“How many indigenous women scientists are there?” The question asked this Tuesday by the Bolivian internationalist and environmental lawyer Lorena Terrazas in a forum organized by the United Nations in Punta del Este (Uruguay) kept resonating in my head. The environmental leader was participating in the first plenary session of the platform for the prevention of disaster risks in Latin America and the Caribbean, in which she spoke with four other women about the importance of science and technology to adapt to climate change. “A dialogue is needed. We cannot act alone, ”said Terrazas in an intervention in which she also asked that we not forget to listen to the bioindicators, the signals that the earth sends us, and promote the conversation between science and ancestral wisdom.
In a region where one of every four registered disasters in the world occurs, especially due to events of climatic origin such as floods, we cannot leave traditional knowledge out of the conversation in the search for solutions. And indigenous women scientists can be excellent interlocutors in this exchange of knowledge. But how many and where are they? It is difficult to know because, as the Bolivian environmentalist warned, there are no figures. The independent medium Own Agenda, who has been practicing “intercultural collaborative journalism” for more than a decade with a network of more than 360 journalists, storytellers, and communicators—the majority indigenous—in 17 Latin American countries, has also recently asked that question. To answer it, it has launched a series of reports for which they have launched requests for access to information to reveal that data in Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia and Peru.
He first chapter, signed by Priscila Hernández and Pablo Hernández, and the only one published to date, explores the situation in Mexico and focuses on indigenous women with doctorates (a number well below 1%, according to official data). “Despite discrimination, economic hardship, and lack of access to universities in their communities, there are women facing the education gap,” the authors write.
The report includes the voices of four doctors from Yucatán, Chiapas, Oaxaca and the State of Mexico belonging to the Network of Indigenous Women in Science (REDMIC), an organization that has granted scholarships to 12 researchers from seven indigenous peoples to continue their studies and to start their projects for the benefit of their communities. Their stories attest to the barriers they have had to overcome to get a doctorate, from economics to discrimination or the difficulties in accessing education from their communities. But they are also a recognition of the contribution of traditional knowledge to development.
The four women interviewed by Agenda Propia investigate various topics such as chemistry, engineering, biomedicine, technology, agricultural sciences or biotechnology. These are areas of knowledge in which indigenous peoples have traditionally developed their knowledge, as acknowledged by one of the interviewees, Zoila Mora Guzmán, a doctor in biochemistry, from Oaxaca: “Much of the medical knowledge today derives precisely from this knowledge in ethnomedicine.” , says. “For example, in my case, my area is cancer, and about 80% or a little more of the medicines known today to treat it come precisely from plants and were discovered as a result of ethnomedical knowledge.”
The Colombian investigative journalist Edilma Prada, founder and director of Agenda Propia, assures that an important part of this report is precisely to recognize the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples that can support science. “Historically, communities have healed, recovered through plants and even the sacred use of them,” she explains. Stories like this, she says, “remind us that plants heal, that dreams guide the path of their peoples, of their communities.”
While her outlet does its homework and settles the statistical debt that prevents us from knowing how many indigenous scientists there are, Prada urges us to look at the stories of resistance of indigenous peoples when thinking about solutions to current problems such as the climate crisis. . And she asks to recognize these women as “part of the solution to what is happening in the world.”
These are our recommendations of the week:
They denounced negligence by the authorities to search for a woman who had been forcibly taken from her home, presumably at the hands of her ex-partner. They also criticize the handling of indigenous justice in cases of gender violence
Former Brazilian ambassador to Ghana leads a movement for women to gain power and visibility in Brazil’s foreign policy
The local Congress approves the ‘Monzón Law’ inspired by the case of feminist lawyer Cecilia Monzón, murdered a year ago and whose main suspect is the father of her son
The Canadian writer, author of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, is about to publish a collection of essays. She talks about feminism, culture wars and denounces intolerance in the networks
The model’s story is little known outside expert circles, although her presence is a constant in the paintings of Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jean Charlot.
With two Oscar nominations, Sarah Polley’s film, based on the book of the same name by Miriam Toews, imagines the response of women to the abuse perpetrated in their community
The sound production, led by the creators of the successful ‘Se regala dudas’, narrates the testimonies of a dozen women from the intimate and personal details that keep them alive through the memory and struggle of their families
With the same spirit with which its female population claimed the right to vote on the continent 95 years ago, the Inter-American Commission of Women continues to fight for rights and parity in a context of new challenges
🎥 And finally, a movie: 1976
By Erika Rosete
The Chilean film ‘1976’ was not nominated for an Oscar. However, alluding to the emblematic phrase of a poet from the same country, upon receiving the Cervantes Prize for Literature, Nicanor Parra, we could also remember that “the prizes are usually for the friends of the juries”, or the friends of the canon with predominance masculine. Chilean actress Manuela Martelli directs this feature film whose main character is an adult woman from a high socioeconomic class, with a summer house on the beach, only three years after the military coup led by Augusto Pinochet. Her name is Carmen and her life changes drastically when a priest from the community where she spends her summers asks her for a favor that involves getting involved, apparently superficially, in the secret task of hiding and helping a young man who is fleeing from the police, when the police in Chile it was any citizen with the firm conviction that communism would end humanity.
Martinelli’s story, his debut feature, is the result of a long journey through the world of Chilean cinema. She herself, the director, is the protagonist of one of the most emblematic films of her country: machuca, a film that he starred in when he was 21 years old. Now, from the direction, Martinelli’s vision offers us a scenario mined with atrocities that are present in the corners where the camera does not point. In the sound of a helicopter approaching the beach, in the discovery of a body that the sea has thrown up; in the desperate howl of a woman who shouts her name so that they know that it is she who has been forced into a car full of men in civilian clothes. The Argentine writer and poet, Nina Ferrari, born in 1983 like Martelli, wrote a phrase that takes on a different and powerful meaning when you see the movie 1976: “How violent the calm with which the stuffed ask us to thank the crumbs”.