When it comes to supporting Indigenous women’s rights, we often face assumptions about how the word “feminism” clashes with cosmovision or buen vivir as feminism is seen as coming from westernized societies, and in particular, embraced by white women. However, channeling the recently departed “Godmother of Egyptian feminism”, Nawal El Saadawi,“feminism is embedded in the culture and in the struggle for all women all over the world.”
As a feminist funder, we at Mama Cash are committed to practicing an intersectional feminism that not only builds a table where diverse voices are represented, but that actively questions oppressive power structures and works to dismantle patriarchy, racism, colonialism, and capitalism. These systems of oppression are intricately connected and unfortunately their damage and negative impact has been felt acutely among Indigenous women.
For more than 500 years through the colonization of their lands and bodies, Indigenous women have been at the frontlines of the fight against power structures that have tried everything to erase their strength and beauty. Thankfully, generation after generation, Indigenous women, mothers, sisters, comrades, and leaders have relentlessly fought to keep their cosmovisions alive, but we are far from reaching the arc of justice.
As the month of March ended, the month that feminists around the world take to celebrate our wins but also take deep breaths and continue our struggle, we find grounding and inspiration listening to the voices of Indigenous women. There is an amazing mini web series created by Urgent Action Fund Latin America and the Caribbean titled “CUIDANDERAS”, the word coming from a union between two Spanish words, “cuidadoras” (caretakers) and “curanderas” (healers). Cuidanderas features the stories of Latin American women defenders who are committed to caring for their territories, healing their bodies, and confronting extractive and racist models in Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia. This series remind us on how defenders, activists, and leaders have been and will continue to fight for their rights with or without the philanthropic world. As Alicia Cahuiya, founder and president of the Waorani Women’s Association of the Ecuadorian Amazon (AMWAE)of the Waorani, says in the series:
We will fight! I am going to organize with women, gather women, and we will be braver…The advice from our elder women leaders to us is to keep fighting, we cannot let the world drag us down, the big monster that is capitalism, or governments. Because of that, we are going to gather more women to fight the big monster.
The Global Alliance for Green & Gender Action, of which we’re a member, has documented 60+ responses to COVID-19 from partners in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, including Indigenous peoples. These audio recordings show how communities around the world are centering solidarity and collective care in their efforts to realize a more just future.
And so, my question to us is. how are we stepping up? I challenge our philanthropic sector to go beyond our perceived siloes, our perceived notions of success, our drive for results, and to dig into your organizations and assess how our systems, programmes, and principles are helping to win the fight. We are lucky that several Indigenous women leaders and collectives are already showing us the way to dismantle systemic racism, neo-colonialism, capitalism and beyond. Let’s join them and together, let’s fight the big monsters.