Press Release

Successful Conclusion of the Seminar on the “Inter American System and the Rights of Indigenous Women”

July 19, 2019

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Medellín, Colombia – The Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is announcing the successful conclusion of the Seminar on the “Inter American System and the Rights of Indigenous Women,” which took place at the School of Education of the University of Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia. The activity, held on June 26 and 27, 2019, was organized by the IACHR along with the International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) and the Indigenous Organization of Antioquia (OIA). The IACHR extends its thanks to Colombia for hosting this important event.

The objective of the seminar was to publicly release the IACHR Report on Indigenous Women and Their Human Rights in the Americas and set out the main standards on indigenous peoples emanating from the inter American system. The event was opened by the Dean of the School of Education of the University Antioquia, Wilson Bolivar Buritica; the representative of the Colombian Office of the Ombudsperson, Ana María Almario Dreszer; and the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Antonia Urrejola Noguera. More than one hundred people attended the seminar, which saw the participation of indigenous women of the Embera Dóbida, Eyabida, Chamí, Guna Dule, Senú, Wayuu, Wiwa, and Nasa peoples.

Indigenous representatives had the opportunity to exchange experiences and discuss the challenges they face in exercising their rights. They emphasized, among other things, that States must respect indigenous women’s conception of their human rights, the individual and collective nature of those rights, and the unique relationship these women have with their lands and natural resources. They stated, therefore, that the approach to any indigenous women’s right needs to take into account at all times their culture, traditions, and methods of organization, as well as the collective rights of their peoples. The final declaration of the representatives was recorded at the conclusion of the event.

Rapporteur Antonia Urrejola said, “It is very important to continue creating opportunities to foster dialogue concerning the rights of indigenous women with an intercultural perspective.” She also underscored the importance of States incorporating in their policies and practices the rights of women and indigenous peoples that are enshrined in treaties, declarations, and other universal and regional instruments, and adopting a holistic approach that bears in mind the sex, gender, and worldview of indigenous women, as well as the racism and discrimination with which they have lived.

For her part, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, Margarette May Macaulay, stated “This kind of event is important to bring visibility to the perspectives of indigenous women when analyzing the human rights violations that they suffer, the human rights laws applicable to their reality, and the recommendations of the Inter American Commission to the States to help them tackle the large challenges they face.”

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 178/19