Empowering Indigenous Women at the Amazon

Women’s seminar explores combat discrimination and violence

October / November 2022 - Macuxi, Wapichana, Taurepang, and Patamona Indigenous women produced a document describing discrimination and strategies for leadership and youth involvement. The document was one of the outputs of the Indigenous Women State Seminar, held in October in Roraima. 

The event included 200 participants to discuss topics such as rights, security, violence, and self-esteem cultivation techniques in relation to managing Indigenous lands. The group called for an end to violence against women. Demonstrating solidarity participants painted their hands red, and “printed” their hand marks on a banner.

“We deal with our emotions, we know how to always act at the right time, and we determine who we are, what we value, and what we want, depending on how we see our daily lives and the situations we experience,” said Maria Betânia Mota de Jesus, who is a member of the Macuxi people and the secretary general of the Roraima Indigenous Council’s Women's Movement. 

The seminar was promoted by the Roraima Indigenous Council (CIR), with support from USAID/Brazil and the Ford Foundation. In addition to several CIR departments, the event involved groups of Indigenous women from the Serra da Lua, Raposa, Baixo Cotingo, Surumu, Serras, Alto Cauamé, and Murupu regions, as well as the Diocese of Roraima, Casa da Mulher Brasileira, and Fiocruz.

The leaders discussed the issues they are facing and how to address them in their communities. Solutions included reporting channels, women protection and empowerment measures, and ways to support women who are victims of domestic and psychological violence. 

The women-led Indigenous Land Surveillance Group (GPVTI) works alongside the police in cases of assault. "We supported the Civilian Police in their investigative processes, and even dealt with attackers and invaders at the Serra da Lua community. We also benefited from training provided by the CIR Legal Department,” explained Alcinda Pinho Cadete from the Macuxi people, resident in the Serra da Lua region.

Iterniza Pereira, also from the Macuxi people, is a CIR psychologist who has been supporting communities in the region for at least two years. She said that there has been an increase in domestic violence. “It is a concern for leaders, and for those on the front lines. The CIR seeks to promote projects focused on preventing this from happening,” she said.

Adriã Galvão, who presents the Federal University of Roraima's Cunhatã Podcast, stressed the importance of the event. “For me it was refreshing to interact with such strong and powerful women engaged in the struggle for land, education, and health. It was a unique experience,” she concluded.