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Mujeres Amazónicas Defensoras de la Selva

Women from the Kichwa, Shuar, Achuar, Waorani, Zapara, Andwa, Shiwiar, Cofán, Siona, Siekopai, and Kius peoples, raised against the extractivism destroying their homes, the 'Pachamama'.

Since the 1980s the Cofanes and Waoranis peoples pledged against the American company Chevron Texaco for the environmental damage it was causing in their ancestral territory.

Amazon women became activists, fighters, and defenders of their lands and the planet, but also of their integrity as women. Their bodies, as well as their territory, are violated by the oil, mining, deforestation, cattle raising, single-crops, and hydroelectrics. Women and their families are displaced of their sacred territory.

Mujeres Amazónicas

This grassroots movement has raised their voice against de human rights violations, militarization of the territory, and the harm against mother earth, perpetrated by huge extractivist companies that threat the survival of most vulnerable indigenous communities.

Since 2013 when they organized as 'Mujeres Amazónicas' to denounce on violations to their rights and lands, they have been attacked, threatened, and harassed, even with criminal complaints for exerting their right to peaceful protest.

The organization made evident the fact that in Ecuador, except for the Ombudsman, authorities have failed in their obligation to protect human rights defenders. This failure extends to the judicial system which has left in impunity the attacks and threats to defenders, without an adequate and effective investigation. Amnesty International states there is a clear lack of political will to seriously investigate these crimes.

Their full name is 'Mujeres Amazonicas Defensoras de la Selva de las Bases frente al Extractivismo': Their objective is then the defence of nature and the territory, education and health, culture and traditions preserved through generations, and especially women´s rights, from large economic projects of extractivist companies with political and financial interests.

Main leaders harassed:

Patricia Gualinga

Nema Grefa

Margoth Escobar

Salomé Aranda

In 2012, after 10 years of struggle in a judicial process against the State of the Ecuador for allowing the presence of oil companies in indigenous territory, the Interamerican Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of the Sarayaku peoples. Oil companies, under the protection of the State, had initiated seismic studies in Sarayaku territory protected by the army and the national police. The State violated the right to free, previous, and informed consultation aimed at the protection of indigenous peoples.

'Mujeres Amazónicas' include women from all the 7 nationalities there are in the Ecuadorian Amazon. They lead social protests to claim before the State the protection of their rights and those of their indigenous territories, but all they get are more attacks, threats, and harassment. The judiciary system in the country won´t have an in-depth investigation on these crimes, not recognizing their condition of indigenous leaders and human rights defenders.

Moreover, the extractivist policies from the current government are moving forward without any limit towards the Amazon and without consent from local communities, disrespecting the self-determination of indigenous peoples and nationalities.

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Credits:

1. UN Women; United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 2017 - Closing Session; May 5, 2017; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) 2. Didemtali; Shipibo1; May 15, 2016; (CC BY-NC 2.0) 3. Didemtali; Loggers3; May 17, 2016; (CC BY-NC 2.0) 4. Didemtali; Jungle1; May 18, 2016; (CC BY-NC 2.0) 5. UN Women; Gender Equality Advocate - Indira Vargas - Ecuador; March 14, 2018; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)