COP26 must address gender-based violence against Indigenous women land defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: Secwepemc land defender Mayuk Manuel assaulted by Trans Mountain pipeline worker, September 15, 2021. The Canadian government-owned pipeline is being built on Secwepemc territory without their free, prior and informed consent.

On September 25, The Guardian reported: “Women must be enabled to play a greater role at the Cop26 summit, as the needs of women and girls are being overlooked amid the global climate crisis, a coalition of feminist groups has said.”

That article adds: “More than 120 groups have signed the call, to be presented at a six-day online forum starting on Saturday, which includes demands to promote women’s leadership and equity, protect the rights of indigenous peoples, improve food security, recognise a human right to water, and to protect forests, oceans and other ecosystems.”

The Call to Action for the Global Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice (September 25-30) highlights: “We must transition from an extractivist, colonial paradigm of exploit, extract and decimate to a sustainable, globally-conscious one of respect, restore and replenish.”

The Guardian article on this Assembly further notes: “Studies have also found the climate crisis exacerbates gender-based violence against women.”

Last year, this study by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) devoted a chapter (pages 162-180) to the issue of gender-based violence against women environmental human rights defenders (WEHRDs).

The study notes: “Indigenous communities are often on the frontlines of defending their territories, resources and rights from extractive projects and corporate interests. Across the globe, many indigenous women join this fight, facing intersecting and reinforcing forms of gender-based and other violence, due to a long history of discrimination associated with racism, socio-economic and political marginalisation.”

It then cautions: “When women and other EHRDs remain silenced, transnational corporations’ control over resources and governments’ backing of their interests permeates society and reinforces impunity.”

The study concludes: “Eliminating GBV and discrimination against WEHRDs and strengthening their voice in defence of the environmental is critical for achieving an equitable society that allows for resources and benefits to be shared and sustained among all.”

During the United Nations COP26 summit, that takes place from October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow, Scotland, there will reportedly be a day focused on gender issues, including a discussion of a gender action plan.

Peace Brigades International-Canada affirms that discussion should include strategies to end violence against women environmental human rights defenders, notably Indigenous women land and environmental rights defenders.

Tweet by Secwepemc land defender Mayuk Manuel:

Tweet by Secwepemc land defender Kanahus Manuel:

A Call to Action from the Global Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice.

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