Indigenous Women: Strengthening the Development of Management Plans

Secretary of the CIR Women's Movement describes development efforts in Roraima

September, 2022 — Indigenous women from the state of Roraima are participating in income generation and culture strengthening projects during the development of their Territorial and Environmental Management Plans (PGTAs), produced by the communities themselves in partnership with the Roraima Indigenous Council (CIR).

Maria Betânia Mota de Jesus, a member of the Macuxi People, serves as secretary general of the CIR Women's Movement. She pronounces Indigenous women are seeking to play a stronger role in their communities, by working together with local leaders. "Indigenous women have been able to show leaders they want to cooperate more and have their voices heard," said Maria Betânia.

The PGTAs aims to guarantee and promote the protection, conservation, and sustainable use of natural resources in Indigenous Lands, valuing and recognizing ancestral knowledge associated with the conservation of Amazon biodiversity. They are developed in a participatory manner.

As an Indigenous leader, Maria Betânia participated in the USAID PCAB Partners Meeting in August (read more hereand acknowledges, in this interview, the impressive initiative enhancements. 


How have Indigenous women in Roraima been engaged in this process?Indigenous women seek empowerment and want to play a more prominent role in the day-to-day of their communities. They managed to convince their leaders — usually men — that they should be given an opportunity to follow and act alongside them. It has been very important to build our PGTAs under our partnership with USAID/Brazil.

How has USAID support contributed to that?
USAID supports the implementation of PGTAs, and established that all activities must include a certain number of women. Through these plans, Indigenous People have a chance to say what they want for their communities and outline plans to strengthen their cultures, as well as the environmental, and territorial management of their lands, thus protecting the Amazon rainforest. These discussions highlight their concern for future generations.

What is the role of women’s involvement in PGTAs?
In each project developed by leaders and communities, women are looking for opportunities. They obtained resources to plant and process cassava, as well as produce clothes, handicrafts, and ceramics, aiming to generate income and strengthen the culture of their people. Women work to strengthen traditional Indigenous medicine. Through CIR projects, we provided support for the purchase of supplies and structural adaptation for traditional Indigenous medicine centers. We must not forget our youth, who also work alongside our women. 

Do Indigenous communities feel the impacts of climate change?
We, Indigenous Peoples, feel that Mother Earth is asking for help; we realize the effects of climate change. We have increasingly sought to develop a scientific understanding of these impacts in order to combine Indigenous traditional knowledge with the fight against climate change. It is from the forest that we get our sustenance, our life. We need the forest standing and healthy, so that it continues to provide for our lives. The Amazon means life to us.