that women play an increasingly central role in environmental protection and management in Mexico, they are typically left out of decision-making the the implementation of environmental policies. Furthermore, gendered approaches to policy are rarely prioritized in environmental and sustainable development projects, and financial opportunities that address environmental initiatives in Mexico do not reach women or women-led projects.

The partnership supports the National Network of Indigenous Women Weaving Rights for Mother Earth and Territory (RENAMITT), a network of Indigenous women leaders promoting women’s rights to land in 5 Mexican states, including: an Odami community in Chihuahua, a Mixteca community in Guerrero, Wixarika communities in Jalisco, a Chinanteca community and an Ayuujk community in Oaxaca, and an Otomi community in Veracruz.

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Each Indigenous woman leader designed and is implementing activities to promote women’s land rights in a way responsive to the local needs in her community.

Workshops have been held using the Iguatlanesti model, which focuses not only on women’s rights and land rights, but also on personal development, physical development, spiritual development, cultural history and self-esteem.

Impact:

  • Through workshops, site visits, legal aid, training, and policy advocacy, RENAMITT has reached over 600 people — among them community promoters, traditional authorities and local justice officials — to advocate for Indigenous women’s land rights.
  • A municipal women’s institute was created in an Ayuujk municipality in Oaxaca in order to better respond to local women’s needs.
  • Three radio spots were produced around agrarian law, land rights, and women’s roles. The first focused on the rights of Indigenous women in Mexico to own land; the second focused on the expropriation and dispossession of Indigenous lands as a result of federal reforms; the third specifically highlighted indigenous communities in Oaxaca and women’s access to land.

 

About Our Partner

Semillas (Sociedad mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer A.C.) is an organization based in Mexico City that works closely with small and emerging women’s organizations and leaders to improve the status of women in Mexico. Semillas is not looking to provide a short-term cure for the conditions of injustice and inequality that many Mexican women experience.  Instead, its work is to target the roots that generate these conditions. Like WEA, Semillas believes in solutions that come from community-based organizations.

Semillas provides financial resources, accompaniment and training to women leaders and organizations acting in favor of the rights of women in various states throughout Mexico.

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