Over the last few years, it has become heartbreakingly evident that being an environmental activist these days is not only difficult, but dangerous as well. In Mexico, being a women environmental activist brings with it anti-activism abuse and gender violence, and being an Indigenous women environmental activist often means an increase in these attacks and the general threat these women face to their lives on a day to day basis.
As this article via Telesur shares, “Women environmental activists in Mexico usually face both abuse over their activism and gender violence. On top of that being Indigenous makes it even more difficult, as Mexico has a big systematical discrimination problem against its Indigenous people.“
According to [Angelica Simon, Media Coordinator for Greenpeace Mexico] women play a crucial role in the environmental struggles in Mexico, being one of the social sectors most-affected by the loss of natural resources and climate change. “A general ecological perspective should also be promoted within the gender struggle. Today more than ever we know there can’t be social and environmental justice without equality.” [Furthermore,] the National Network in Defense of Human Rights in Mexico reported 615 aggressions against women human rights defenders between 2012 and 2014, with an average of four per week.
WEA is acutely aware of critical role Indigenous women environmental leaders in Mexico play, ensuring the preservation of communities, culture and the earth. This is one of the reasons we partnered with Semillas—the only women’s fund in Mexico—and the National Network of Indigenous Women Weaving Rights for Mother Earth and Territory (RENAMITT) in 2014 to support Indigenous women who were gathering together to protect the earth in the face of development and land dispossession. Our hope is that through efforts like these that bring communities of women together, we can also increase the safety of these brave leaders as they stand on the frontlines of this movement.
The ever-changing weather patterns across the globe, but particularly in Latin America, where alternating periods of droughts and floods have gotten worse, has put particular strain on the indigenous and rural women of the region. Lack of land ownership, access to technical and social services means that those who depend on the land for their sustenance are at an ever-increasing risk. But the women are strong, and are finding innovative ways to keep supporting themselves an their families.
Indigenous women and rural women play a very important role in addressing climate change, specifically in efforts to ensure food security in their households and their countries, as well in climate change adaptation efforts.
Global Greengrants Fund, the leading environmental fund supporting grassroots action on a global scale, and The International Network of Women’s Funds have put together a guide to supporting grassroots women’s organizations working on climate justice and women’s rights across the globe. The guide specifically addresses the urgent needs within the funding community and aims to increase appropriate funding for climate action and women’s rights worldwide led by women.
Women’s funders might describe grants that build on women’s traditional roles in agriculture or as service providers… [and] Although such interventions have supported women to mobilize and articulate their rights, they do not always challenge women’s secondary status in societies or address existing power dynamics within families and communities.
For many women, biodiversity is the cornerstone of their work, their belief systems and their basic survival. Apart from the ecological services that biodiversity provides, there is the collection and use of natural resources. For indigenous and local communities in particular, direct links with the land are fundamental
The United Nations Environmental Programme, has a series of chapters, or in-depth articles about women and their relationships with various aspects of nature. One of those chapters touches on Biodiversity, land protection and sustainable development. Aside from the ability to provide food, shelter, and resources for their survival, biodiversity in any given area has a profound impact on the inhabitants of said area. Loss of overall diversity can be devastating. Biodiversity allows women the world over to sustain their livelihoods, bring themselves up from poverty and empower their children to follow in their footsteps.
The Indigenous people of North and South America have come together through a treaty signed by women leaders Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca), Pennie Opal Plan (Idle No More Bay Area), representatives on the Indigenous Environmental Network’s Delegation for the COP 21 United Nations Summit in Paris, met with three representatives of the Amazon Watch Delegation: Kichwa leader, Patricia Gualinga and President of the Association of Sapara Women, Gloria Ushigua. Together they signed a treaty and vowed to stop the progression of extractive industries strengthening their grip on our environment and work together to solve today’s most pressing environmental problems.
“There have never been more unjust laws than the ones that exist now which are allowing the destruction of the environment that we need to exist. For these reasons we invite our sisters and their allies around the world to join us in teach-ins and nonviolent direct actions at all of the facilities and seats of power that are causing the destruction. We invite you to do this calmly, without malice, and with the love in your hearts for everything you hold dear.”
You can read the entirety of their statement here.