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Being a woman in Latin America continues to be a significant challenge, being indigenous woman in rural areas where education, work, and health are limited is even more challenging. According to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI), by 2018 only 36% of indigenous women had completed their secondary studies. "We have too much burden at home. It makes it difficult for us to concentrate on studying, undertaking, supporting other spaces within the community," highlights Erika Valera, a student at the first school of Indigenous Government and Amazon Development (EGIDA).
Gender equity is a slow and deliberate process, but little by little, it begins to germinate in the native communities of Peru. This year, 14 indigenous women have completed the diploma course on indigenous governance, advocacy, and political communication. Now, they are trained to take part in decision-making, and they are able to be key actors in the culture revaluation and the development of the indigenous economy.
The road has not been easy. They travel long distances, up to 4 days by boat, to reach their face-to-face classes and join the virtual classes, which are part of the hybrid system. It is an almost impossible feat to accomplish in the rainy season. But her courage and desire to learn overcome any barrier. Lluli Chavez student and chocolatier entrepreneur from the Kichwa indigenous people of San Martín says, "I have learned to set limits so that my rights to learn, undertake, and participate in decision-making spaces are respected."
Another big challenge is to delegate their role as mothers to focus on their studies. "That is why at EGIDA when promoting the diploma course, we have included a gender quota, 50% men and 50% women, and we have created a nursery to guarantee female participation in this learning process”, mentions Laura Armas from the pedagogical support of EGIDA.
We highlight the struggle, courage, and resilience with which these women move forward and remain an unbreakable pillar that protects the ancestral knowledge of the Amazon on International Indigenous Women's Day.
The School of Indigenous Government and Amazon Development (EGIDA) is an AIDESEP initiative implemented with the support of WWF and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) within the framework of the Indigenous Amazon: Rights and Resources project ( AIRR).