Indigenous Women – Indigenous Rights

May 10, 2004 - 5:00 pm

A panel discussion co-organized with the Rainforest Foundation U.S. featuring participants in this year’s United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous women have always been involved in the struggle for recognition and protection of their rights as indigenous peoples, in particular the right to self-determination and rights to collective lands and resources. Yet, they have also frequently been the victim of human rights violations that are specifically related to their gender, such as forced sterilizations or inadequate access to reproductive health care. The separation of ‘gender’ and ‘ethnicity’ in human rights law which has resulted in bodies focusing either on ‘women’s rights’ or on ‘indigenous rights’, has rendered indigenous women largely invisible. The third session of the Permanent Forum, which has ‘indigenous women’ as a special theme, offers therefore an important opportunity for indigenous women to ensure that their human rights concerns both as women and as indigenous persons are recognized.


Ellen-Rose Kambel holds a Ph.D. and a law degree from the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. Her doctoral thesis was on gender and indigenous land rights in Suriname and she recently wrote a Guide to Indigenous Women’s Rights under the International Convention on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Forest Peoples Programme, 2004). She has been an adviser to the Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname (VIDS) since 1996.

Jacqueline Jubithana, Coordinator of the Legal Program, VIDS. Of mixed Arowak descent, she obtained her law degree at the University of Suriname. She has worked for an indigenous women’s organization in Suriname, and is currently working with the VIDS.

Isabela Figueroa, Coordinator of the Legal Program, Rainforest Foundation U.S. Lead lawyer on Ecuador’s first successful Indigenous case against an oil company, she also served as legal advisor to the Shuar people in their successful representation before the ILO, and to the vice president of the country’s leading Indigenous federation, CONAIE.

Mauricio Font, Bildner Center for Western Hemisphere Studies