What roles do indigenous women have in forest management? How can we contribute to raise awareness on the importance of their knowledge and traditional practices as well as on their capacities, leadership and collective actions?
In everyday life, indigenous women carry out activities for the sustenance of their families that imply the use of natural resources (water, wood, cultivation plots) and the understanding of the landscapes in their territory. They also participate actively in the emotional consolidation of social and cultural relationships by taking care of their family and immediate environment. Nevertheless, social and cultural norms separate spaces according to gender roles and such differentiation leads to overshadow the contribution of women to the social balance within communities. This conception of roles also dissolves the principle of complementarity between the feminine and masculine that characterizes the ways of living of the Amazon indigenous communities.
As a response to this situation and with the objective of generating a dialogue about the participation of women in the conservation of forests and the community´s well being, Tropenbos Colombia participates in Women protecting the Amazon, a project in the frame of Visión Amazonia, a program of the Colombian government with the objective of reducing deforestation, and the Small Donation Program of GEF-PNUD. Women protecting the Amazon supports initiatives led by indigenous women in order to make an impact in governance by means of improving their capacities, leadership and collective actions, also recognizing their knowledge and traditional practices and promoting the development of sustainable economic local projects.
In 2020, an open call and evaluation process was held and 69 projects directed to the conservation of the forest proposed by indigenous women were selected as part of this program. Many of them have the objective to strengthen the chagra cultivation system, to restore the forest and the services it provides to communities, to heal and strengthen families and also the language and local culture, to rescue the knowledge that contributes to the well-being of the community, to strengthen the ways traditional knowledge is transmitted, to recognize the role of elder female knowledge-holders, to contribute in the participation of women in decision-making scenarios and to offer tools for women organizations carrying out productive projects, among others. Tropenbos Colombia supports this processes through a technical accompaniment with a local team of field agents and by promoting the use of participative methodologies that facilitate the implementation of projects and invites to discuss technical and vital elements within the groups. We also create scenarios for the exchange of experiences among the different initiatives. Through these actions, we intend to contribute to the strengthening of organizational, administrative, technical and financial capacities and to enhance the impact of women’s organizational processes and leadership in the frame of conservation and territory management. Also, we expect to contribute to raise awareness on the importance of the knowledge of indigenous women from the Amazon and their role in forest management.