Female Empowerment and Land Protection

The Xerente Indigenous Women's Fire Brigade was one of the winners of the 2024 Brazilian Women Who Make a Difference Award

March, 2024 – The Xerente Indigenous Women's Fire Brigade, the first of its kind was created in Brazil.  In celebration of Women’s History Month, they received the 2024 Brazilian Women Who Make a Difference Award, granted by the United States Embassy and Consulates in Brazil. 

The award recognizes women who stand out, demonstrating boldness, a pioneering spirit, and a creativity that drives them to transform the country. It also give recognition to women who advocate for the inclusion and protecting the rights of Indigenous communities, women representing LGBTQIA+ community, and other historically marginalized groups.

The Xerente were the first Indigenous peoples to form an all-women fire brigade in 2021.  They formed during the “Volunteer Fire Brigade Training Program on Preventing and Combating Forest Fires.” delivered by PrevFogo/IBAMA in partnership with the United States Forest Service (USFS), the National Indigenous Peoples Foundation (FUNAI), and the Xerente Indigenous Firefighters Association (ABIX). USAID supported the activity under the Brazilian Forest Management and Fire Prevention Program.

These women contribute to environmental education, forest restoration projects, and firefighting efforts. The initiative embodies the spirit of Indigenous communities: union is strength, especially for the protection of their lands, nature, and rights (learn more here). 

Gender equality is one of USAID’s priorities, because of our vision of a world where women and girls enjoy equal rights. Our agency promotes equal access to education, health care, economic opportunities and advocates for the well-being for women and their communities.

Sandra Pereira Braga, from the National Network of Black Rural Quilombola Communities (CONAQ) also received the award — more details about CONAQ’s work are available here

Other award winners from prior editions include federal judge Joana Carolina Pereira Lins, anti-domestic violence activist Bárbara Penna, police chief Renata Montenegro, and B2Mamy founder and CEO Dani Junco, (more information here).