Indigenous women defending the Amazon

Note from the CREDO Team: Our grantees at Amazon Watch wanted to make sure you read this important blog post about their work empowering Indigenous women who are defending the Amazon. Thanks to CREDO members, who have helped us donate $175,840 to the organization, they can continue this critical work. 

“During the pandemic, many of us almost died, but we didn’t — because we supported each other, because we prepared our medicines from the forest. The forest contains all that we need, our food and our medicines. That is why we take care of the forest and say no to extraction, no to mining, no to logging. That is why we are here as Mujeres Amazónicas. We are not here to negotiate. We are here to unite as women defending the forest.”

– Zoila Castillo, Kichwa woman defender, at the inauguration of Casa de Mujeres Amazónicas

Indigenous women are pushing back at the systems that are threatening their rights and lives across the Amazon Basin.

The Amazon Rainforest is a crucially important ecosystem, one whose impact extends far beyond its borders. It stabilizes the global climate and contains one-third of all terrestrial species on Earth and a large percentage of the world’s flowing fresh water. The Amazon is also home to and stewarded by 511 Indigenous peoples, including 66 groups living in voluntary isolation.

Indigenous women are on the front lines of defending land, water, and life from the multiple crises facing the Amazon biome. In some of the most dangerous regions in the world to be an earth defender, Amazonian women also face gendered violence while defending their territories from extraction and destruction. Deforestation, resource extraction, land grabs, and destructive development projects have pushed the ecosystem to its tipping point.

Averting the tipping point is essential for the rainforest and for the world’s global climate. Now, Indigenous women are bringing global attention to violence against the earth and her defenders, resisting extractive industries, and building a pan-Amazon women-led movement to permanently protect the rainforest and our climate.

Essential to Indigenous women’s self-determination and futures are the following: land back; women’s land ownership; and sacred Indigenous-only spaces for healing, retreat, convenings, and trainings, as well as regenerative agriculture, forest medicine, and a healthier present and future for Indigenous women.

In solidarity with Indigenous women, Amazon Watch and long-time supporter and environmental advocate Lynn Thorenson, in honor and memory of her son Dru, and empowered by donors like CREDO, are supporting the safety, security, and wellbeing of Indigenous women earth defenders. One of the women defenders’ initiatives they will support is the purchase of a house and land for Casa de Mujeres Amazónicas. This vision advances a decolonized space to gather, mobilize, heal, and practice traditional knowledge and medicine, and it can serve as a model for communities throughout the Amazon Basin.

“Extractive violence against the land and violence against Indigenous women go hand and hand. We believe that healing women is also healing the earth.”

– Nina Gualinga, Kichwa women defender and Women Defenders Program Coordinator at Amazon Watch 

At a moment where gender-based violence against Indigenous women and girls is increasing, public health support for Indigenous peoples has been absent during the COVID-19 pandemic, and oil spills and floods continue to harm Amazonian communities, supporting frontline Indigenous women earth defenders is a critical act of solidarity and a call of hope for the future we know is possible.

We can still avert the tipping point if we take decisive and immediate action to see Indigenous solutions across the finish line. In solidarity with Indigenous, forest, and traditional peoples, Amazon Watch is working towards the permanent protection of 80% of the Amazon by 2025 via the defense and demarcation of Indigenous territories. We must keep standing forests standing. Supporting Indigenous women’s leadership, healing, and visions is critical to doing so.

“Women are the sacred seeds of existence. We are the resistance! We can no longer accept the disrespect, death, and destruction promoted by the patriarchy and by the governments of the world. We resist violence to protect our lives, rights, and territories. We want our territories demarcated now! That is our constitutional right!”

– Sônia Guajajara, Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil 

CREDO’s support uplifts the leadership, knowledge, and solutions of women defenders and Indigenous peoples throughout the Amazon Basin. Thank you for being part of the movement for the rainforest and our collective future!