Women of the Amazon Series

Indigenous carry a banner before the Women’s March in Brasília
"Entre Parentas”, a USAID Supported Network Bears Fruit, Advocating For Indigenous Well-being

September / October, 2023 – Indigenous women from a number of communities in southern Amazonas are taking the lead implementing sustainable actions to tackle climate change. They work on solutions to problems that include elevating their role in managing territories and forest economies. The women play an active role in addressing Indigenous issues and participated in the Indigenous Women's March in Brasilia on September 11-13, 2023.

They released a letter addressed to public authorities presenting a set of demands aimed at strengthening local organizations’ capacities and competencies. Among other things, they demand continued training for women in various areas – as environmental agents, communicators, managers, and leaders – and requested support for production, food security, and income generation. 

This coordinated network emerged from the Entre Parentas training program, delivered in 2021 and 2022 by the Brazilian International Education Institute (IEB) with the support of USAID/Brazil and local Indigenous organizations. Entre Parentas trained 28 women living along the Purus and Madeira rivers banks who represented the Apurinã, Tikuna, Mura, Jiahui, Parintintim, Paumari, Tenharim, Uru Eu Wau Wau, and Juma ethnic groups. 

The program achieved positive results through projects led by female participants. Some of the activities included Brazil nut and babassu oil production, and the development of agroforestry systems (find out more here).

In the open letter issued after the Indigenous Women's March, they requested support to strengthen their network, valuing traditional knowledge and the role of Indigenous women in territorial management (read the full text here in Portuguese).

“The women who participated in Entre Parentas managed to coordinate their work with local Indigenous organizations and their home villages. We have brought a large delegation, and this has given us a lot of visibility inside and outside our territory,” says Daiane Tenharim, Deputy Coordinator of the Alto Madeira Indigenous Women’s Department.

Daiane explains that, since their first mobilization meeting in February, they envisioned the release of a final document. “We have mobilized women from all peoples in our region. We talked about their responsibility and stressed the importance of attending the event and engaging in the fight for the rights of Indigenous Peoples. They expressed their interest and asked for our commitment to seeking more support. And that’s what we did.”

According to Daiane, the group managed to overcome prejudice and sexism. “Women are here to contribute, not to compete with men for space. Our strength is focused on empowering the Indigenous movement and protecting our rights. We can see that this effort has not been in vain. Many men participated in the Indigenous Women's March to support us, so that women could also engage in the discussions. They provided security, helped with infrastructure, and delivered other services,” adds Daiane. 

The southern region of the state of Amazonas is a target for deforestation and violence against Indigenous leaders. It is subjected to other pressures such as criminal forest fires, illegal logging, drug trafficking, invasions, and land grabbing, leading to the loss of biodiversity and other threats to the traditional peoples living there. It is considered one of the most critical areas in the entire Amazon.  There are recorded changes in its rain pattern and it is suffering the impacts of climate change, which affect farming and fishing activities, as well as local water quality.

“The women who participated in Entre Parentas learned to monitor the effects of climate change from their own local vantage point and act as researchers in their territories. They have managed to value traditional solutions and create spaces for new perspectives,” says Sara Gaia, coordinator of the IEB Indigenous Peoples Program. For Sara, participants’ mobilization efforts are evidence of the new leading role they play in the Indigenous Women's March.

Other agendas – In addition to attending the Indigenous Women's March, the group took advantage of their trip to Brasilia to hold a series of meetings with public authorities, including the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, where women discussed territorial protection and denounced threats towards their leaders from invaders to the Tenharim Marmelos Indigenous Land.