Indigenous Women Speak out During Mass Mobilization In Brazil
April 8, 2022— From April 4 - 14, Indigenous communities in Brazil are participating in the 18th Edition of the Free Land Camp in Brasília, Brazil. The theme of this year’s Free Land Camp is “Retaking Brazil: Demarcate the Territories and Indigenize the Politics.”
Under Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, there has been an increase in deforestation in the Amazon, and policies and programs that seek to strip the rights and sovereignty of Indigenous communities. In addition, Indigenous peoples often face threats and violence for protecting their territories.
At the Free Land Camp, Indigenous communities are convening, over the course of the two weeks, to hold actions and forums that highlight political engagement, anti-Indigenous laws and policies, and the protection of Indigenous rights and the environment. As part of the camp, a Women’s Assembly has been organized on April 8 to discuss the rights and experiences of Indigenous women in Brazil. Find the full agenda for the Women’s Assembly and the camp here.
The Free Land Camp is coordinated by Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, APOINME, ARPIN SUDESTE, ARPINSUL, COIAB, Comissão Guarani Yvyrupa, Conselho do Povo Terena, and ATY GUASU.
Indigenous women leaders participating in the Free Land Camp have issued the following statements:
Samira Tsibodowapré (Xavante People), Mato Grosso State: “One of our concerns, as a woman of the Xavante people, is the advancement of the idea that agribusiness is a good thing for our people. There are even regions that are favorable to the implementation of agribusiness within Indigenous Lands, but we, women, have fought so that this does not happen and that people are aware of the impact that agribusiness can bring to the community, the negative consequences for the future of our people.
We Indigenous women have been articulating ourselves more and more, not only within the community, but in the Indigenous movement at the national level. In the past, it was only men, few women participated in the movement. Today, we are getting more organized each time. We Xavante Women have also been articulating to participate more and more— our great expectation is to be able to give visibility to our concerns and that the government and non-Indigenous society can become aware of the difficulties that Indigenous peoples have been facing. We, Indigenous women, follow the struggle of our leaders and our concern is to continue this struggle, to be able to follow the path of our ancestors, of those who are gone. We believe that through these spaces like the Encampment we can also raise our voice. Our participation is very important to be able to join forces and fight for our rights, fight so that there are no setbacks because all the achievements were through a lot of struggle and we want to continue this legacy of our leaders, our ancestors.”
Evellyn Hekeré (Terena People), Mato Grosso do Sul State: “I belong to the Terena People from the South Mato Grosso, Pantanal lands. We are going to the Encampment to fight for the permanence of our rights since this year is a political year— but also a year of resistance, where we will demarcate the urns with annatto and genipap. We are going to launch the candidacy of Indigenous women for the senate, state, and federal deputy. We are looking forward to reaching a greater number of Indigenous women participating in the event, overcoming the number of the march last year. We want to see women participating in dialogues and panels presenting their demands. We want to have a voice in the plenary, we want to be heard and understood so that we can return to our communities with an answer to our leaders and our elders. We want federal agencies to be more active and invest, according to the reality of each territory, in education, health, and social assistance. We need a good foundation to support our people and ensure the safety of our children. As an Indigenous woman, as a mother, and as a militant, we will be present at the Free Land Camp.”
Genilda Mygtãn (Kaingang People), Paraná State: “The participation of women in all the Indigenous movements and also other social movements is of fundamental importance, but in the Free Land Camp, it is where we will join forces with women from different nations coming from other regions, to ensure our rights together. I believe that we, Indigenous women, can return from the Encampment back to our lands, more informed and thus pass on to our bases new information. In our region, the lack of prospects is very serious. We don’t have bank financing to work on the land because we can’t comply with the bureaucracy required by the banks; we can’t fish and collect because the dam changed the course of the river. The agribusiness reigns here in the region; we can’t lease because this, in addition to not having legal support, brings serious internal problems!”
The statements were collected by Taily Terena for the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), and have been translated from Portuguese to English and edited for clarity.
The Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International
www.wecaninternational.org - @WECAN_INTL
The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International is a 501(c)3 and solutions-based organization established to engage women worldwide in policy advocacy, on-the-ground projects, trainings, and movement building for global climate justice.