Friday, January 11, 2019


228. The information gathered by the IACHR through its different human rights protection and promotion mechanisms corroborates that indigenous women have faced and continue to confront multiple forms of discrimination based on their gender, ethnicity, and situation of poverty, which heightens their exposure to human rights violations in different contexts. In this report, the Commission provides an analysis of the general human rights situation of indigenous women in the hemisphere, identifying areas where challenges must be addressed, as well as providing guidelines for States to use when designing and implementing measures to respect and ensure indigenous women’s human rights.

229. The IACHR recognizes the efforts made by various States of the region to address the situation of indigenous women’s human rights. However, formidable barriers still remain and it is essential that States continue working to find solutions to meet the particular needs of indigenous women and to fully respect and guarantee all of their human rights. It is important to include indigenous women and the organizations that represent them in the design and monitoring of State measures intended to advance their human rights, and to incorporate a holistic, gender, and ethno-racial approach, as described in this report.

230. Indigenous women also encounter different forms of discrimination and violence in their own communities. Consequently, indigenous justice systems must be compatible with internationally recognized human rights, just as State justice systems are required to be. Accordingly, they also have the duty to act with due diligence in preventing, investigating, and punishing violence against women, as well as to implement any necessary measures to eradicate the obstacles that prevent indigenous women from fully exercising their human rights without discrimination. 

231. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concludes this report with ten recommendations to assist States in their ongoing efforts to prevent and respond to human rights violations affecting indigenous women, and confirms its disposition to collaborate in this process:
  • 1. Design, adopt, and implement an action plan to repeal the domestic legal provisions that are inconsistent with the guiding principles laid out above, and refrain from adopting laws incompatible with these guiding principles. Incorporate in all laws and policies that affect indigenous women a holistic approach to address the multiple and interconnected forms of discrimination encountered by them in different contexts, protecting both their individual and collective rights. The holistic approach must recognize the special role played by indigenous women in their communities, with a view to transform and rectify the structural and historical forms of discrimination affecting them;
  • 2. Design, adopt, and implement a gender-based, ethno-racial, and intercultural perspective to prevent, investigate, prosecute, and punish all forms of violence against indigenous women. The gender-based, ethno-racial, and intercultural perspective must also be incorporated into the formulation of reparations so they have a transformative effect on the multiple and interconnected forms of discrimination faced by indigenous women;
  • 3. Generate spaces of coordination between the State justice systems and traditional indigenous justice systems to incorporate a gender and intercultural perspective to improve the judicial protection of indigenous women when they suffer human rights violations. These spaces must promote the active participation of indigenous women in the systems of administration of justice and in the development of approaches to reparations;
  • 4. In accordance with the right to self-determination, adopt appropriate measures to ensure the civil and political rights associated with indigenous women’s exercise of full citizenship;  and create spaces for the full and active participation of indigenous women in the design and implementation of initiatives, programs, and policies at all levels of government; those related to indigenous women, as well as those related generally to indigenous peoples as a whole;
  • 5. Identify and institutionalize new forms of gender and cultural competency training for public servants from all sectors of government, including lawyers, judges, and teachers, in order to fully guarantee indigenous women’s right to live free from violence and make sure that, in the performance of their duties, public servants fully respect the physical and psychological integrity of indigenous women;
  • 6. Incorporate a gender and intercultural perspective in guaranteeing the right to a dignified life, free from discrimination; recognize that the right to a dignified life includes recognition of indigenous conceptions of community, culture, and family life; and therefore, revise its public policies, programs, and legislation in order to eradicate all forms of discrimination against indigenous women, and adequately reflect a gender and intercultural perspective;
  • 7. Adopt all appropriate measures to promote and protect indigenous women’s economic, social, and cultural rights with the goal of ensuring full access to basic health and education services, food, and water, among other things. This includes guaranteeing the use and enjoyment of their ancestral lands and territories, ensuring their collective rights to ownership of their ancestral lands via titling, delimitation, demarcation and possession, as these steps are fundamental to the physical and cultural survival of indigenous peoples;
  • 8. Produce comprehensive and disaggregated statistics on violence and discrimination against indigenous women, their access to justice, and their access to economic, social and cultural rights, as well as other quantitative and qualitative information that may be relevant to ensure their human rights; periodically update them to provide an accurate picture of the situation of violence and discrimination affecting indigenous women; and consider this information to design government policies and programs to effectively combat violence and discrimination against indigenous women, as well as to promote access to justice and the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights;
  • 9. Adopt special and differentiated measures for the protection of the lives and safety of indigenous women human rights defenders and leaders, in view of the three tiers of vulnerability faced by them as women, members of indigenous communities, and often living in situations of poverty;
  • 10. Ensure the application of each of the seven guiding principles detailed previously in this report when designing and implementing policies that affect indigenous women.

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