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International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples: Peruvian Indigenous Women and their Communities 

by Juanita Bernal

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August 9th is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples! LUTW would like to honour the brave Indigenous women of Peru with whom we’ve had the privilege of working alongside.

Peruvian Indigenous Women and their Communities

Indigenous women are the root of their community; through their wisdom and knowledge, they have been able to preserve and transmit ancestral traditions throughout generations. As the backbone of their communities, they have been able to enrich their nation, their land, and their culture. They help mobilize their communities in various roles such as caretakers, leaders, knowledge keepers, and mothers. Through LUTW’s time working in various communities in Peru, we have had the opportunity to work with inspiring women who are strong, courageous, and passionate. LUTW works in rural communities in both the Amazon and the Andes and has met brave Indigenous women who are leaders and fighters for their people, their land, and their culture.

What it’s like being the only teacher in the Andes of Peru

 Lourdes Flores Enciso was born in the province of Huaytará in Huancavelica, she is an elementary school teacher and is currently teaching at Ccollpapata primary school in the province of Pilipchaca in her native community of Huancavelica. Early in 2022, LUTW together with NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) brought the gift of renewable energy to her school, and our team took away a deeper knowledge and appreciation of how the people of Ccollpapata live in the Peruvian Andes. The elementary school of Ccollpapata hosts multiple grades with several classrooms and only one teacher. This is the case of Lourdes, who under her wing has 30 students from 3rd and 4th grade. Despite the difficulties and challenges that come with working as a single teacher (low temperatures, altitude, and lack of support),  Lourdes is always willing to help her students. Her sacrifice doesn’t go unnoticed and her passion to pursue a better educational system for her students is truly admirable. 

The Influence of Indigenous Women in the Peruvian Amazon

 

The Amazon is composed of a range of unique cultures which has a distinct regional difference from Peru’s urban centers. Many of these communities in the Amazon have preserved the cultural worldviews of their ancestors which results in a male-dominated society. Often the men of the community have access to education before the women leading to an increase in opportunity. Males usually learn Spanish whereas many women only speak their Indigenous dialect. With these skills men can often leave the community for work, higher education and further experiences, leaving the women behind.

This worldview has kept a gap between Indigenous women and the opportunity to access influential jobs or public positions in their communities. During our most recent visit in 2021 to the communities of Río Santiago district in Amazonas, it was evident that this gap is being slowly reduced thanks to an increase in access to education. Access to education helps break cycles of poverty among women because it provides the necessary skills for them to achieve their highest potential. One example of this is the correlation of women gaining access to education which in turn increases the average age they chose to start a family. We have seen women in these areas take on work outside of their homes to try to generate more economic activity within their communities, such as small general store vendors and restaurants. As women take on more work outside of the home they provide an increase in economic opportunity for their families and their communities. There is a positive shift occurring within these societies, empowering them to participate and play impactful roles. LUTW wants to share their voices so that their strength, determination and stories can continue to impact the world.

Be a part of the change

From our experience working alongside the Indigenous women of Peru, we want to acknowledge their dedication and hard work. As they continue to stand on the frontlines of change, LUTW aims to stand beside them and continue to power opportunity. Significant progress has been made by Peruvian Indigenous women in achieving leadership and decision-making roles which is important as they represent the core of their communities.  it’s been an honour sharing their knowledge, listening to their stories and watching their impact unfold. 

Access to clean energy = education = health = opportunity

If you would like to play a part in empowering Indigenous women you can today. Your support will help LUTW provide access to solar energy in these communities. You can support us through a monthly or a one-time donation. Your donation is not only helping, but also transforming lives. For more information on how to donate click on the “Donate Now” link located below.

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