Right to Self-determination and Reproductive Justice for - wgnrr by sofiaie

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									WGNRR Campaign for the Right to Self-determination and Reproductive Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls
An Advocacy, Networking and Communications Campaign Concept Paper March 2009-March 2011

Rationale
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous peoples living in more than 70 countries worldwide. Women and girls represent more than half of these indigenous populations. These peoples represent a rich diversity of cultures, religions, traditions, languages and histories; yet continue to be among the world's most marginalised population groups. They live in poor and remote communities where access to social services, livelihood and other economic opportunities, is limited. Their identity had been constantly threatened by neo-colonisation, Christianity and other religions, and by the Western-dominated culture and politics. Their health condition, particularly their reproductive health, is similarly threatened. In recent random consultation and information exchange with WGNRR members working on indigenous women and girls in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia in Latin America; in Cameroon in Africa; and in Papua New Guinea, Philippines, and Thailand in Asia Pacific, the following reproductive and sexual health and rights (RSHR) issues have been identified:  Indigenous people often dwell in less accessible places, such as the mountainous regions of Asia and Africa and the rainforests and mountains of South and Central America. Most of them are very poor and live in rural areas where access to services is usually limited. If they live in urban areas, they commonly face problems with acculturation issues and discrimination. Many indigenous women and girls speak only their native language and find it difficult to operate in the mainstream culture. Many face social and institutional discrimination and may be reluctant to use available reproductive health services. They may be more comfortable with their own health belief systems, traditional providers, and treatments than with Western medicine. In Peru and Ecuador, for example, the traditional position of an indigenous woman in giving birth is vertical and professional health assistance for this method is very limited. Together, these and other conditions make indigenous people a group with a large unmet need for reproductive health services. Marginal political and legal status. This marginalisation has contributed to the racism and discrimination experienced by indigenous women and girls, and it exacerbates their poverty and lack of access to services. Often, indigenous groups deliberately avoid government services because they fear persecution or human rights abuses. Low levels of literacy and schooling compound this problem. Lower literacy and educational attainment rates. Cultural, economic, and language barriers have all limited indigenous women’s and youth’s access to schooling. This limitation is especially true for girls. Even though the educational attainment of indigenous youth is improving in some places, it still tends to lag behind that of non-indigenous youth. For

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example, in Guatemala, more than 80% of girls and women living in rural areas are illiterate. Girls are at a greater disadvantage than boys because investment in girls’ education is viewed as wasteful, as girls may marry young and live with their husbands’ family.  Less access to economic opportunities and employment. Because indigenous people receive less schooling, they begin economic activities at an earlier age. However, most are employed in subsistence agriculture and low-paying informal sector activities. Sometimes these circumstances lead to an increased vulnerability to prostitution, alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse. In peri-urban areas of Guatemala and some areas of Thailand, young indigenous girls are involved in prostitution that leads to higher rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS. Alcohol abuse is a serious health problem among indigenous groups in the Americas, and, in Thailand, hill tribe groups have high rates of opium and heroin abuse. Less access to health and other services. Geographic and cultural isolation limit the indigenous women’s and girls’ access to health education and prevention services, including reproductive health services. This group is less likely to receive curative care for STIs, including HIV and conditions that can affect the outcomes of pregnancy and delivery. Because of persecution, many indigenous people fear and mistrust outsiders and are suspicious of services. Less knowledge about reproductive health, physiology, and sexuality. Cultural and geographic isolation make indigenous women and girls even less knowledgeable about reproduction, pregnancy, and disease prevention than others. Additionally, some traditional practices are harmful or result in erroneous beliefs about health. These beliefs contribute to higher infant and child mortality rates, higher total fertility rates, lower birth weights, and lower contraceptive prevalence found in indigenous groups. Because of poverty and discrimination, age, and lack of knowledge, they are also more vulnerable to infectious diseases such as STIs and HIV. Earlier marriage and childbearing. Their traditional culture and low educational attainment make indigenous youth more likely to marry at an early age. Fertility is usually highly regarded in traditional cultures, and girls often feel great pressure to become pregnant early to prove their fecundity.

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An official definition of "indigenous" has not been adopted by the UN system due to the diversity of the world’s indigenous peoples. Instead, a modern and inclusive understanding of "indigenous" has been developed and includes peoples who:         Identify themselves and are recognised and accepted by their community as indigenous. Demonstrate historical continuity with pre-colonial and/or pre-settler societies. Have strong links to territories and surrounding natural resources. Have distinct social, economic or political systems. Maintain distinct languages, cultures and beliefs. Form non-dominant groups of society. Resolve to maintain and reproduce their ancestral environments and systems as distinctive peoples and communities. In some regions, there may be a preference to use other terms such as tribes, first peoples/nations, aboriginals, ethnic groups, adivasi and janajati. All such terms fall within this modern understanding of "indigenous".1

"Indigenous peoples remain on the margins of society: they are poorer, less educated, die at a younger age, are much more likely to commit suicide, and are generally in worse health than the rest of the population". (Source: The Indigenous World 2006, International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), ECOSOC Consultative Status, p10) Health is defined in WHO’s Constitution as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This definition extends beyond the traditional Western biomedical paradigm which treats body, mind and society as separate entities and reflects a more holistic understanding of health. Indigenous peoples have a similar understanding of health, as well-being is about the harmony that exists between individuals, communities and the universe. In all regions of the world, traditional healing systems and Western biomedical care co-exist. However, for indigenous peoples, the traditional systems play a particularly vital role in their healing strategies. According to WHO estimates, at least 80% of the population in developing countries rely on traditional healing systems as their primary source of care.2 "Children born into indigenous families often live in remote areas where governments do not invest in basic social services. Consequently, indigenous youth and children have limited or no access to health care, quality education, justice and participation. They are at particular risk of not being registered at birth and of being denied identity documents." (Source: United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Fourth Session, UN Document E/C.19/2005/2, Annex III, Item 13)

In the same countries, governments do not have official policies and programmes to approach the peculiar reproductive health needs of indigenous women and girls in keeping with their right to selfdetermination, culture, etc. Neither mechanisms nor processes are also available to monitor and document the health and reproductive conditions of indigenous peoples; more so the aggregation of their records by gender and age. There is a huge and urgent need for a particular WGNRR advocacy agenda and platform of reproductive and sexual health and rights of indigenous women and girls considering their unique history and present realities. The international policy framework of women’s human rights underlying the MDGs, Beijing Platform, CEDAW, and ICPD, remains highly contentious among organisations of indigenous women and girls. The debate is based on the Western notion of human rights as individual rights. Pregnancy and giving birth, for example, are social events involving not only individual but tribal group or clan rights for some indigenous people; for others, they are an exclusive event between the pregnant woman and the Spirit which is considered as sacred and beyond human rights. In 2007, a Universal Declaration of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights had been adopted by the UN General Assembly in its 107th plenary meeting; the Declaration tried to harmonise the concepts of human rights and indigenous beliefs and practices in general terms. The same, however, is silent about the reproductive and sexual health and rights of indigenous women and girls. At present, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples is the advisory body to the Economic and Social Council with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. According to its mandate, the Permanent Forum will:   provide expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the Council, as well as to programmes, funds and agencies of the United Nations, through the Council raise awareness and promote the integration and coordination of activities related to indigenous issues within the UN system

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prepare and disseminate information on indigenous issues

The Permanent Forum holds annual two-week sessions in New York or another place decided by the Forum. Non-governmental organisations and other representatives of the civil society with consultative sitting status in the UN Economic and Social Council may intervene in the UN Permanent Forum for policy-influencing purposes. In undertaking this Campaign, WGNRR recognises that this is its first time, at the network level, to take on the specific RSHR issues of indigenous women and girls though about 200 memberorganisations from Latin America, three from Africa, and 10 from Asia-Pacific are working on said issues since the 1990s. They comprise about half of the total member-organisations of WGNRR and their constituency is concentrated in the Latin American region. Being a new network actor in this field, WGNRR will source its advocacy content, strategy, and actions with emphasis and focus on the experience, struggles and realities of WGNRR members in Latin America.

Campaign Objectives
 To undertake a social investigation and research about the RSHR realities, contexts, and struggles of indigenous women and girls primarily in Latin America and secondarily in Africa and Asia Pacific. To review pertinent policies and frameworks on RSHR issues of indigenous women and girls and relate them with other human rights and development instruments such as the ICPD, MDG, CEDAW and the Beijing Platform. In collaboration with WGNRR members in Latin America, to develop an advocacy and networking agenda on the basis of numbers 1 and 2. Generate a WGNRR guideline for policy influencing, communication, and networking at regional or national level for the promotion of indigenous women’s and girls’ RSHR. Transform the campaign as an opportunity/contribution to reactivate members and enhance the capacity of members to render effective RSHR advocacy and services at national/community levels. Explore WGNRR-member policy/advocacy partnership at regional or national level and funding opportunities for the same. To kick start the operationalisation of a regional focal point in Latin America.

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Activities

1. Social investigation and field research, with the following sub-activities:

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Focus group discussion with WGNRR member-organisations in Peru working specifically on RSHR issues of indigenous women and girls; Indigenous community visit in Peru for I-witness interview and photo/video coverage; Office visit to member-organisations in Lima, random survey, and paper trail; Collaborative regional research between WGNRR CO and member-organisations in Latin America with and identified organisation in Peru as the focal point

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2. Media dispatches and press statements for international, regional or national circulation. 3. Commemoration of the International Day of Action for Women’s Health on May 28 carrying the WGNRR Call for Action 2009 and relating it to RSHR issues of indigenous women and girls. *Development of Call for Action 2010-proposed theme is RSHR issues of indigenous women and girls. 4. Creation of a WGNRR platform and recommended approaches/intervention at the RCM Latin America and the Caribbean to be brought to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples. 5. Creation of a WGNRR guideline for lobbying/advocacy of members at different levels. This will be the basis of WGNRR/member-organisation’s shadow reporting, official country-reporting, intervention during ministerial review and policy-influencing/ monitoring at national and regional levels. 6. Organising of, and fundraising for, a community of practice in Latin America on RSHR of indigenous women and girls.

Expected Outputs

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Results of the social investigation, field and desk research will be publicly communicated in their popular versions in the following formats: a. Pre-recorded WGNRR radio program in English, Spanish and indigenous languages (if possible); b. Video CD presentation in English, Spanish, and French; c. Primer or Fact Sheets (3 languages); and, d. An in-depth version in PDF in three languages for e-circulation.

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An internal document resulting from the social investigation, field and desk research is proposed to be the basis of the Call for Action 2010. Book or special magasine to publish the result of the collaborative regional research on RSHR issues of indigenous women and girls.

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Article and photo contributions to WGNRR newsletters and media dispatch. A regional event to kick starts a community of practice. A focal point organisation and at least 10% increase in network membership among groups and individuals working on RSHR issues of indigenous women and girls. A WGNRR advocacy framework is developed collaboratively, Coordination Office assistance in fund raising and capacity-building benefits WGNRR members and partners in this campaign, and that the RSHR issues of indigenous women and girls is brought to the international policy-making body.

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Time Table
March 2009 April-September 2009 October-December 2009 February 2010 March-April 2009 May 28th June-July August-September October November-December January-February 2011 Social investigation, field research, focus-group discussion in Peru Collaborative regional research in Latin America; internet-based research on RSHR issues of indigenous women and girls worldwide Call for Action 2010 development with Latin America and Caribbean working group Editing and technical production of campaign materials; labelling and mailing Follow up with members on their Call for Action 2009 plans Campaign kicks off with the organising of a community of practice Local campaign developments; inputs for the WGNRR guideline for evaluation and policy influencing Press statements at national, regional, international levels Intervention at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples Distribution of WGNRR evaluation guideline Call 4 Action 2009 evaluation/assessment process


								
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