September 5th is International Day of Indigenous Women. This date was chosen in 1983, during the Second Meeting of Organizations and Movements of America, held in Tihuanacu, Bolivia.
The objective of this celebration is to recognize all the indigenous women who have played an important role to keep the cultures and language of their tribes alive.
Photography: Julia Volk
It is estimated that there are currently about 522 indigenous communities in Latin America, with a population sum of 42 million people, of which 59% are women. Unfortunately, this is the most oppressed sector, both by the tribes’ cultures and by society in general.
Indigenous women are currently discriminated in three main aspects:
- Gender: Most indigenous communities have a very macho culture, so girls do not have access to education and, in some cases, mating practices involve rape.
- Origin: In many countries, indigenous people are considered as second class citizens.
- Poverty: Culture of most indigenous communities does not allow women to own the lands they live and work in; all land belong to “the man of the house”, therefore, women must ask for permission to work those lands and take what they harvest.
September 5 was chosen to celebrate the International Day of Indigenous Women, aiming to commemorate Bartolina Sisa, who was a brave Peruvian indigenous woman, born on August 24, 1753, in Cuzco.
She dedicated her youth to work mainly on the loom, and when she was 25 years old she married Julian Apaza, later known as Leader Túpac Katari. They organized the rebellion of the indigenous people through the Andes, and led the movement called Aymara Quechua with equal conditions and the same level of command.
Bartolina fell into the hands of the enemy and was used to threaten Túpac Katari. The Leader did not accept the enemy’s demands, but he took care of providing Bartolina with food, coca and gold.
Bartolina was raped, tortured, and finally hanged on September 5, 1782. She went down in history as a brave and indefatigable heroine.
The best way we can celebrate the International Day of Indigenous Women is fighting for equal rights for them, all around the world. Indigenous women must enjoy the same rights as any person of their gender, as well as all women must enjoy the same rights as any person in the world.
Knowing more about the indigenous culture in your country is an excellent way to celebrate and honor those women that are part of it.
Finally, make sure to share with your family and friends some interesting stories about indigenous women, through social networks, and include the hashtag #dayofindigenouswomen to help spreading this celebration.