'Women for Forests' was presented on April 3, 2019 as part of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network series of WECAN Online Education and Advocacy Trainings!
During the training, we heard from four outstanding Indigenous women organizers surrounding the latest updates from their respective homelands, the resistance movements for defense of forests, the need to address root causes of forest loss, and other stories and lessons from women’s work to stand for global forests.
Women from across the world are exposing the intertwined root causes of forest destruction, gender injustice, and economic domination. They are rising up to protect vital forests ecosystems from deforestation, agribusiness, and a host of other threats. Through their work, they are protecting irreplaceable biodiversity and the sources of community life and livelihoods, while also spearheading efforts that sequester massive amounts of carbon, and thus help mitigate against the worst effects of global climate change.
As part of WECAN International’s commitment to a climate justice framework, this training did not promote any of the false solutions often associated with climate-forest programs, including carbon offsets and other market mechanisms. Rather, speakers focused on the grassroots, community-driven, and rights-based strategies and solutions being demonstrated by women around the world.
Wanda “Kashudoha” Loescher Culp
Wanda is an Indigenous Tlingit activist, advocate, and hunter, fisher and gatherer of wild foods, born and raised in Juneau, and living in Hoonah, Alaska. She is the mother of three children, and is recognized as a storyteller, cultural interpreter, playwright, and co-producer of the film Walking in Two Worlds. As of 2016, Wanda has united with WECAN as a Regional Coordinator, revitalizing initiatives to protect the Tongass Rainforest and the traditional rights and lifeways of the regions Indigenous peoples. During the call Wanda shared about her most recent advocacy work in Washington D.C.
From March 11th to 13th, 2019, a WECAN International Delegation of Indigenous Women from the Tongass Rainforest of Alaska assembled in Washington, D.C. to advocate for the Tongass, and the continuation of the Roadless Rule, an important measure to protect Alaska's Tongass National Forest, which falls within the traditional territories of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Peoples.
The Delegation to D.C. was the first time Tlingit women traveled to the Capitol to fight and protect their traditional territory, communities, and the global climate. We were grateful to partner with Earthjustice as the women participated in 16 meetings including the Alaska Delegation, Congressional committee staff, USDA, and the Forest Service, to address current attacks on forest protections.
Neema Namadamu is a visionary peacemaker from Bukavu, South Kivu Province in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where she advocates for peace, women’s rights, rights for persons with disabilities, rights for Indigenous pygmy peoples, and Rights of Nature. Neema spoke about working with women planting trees and regenerating damaged lands in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
She is Founder and Director of SAFECO, the Synergy of Congolese Women’s Associations and Maman Shujaa: Hero Women of the Congo, through which she has a established a media center for Congolese women to make their voices heard on the range of issues affecting their country. Neema also serves as WECAN International’s Coordinator in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As WECAN DRC Coordinator, Neema leads workshops and trainings with local women to address deforestation, build women’s leadership, support Traditional Ecologic Knowledge, and protect the rich ecosystems of the Itombwe rainforest. In June of 2012 Neema was selected as one of three World Pulse journalists for their annual Live Tour of the U.S., where she spoke before the U.S. Department of State, the Clinton Global Initiative, and was interviewed by CNN.
Sônia Bone Guajajara
Sônia Bone Guajajara is a Brazilian Indigenous leader and Executive Coordinator for the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), she comes from the Araribóia Indigenous Land, of the Guajajara people. Sônia Guajajara graduated in Arts and Nursing, apart from being a specialist in Special Education by the State University of Maranhão. She was a candidate for Vice-President of Brazil in the 2018 Elections; Coordinator of the Organizations and Articulations of the Indigenous Peoples of Maranhão (COAPIMA) and of the Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB). In 2015, she received the Order of Cultural Merit from the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Culture.
During the training, Sônia Bone Guajajara shared vital information about the current Indigenous Resistance to defend Indigenous Rights and protect the Amazon. Brazil’s Indigenous peoples are under increasing attack with newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro and his regime’s devastating assaults on social and environmental protections. Indigenous organizations in Brazil are mobilizing locally and globally to protect and defend their communities, the Amazon rainforest and the global climate.
Isis Alvares is the Gender Advisor and Campaigner for the Global Forest Coalition in Paraguay.
Isis spoke about her work at the Global Forest Coalition where they support and coordinate joint NGO/IPO campaigns for socially just and effective forest policy and the rights of Indigenous and other forest peoples.
They work on campaigns to
defend human rights;
address the drivers of forest loss and land conversion to mono-culture tree plantations;
promote the legal and political recognition of Indigenous peoples and their territories;
advance women's rights and empowerment;
and much more!