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Addressing the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in 2014, Alma Brooks said:
"So we, as Indigenous peoples of the world, hold the key to the continuation of life on this planet. With that, I just feel empowered, I feel that when women join our hands together for our beloved Mother the Earth, that she will be our greatest ally."
Alma Brooks is a Maliseet elder and KAIROS partner. She was part of a delegation of Indigenous women to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) that KAIROS organized and is one of the remarkable women I work with to raise awareness and understanding of the impacts of resource extraction on women.
Indigenous women play critical roles in protecting the rights of their communities and the environment against considerable odds and sometimes at tremendous risk, even to their lives.
This International Women's Day, KAIROS is releasing the first of a series of videos featuring courageous women in Canada, Latin America and the Philippines.
Since I began working with Indigenous women on these issues two years ago, I have looked for every opportunity to highlight this work: the deep connection between women and the land, the violence and dislocation women feel when their land is degraded and they're displaced as a result of mining, the way women often feel the environmental impacts first and most acutely, the links between violence against women and the arrival of large scale mining, and the way in which mining often exacerbates economic and social vulnerabilities and disparities. Indigenous women face these impacts daily.
These women are human rights and environmental defenders, community leaders, advocates and academics. They monitor impacts, conduct research, and bring these issues to the table.
In short, they are making their voices heard and KAIROS has a role to play in amplifying these voices and making the women visible. This is an opportune time to do this.
The annual meetings of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) will be held in New York the week following IWD (March 14 to 24). These meetings will focus on "women's empowerment and its link to sustainable development." KAIROS will release the series of videos during the two weeks of these UN meetings.
KAIROS' video series on Gendered Impacts: Indigenous Women and Resource Extraction offers an opportunity to hear directly from women at the forefront of this issue. The first video focuses on why this issue is important. Quite simply the reasons are these:
Indigenous women ask different questions
Indigenous women are impacted differently
Indigenous women around the world experience many of the same impacts
Indigenous women are on the frontlines
Indigenous women's perspectives are fundamental to understanding and addressing the impacts of resource extraction. And their voices are often marginalized.
As Alma Brooks said, bringing the feminist struggle together with the land struggle results in a powerful synergy. It is empowering and hopeful, creating possibilities for a better future for women, for men and for the planet.
By Rachel Warden, Latin American Partnerships and Gender Justice program coordinator.