On top of a hill on the edge of the Northern Rift Valley in Kenya, the sun is warm but the air is fresh and cool. Moments ago, music of resistance filled the air as Sengwer women practiced traditional dance, song and solidarity.
Under threat of land grabbing by agribusiness company Biopalm, indigenous Bagyeli women from the department of Océan say no to oil palm production in their forests.
As a human rights organisation, gender justice is a fundamental principle of our work, and we have long been conscious of, and sought to address, the barriers to effective participation in decision-making by women. This blog summarises some of the experiences and learnings from our fieldwork in the Congo Basin over the past 5 years, on how to improve women’s effective participation at the community level.
The indigenous women of Cameroon’s forests made their presence felt in a parade celebrating the 33rd edition of International Women’s Day through strong advocacy messages concerning their rights.
More than 22 times now, our community has been forcefully evicted from our ancestral land in Embobut forest, Cherangany Hills, by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), a government agency that is supposed to be responsible for the protection of forests in the country.
On International Women’s Day 2017, indigenous Baka and Bagyeli women in the rainforest of southern Cameroon are facing up to threats to their lands, livelihoods and forests. Equipped with smartphone apps, women are learning how to monitor the issues that affect their lives the most.
Milka Chepkorir Kuto is a human rights activist and member of the Sengwer indigenous people, who live in the the Embobut and Kabolet Forest, Kenya. For the last three years, Milka has been focusing on indigenous women and their role in defending land rights. In occasion of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, we have spoken to Milka about her work and the importance of including women in the struggle to retain ownership and control over their lands.
Since the 1960s, the Sengwer peoples of western Kenya have been experiencing forced evictions from their home in the name of conservation. Since 2014, these evictions have intensified.
Forest Peoples Programme has created this toolkit to help indigenous women in Africa to better understand the African human rights system and how to use it effectively to secure their rights.
Fifteen organisations working with indigenous women, including Forest Peoples Programme, have joined forces to emphasise the injustice and multiple forms of discrimination suffered by indigenous women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the Committee). States are required to submit reports to the Committee every four years, describing legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures they have adopted to implement the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the Convention). The DRC’s report will be examined by the Committee on 11 July 2013 in the presence of a delegation of Congolese government representatives. The proceedings can be watched live online at: http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/.
Letter to request that the situation of indigenous women of Cameroon be included in the list of questions arising from the Cameroon government's periodic report, for the attention of the pre-session working group (57th Session of the CEDAW Committee)
A gender workshop organised in Kisoro, south-western Uganda, from the 19-21 November 2012 that aimed to initiate indigenous people in general aspects of gender, has ended successfully.
The workshop was facilitated by the United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU) and Forest Peoples Programme and hosted fifty Batwa men and women from the districts of Kanungu, Mbarara, Kabale and Kisoro. Youngsters aged 14 - 20 also attended the workshop.
In July and August 2012, three civil society organisations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) - Actions pour les Droits, l'Environnement et la Vie (ADEV), the Centre d’Accompagnement des Autochtones Pygmées et Minoritaires Vulnérables (CAMV), and Cercle pour la défense de l'environnement (CEDEN) - organised a series of legal workshops in collaboration with the Forest Peoples Programme and with financial assistance from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). The workshops sought to reinforce the legal capacity of these organisations and to promote a better understanding of indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights to land and natural resources and of the mechanisms to advocate for and defend the rights of communities in the REDD+ process in the DRC.
The Second Regional Workshop on Gender and Land and Forest Tenure in Africa will take place from the 9th to the 14th of October 2012 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
A regional workshop entitled ‘Gender and land tenure in Africa’ will take place from July 26 to 29, 2011 in Edea, Cameroon. Organized by Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), the Réseau des Femmes Africaines pour la Gestion Communautaire des Forêts (REFACOF), and Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), this workshop’s goals include creating a discussion forum on gender, rights to land, and forest resources in Africa and clarifying the applicable legal framework and protection mechanisms created to secure the rights to land and resources. This workshop will also provide an opportunity to share information on land and forest reforms that are taking place in several African countries. It will bring together approximately thirty participants, including representatives from forest communities and indigenous peoples.
A new publication entitled “Indigenous women’s rights and the African human rights system: a toolkit on mechanisms” was launched at the end of April 2011 during the session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul, The Gambia. The launch was officiated by Commissioner Soyata Maïga, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa, who also contributed to the toolkit. It was elaborated in consultation with local, regional, and international partners who work with indigenous women and indigenous peoples’ organisations. The toolkit consists of a series of informative notes that review human rights standards pertaining to indigenous women in Africa and the different mechanisms available to promote and ensure the protection of these rights. It aims at providing NGOs and indigenous women's organisations in Africa with a helpful resource to guide their effective use of the various African human rights mechanisms. The toolkit is available in English and French online here.
The recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights is a recent development on the African continent. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has, over the last decade, given heightened attention to indigenous peoples’ rights, notably through the creation of its Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities (WGIP) in 2000. This is mostly due to the efforts of civil society organisations which have documented the obstacles faced by indigenous peoples in the enjoyment of their individual and collective rights, and which have brought the many instances where these rights have been violated to the attention of the Commission.