Indigenous women from Paraguay met at the meeting "Opening Paths. Towards a response to violence against indigenous women", in which they shared their experiences of violence against them with the aim of designing public policies to protect them
This activity, carried out in the framework of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, consisted of a dialogue between indigenous women from Peru and the public sector and international institutions, in order to design more effective public policies to curb the violence they suffer. ‘Abriendo Caminos’ is an initiative of the European programme Support for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Paraguay (led by the FIIAPP), together with the Delegation of the European Union in Paraguay, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs of Paraguay and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
During the two days of activity, indigenous women from organisations such as Indigenous Women of Paraguay (MIPY), the Coordinating Committee of Indigenous and Rural Women (CONAMURI), Kuña Guaraní Aty and the Union of Indigenous Youth of Paraguay (UJIP), shared their experiences and proposed measures to the institutional authorities present to put an end to violence.
“I am here to talk about my experiences and to listen to what it is like in other communities. To suggest what can be done to prevent violence. Not all physical violence is reported, many stays in the family. Our request is to go to the competent authorities, but we also ask these authorities to listen to us. Because many times they don’t listen to women, especially when we are indigenous women“, said Teresita Sánchez, from the Nivaclé people, belonging to the Uj’e Lhavos community, located in Filadelfia, in the department of Boquerón.
In this regard, the Minister for Women in Paraguay, Celina Lezcano, has argued that public policies for indigenous women cannot be constructed without listening to them. “We need to build specific responses to specific problems, responses that must also be articulated and involve the whole of society. Violence against women is an issue that must be dealt with transversally in all state institutions and society in general, since the damage it causes impacts on the country’s development”, she remarked.
Bernarda Pesoa, from the Qom people, Santa Rosa community, said: “We are 47 kilometres from Asunción and the authorities don’t see us, imagine those who are further away. The community leaders say that I am a danger because I train women on issues of violence. In INDI there are also many obstacles; the process of recognition of leadership takes three months; my application took a year and a half.
Tania Vera Portillo emphasised the situation of young indigenous women, who “are very vulnerable due to the lack of opportunities. Many times we are silenced as young people, if I want to be heard, I have to make myself heard, but at the same time my opinion is belittled because I am a woman”, said Tania, from the Ava Guaraní people, Fortuna community.
During the opening of the activity, Diana García, Deputy Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) in Paraguay, said that “generalities are not valid if we want to make public policies for all people. Every person counts”.
Rocío Galiano Marés, National Representative of the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, indicated that “State institutions have made great progress in the attention and response to violence against women, young women and girls in Paraguay. However, we know that there are still many challenges for prevention, comprehensive care, access to justice and protection to be effective and to respond to the situations and particularities of women, adolescents and girls from indigenous peoples. This meeting takes place considering the existence of high levels of violence and vulnerability to which indigenous women are exposed and the need to expand knowledge on how to address violence in an effective, articulated and culturally relevant manner.
The objective of this meeting is to initiate a process of collective discussion and reflection between indigenous women and state entities, which will contribute to the design of elements for the institutional approach to violence against indigenous women, with their participation and with an intercultural approach, taking into account experiences of violence lived by indigenous women, as well as their strategies and challenges to address them from the community and institutions.
It involves developing knowledge for the design of policies for the care and prevention of violence against indigenous women in order to offer better and more effective public services under the premise of “leaving no one behind”.