News

Launch of Ogiek women’s empowerment project

The FSC Indigenous Foundation and Ogiek Peoples Development Program support a journey to Indigenous women’s socio-economic transformation.

Nakuru, Kenya – On April 8, 2024, the FSC Indigenous Foundation and Ogiek Peoples Development Program launch a joint project, “Promoting Socio-Economic Empowerment among Ogiek Women of Mau, Kenya.” This project is part of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD), a five-year program implemented by the FSC-IF and funded by USAID, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and private sector partners. 

This event, that took place at the Ole Ken Hotel, Nakuru, marked the beginning of a transformative journey towards empowering Ogiek women, addressing their unique challenges, and fostering sustainable socio-economic development in the Mau regions of Kenya.

Participants included representatives from local government, Women Enterprise Fund, Microfinance Institutions, FSC-IF, County Executive Committee (CEC), media, and Ogiek community members.

After opening words by the Executive Director of the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP) Daniel Kobei, participants listened to keynote addresses from FSC-IF Africa Regional Director Salina Sanou and representatives from the Gender Departments of Narok and Nakuru Counties.

Daniel Kobei emphasized the need to work with county and national governments in Kenya and that the women’s agenda is not only an agenda of NGOs but for everybody.  

The project is also a way of championing for the rights of Ogiek People because one cannot champion for rights without food and being economically empowered.”

Daniel Kobei

FSC-IF is committed to Indigenous women because they are pillars of our communities. Women are custodians of knowledge and culture.”

Salina Sanou

A panel discussion followed on challenges faced by Ogiek women and opportunities for collaboration with the participation of representatives of the Nakuru County Gender Department, Narok County Gender Department, Women Enterprise Fund, and a microfinance institution. 

The project launch was officially opened by Josephine Achieng, County Executive Committee Member of Youth, Gender, Culture, Sports and Social Services, Nakuru County. “OPDP is taking the right trajectory of empowering women,” she said.

“We need to have women represented in all spheres of life politically, economically, and socially,” said Eunice Chepkemoi, Gender and Youth Officer at OPDP. 

Participants broke into groups to explore specific areas of engagement and opportunities during project implementation. The Gender Department of Narok County noted that OPDP is now a member of the Gender Sector Working Group of Narok County. 

Women from the Ogiek community emphasized that the project is bringing them hope.

When a woman is empowered, the whole community is empowered.”  

Ogiek woman representative

Ogiek women of Kenya

The Ogiek People face persistent challenges. Decades of forceful evictions from their ancestral lands have led to discrimination, marginalization, and oppression, resulting in low participation in development issues. Ogiek women, in particular, grapple with poverty, illiteracy, and limited access to economic opportunities. The lack of representation in the political arena further exacerbates their plight, hindering their ability to address these issues effectively.  

Despite these challenges, many Ogiek women have formed women’s groups and engage in economic activities, for example, savings cooperatives, tree nurseries, livestock raising, and beekeeping. These groups could benefit from additional support and opportunities to catalyze sustainable development for their communities.

Transformation to economic empowerment

By providing Ogiek women with the necessary training and support, the FSC-IF and OPDP aim to support them to become self-reliant and economically independent. 

Our joint project, “Promoting Socio-Economic Empowerment among Ogiek Women of Mau, Kenya” is a training initiative and open call for proposals from women’s groups to receive financial support. 

The training initiative will equip Ogiek women with the essential skills and knowledge to engage in sustainable income-generating activities. It will also foster leadership skills among the participants, particularly the chair ladies, secretaries, and treasurers, to understand their roles and responsibilities, enabling them to guide and mentor their members within the groups. 

Through the initiative, we will catalyze sustainable socio-economic development among the trainees, leading to improved livelihoods and enhanced community resilience. This will contribute to their well-being and promote inclusivity, gender equality, and community prosperity.

In parallel, Ogiek women groups across six counties of Kenya will submit proposals to apply for limited funds to support them in establishing small-scale income-generating activities. The project will support twelve sustainable projects that benefit community resilience. 

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The FSC Indigenous Foundation (FSC-IF) is a global Indigenous organization with a mission, values, and actions driven by, for, and with Indigenous Peoples. It was established in 2019 by the FSC and the FSC Permanent Indigenous Peoples Committee (PIPC). We serve as a global strategic, technical, operational, and financial entity led by Indigenous Peoples, supporting their self-development, self-governance, and self-reliance through Indigenous-based solutions, multi-sectoral partnerships, and funding. Our mission is to elevate Indigenous Peoples in their contribution to the protection of Mother Earth and recognize them as providers of solutions and partners to fight against global challenges. We envision a future where Indigenous-led solutions and actions, generated within one-quarter of the planet, safeguard the future of everyone and Mother Earth.

The Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP) is a Kenya-based organization founded in 1999 and registered by the Kenyan Government as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in 2001. It was formed by Ogiek elders, opinion leaders, farmers, and professionals after long land historical injustices that deprived Ogiek community of their rights as Kenyan citizens. OPDP’s work is centered on promoting the recognition and identity of Indigenous Peoples’ culture, the participation and inclusion of the communities in all sectors of development, championing for land rights, ensuring environmental protection, and overall sustainable development. OPDP has its headquarters in Nakuru town, Nakuru County, and operates nationally. 

News

Indigenous women on the frontline against climate change

At COP28, Indigenous women leaders from Africa, Mesoamerica and Asia share perceptions of climate change and their actions to resist its effects.

On December 11, Indigenous women from Cameroon, Panama, Kenya, and the Philippines discussed how their ancestral knowledge contributes to Indigenous Peoples’ resilience to the effects of climate change in a side event at COP 28, From the frontlines: Through Indigenous women’s eyes.  The event was organized by the FSC Indigenous Foundation (FSC-IF), the Coordination of Mesoamerican Women Territorial Leaders (CMLT), the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMBP), and the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC).

Indigenous Peoples have been disproportionately affected by the impact of climate change. From the increase in the intensity of hurricanes, forest fires, droughts, and the degradation of soils and ecosystems, this crisis causes serious losses and damages that particularly affect Indigenous women and girls, as it hinders access to subsistence resources and increases the conditions of insecurity, vulnerability and risk to different types of violence

At the same time, Indigenous women have historically been the guardians of ancestral knowledge and transmitters of traditional practices of medicine, planting, and the deep bond with Mother Earth. Therefore, the food security of their families, the good living of their peoples, and the conservation and regeneration of the planet’s forests and biodiversity depend on the empowerment and identity of Indigenous women and girls. 

Around the world Indigenous women are taking action to resist the impacts of climate change on their territories and communities and build resilience, using their ancestral knowledge and deep connection with Mother Earth. 

Voices and actions from around the world

In a panel, Sara Omi, President of the Coordinating Committee of Women Territorial Leaders of Mesoamerica; Balkisou Buba, Vice President of the Cameroon Branch of the Network of Indigenous and Local Populations for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (REPALEAC); Edna Kaptoyo, Grantmaking and Partnerships Officer, Pawanka Fund; and Helen Magata, Coordinator of the Climate and Biodiversity Program of Tebtebba Foundation, shared their perspectives on loss and damages from climate change, the link between climate change and increasing violence, and their actions for resilience. 

Something needs to be done to reduce climate change to reduce the threat of violence against Indigenous women and girls,” stated Balkisou Buba. Panelists explained that Indigenous women face violence due to the impacts of climate change in their territories as they are forced to migrate to cities or walk longer distances to fetch water or wood.

They also discussed losses and damages from climate change. “Language loss is not something you can compensate for, our languages are dying,” explained Helen Magata, noting that language is connected to traditional agricultural practices of Indigenous women. 

In response to these challenges, panelists shared actions they are taking in their communities for climate resilience. 

Indigenous women are doing great work to preserve the ancestral knowledge of our grandmothers. I come from a community that was relocated due to the construction of a hydroelectric dam, my grandmothers have shown that despite the violation of the right to territory we can restore our home and maintain our identity,” said Sara Omi. 

Indigenous women have been socially organizing to collectively face issues, such as access to food with drought-tolerant crops and traditional medicine. Women understand the ecology of their territory, which is crucial for regeneration and restoration projects,” added Edna Kaptoyo.

“Pastoralists use the land for periods so that the soil can regenerate. We also take just what we need from nature. We also use traditional knowledge to predict what is going to happen: draughts, rains,” said Balkisou Buba.  

Helen Magata discussed forest and water management practices in her community that respond the the challenges of climate change and contribute to the reduction of conflict. She also shared the work of a community center to support Indigenous women’s mental well-being. “We do so much for the community and forget about ourselves, but we are also individuals,” she said. 

The panel was moderated by Rabiatou Ahmadou, Political Participation and Advocacy Coordinator at the International Indigenous Women’s Forum.Our Indigenous cultures are cultures of sharing,” she emphasized, highlighting that Indigenous women think about sharing, protecting, and leaving resources for the next generation. 

Messages to stakeholders

Key stakeholders including governments, donors, philanthropists, and social and humanitarian operators participated in the event to hear directly from Indigenous women leaders on their perspectives and messages.

Edna Kaptoyo called for the recognition of the role of Indigenous women in climate resilience. Balkisou Buba highlighted the need to invest in traditional knowledge and involve Indigenous women in decision-making.

Helen Magata said that Indigenous women do not need to be empowered, because they already are. “Knowledge is power and Indigenous women have the knowledge,” she said. The call for stakeholders is to provide spaces and platforms for them to share that knowledge.

Further than the creation of these spaces, both Sara Omi and Balkisou Buba emphasized the need for direct climate finance to Indigenous women to allow them to continue protecting forests, and landscapes and advancing actions towards climate resilience. 

Watch a recording of the event below:

Contact information:

Mary Donovan, FSC-IF, m.donovan@fsc.org

Tamara Espinoza, CMLT/AMPB, comunicacion@mujeresmesoamericanas.org

Andrea Rodriguez, GATC, arodriguez@globalalliance.me

Listen to more messages from Indigenous women on climate change here.

News

Indigenous empowerment for climate-resilient solutions in Africa

At COP 28 side event Indigenous leaders discussed empowering Indigenous communities with financial resources and inclusive carbon markets to scale up climate solutions.

At COP 28, the FSC Indigenous Foundation, the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC),  the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Inclusive Development Hub convened experts at an event on December 5 in the Indigenous Peoples Pavilion, Engaging Indigenous Peoples in Carbon Markets: Direct access to climate finance for Indigenous communities in Africa to increase awareness of the unique contributions of Indigenous communities to climate resilience and to discuss opportunities, challenges and solutions related to direct climate finance and carbon markets.

The need for direct and inclusive mechanisms

The global challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change require urgent and collaborative action. Indigenous communities, often the stewards of rich biodiversity, possess unique knowledge and sustainable practices that can significantly contribute to climate resilience. By fostering direct access for Indigenous Peoples to climate finance, we can empower Indigenous communities in Africa to implement sustainable solutions, contributing significantly to the broader goals of biodiversity conservation and climate resilience.

Carbon markets could be a way of empowering Indigenous Peoples by paying them for protecting the world’s forests. Indigenous and community lands hold at least 22% of the carbon stored in tropical and subtropical forests globally. These markets have the potential to create a unique opportunity for Indigenous communities to develop an economic sector aligned with Indigenous lifestyles, Indigenous Cultural Landscapes, and sustainable land management. It is also an opportunity for governments and industry to co-create meaningful partnerships and develop relevant policies with Indigenous Peoples.

On the other hand, some Indigenous communities fear that further development of carbon markets, even with the new rules agreed to at COP 27, will endanger local livelihoods and create loopholes for further emissions. Markets must be designed in a transparent way that responds to the needs and realities of Indigenous communities.

Perspectives from Indigenous leaders

We took the opportunity of COP28 to create an inclusive space to identify the key constraints, challenges, and opportunities of climate finance and carbon markets. 

To begin the event, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, FSC Indigenous Foundation Council Chair gave opening remarks. 

“What is the carbon market, and how is it going to respect the land and rights of Indigenous Peoples?” she asked.  “If governments are going engage in the carbon market, we are not going to let them do it without getting the benefit and we are not going to let them do it while harming our lives and our territories.”

A panel with Indigenous leaders and partner organizations shared perspectives and key insights on how we can engage stakeholders from the realms of climate finance, environmental policy, and Indigenous rights advocacy to ensure direct access to finance for Indigenous communities.

Panelists also discussed how Indigenous Peoples can benefit from carbon markets, and which concerns need to be addressed for more Indigenous Peoples to participate.

“There is a big debate that carbon is a false solution”, said Kanyinke Sena, Executive Director of IPACC. “We must understand that carbon in itself is not a bad thing, what is a bad thing is the people that use that to come and benefit – the carbon cowboys.” 

He also emphasized the importance of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) for communities engaging in the carbon market.

Elijah Toirai, Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) and Communities Lead at Conservation International discussed registration for carbon credits and the importance of carbon market reports remaining public. “We are seeing a shift towards Indigenous Peoples communities becoming the carbon credit entity. The Indigenous Peoples’ communities and organizations are registering the projects. That way, when it comes to benefit sharing, the buyers actually then pay to these Indigenous Peoples’ organizations,” he said.

Joseph Itongwa, Coordinator of REPALEAC and IPACC Great Lakes representative, posed an important question: “Where can we report the wrongdoers in the carbon credit equation?”

The question and answer section presented the opportunity to exchange knowledge and information from other regions. 

“We, the Indigenous Peoples, have organized ourselves and have proposed our own climate strategy, called the Amazon Indigenous Network, in the face of this challenge. We are looking for the rights of Indigenous Peoples to come first, and the right of access to the territories. We are implementing REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) with the guidelines of the Amazon Indigenous Network,” said Fermín Chimatani Tayori of the National Association of Contract Executors for the Administration of Communal Reserves of Peru.

Panelists concluded that it is vital to ensure the respect of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the development of carbon markets. Indigenous Peoples need to be included in the design of these mechanisms so they can engage in carbon markets, if they so choose, in favor of their communities, landscapes, and cosmovision.

News

Panama’s President signs decree adopting the Indigenous Women’s Empowerment Plan

Indigenous women’s leadership and teamwork were important to achieve his historic act

On the occasion of Indigenous Women’s Day, President of the Republic of Panama Laurentino Cortizo Cohen signed the Executive Decree adopting the Plan for the Empowerment of Indigenous Women of Panama (PEMIP 2025).

“We don’t want to be in the statistics of vulnerability. We want to be in the statistics of empowered women, breaking barriers, women who fight every day to develop their territories,” said Sara Omi, PEMIP 2025 Coordinator and Emberá leader.

It was a historic act in which for the first time in the Republic of Panama a public policy of gender inclusion was established, aimed at promoting the integral development of Indigenous women within and outside the Indigenous territories. 

With this sanction, for the first time a public policy is established for the integral development of Indigenous women, important pillars for the conservation of their culture, demonstrating great leadership and capacity to contribute to the development of the nation,” said President Cortizo. 

About PEMIP

The Economic Empowerment Plan for Indigenous Women of Panama (PEMIP 2025) is a pioneering initiative that seeks to unite commitments between Indigenous women and public, private, and civil society actors, to carry out concrete actions that provide more and better opportunities for Indigenous women to fully develop their potential and capacity to contribute to the development and well-being of their families, territories, and country. 

Its objective is to advance the autonomy, full inclusion, and effective exercise of the economic rights of Indigenous women, without any type of discrimination and based on their protagonism and self-determination, with a timeline from 2022-2025. 

Signing ceremony

The key message of this event was teamwork. The Plan is a multisectoral initiative with the participation of 69 entities, such as public sector institutions governing economic-labor policies (Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Labor and Labor Development, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Authority), private sector (CECOM), development of Indigenous Peoples (Advisory Committee of Indigenous Women of Panama – CAMIP), NGOs (FSC Indigenous Foundation, City of Knowledge, AECID) and multilateral banks (Inter-American Development Bank, United Nations Development Program). 

At the event, we heard from Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, President of the Republic, Roger Tejada Bryden, Minister of MINGOB, Briseida Iglesias, Guna Ancestral Sage, Sara Omi Casamá, National Coordinator of PEMIP 2025, Meybi Chamarra, Coordinator of CAMIP, Aulina Ismare Opua, Cacica of the National Congress of the Wounaan People and member of the National Council for the Integral Development of Indigenous Peoples of Panama (CONDIPI), Ana Grigera, Gender and Diversity Specialist of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and María Ángeles Sallé, member of the PEMIP Technical Assistance Team and ENRED Panama.

A success factor to reach this day was that all stakeholders listened to Indigenous women and were open to working with different communities and empowering Indigenous leaders.

The Ministry of Government acknowledged that the FSC Indigenous Foundation plays an important role in facilitating this process. 

How we support PEMIP 2025

The FSC Indigenous Foundation (FSC-IF) is supporting the governance and implementation of this plan through the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) Program, working with Indigenous women and guided by their wisdom, knowledge, innovation, and leadership. IPARD is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and other private sector partners.

FSC-IF has a leading role in the PEMIP Strategic Sustainability Committee, working together with the IDB, CAMIP, the Ministry of Government, and ENRED, achieving many advances for the institutional strengthening of PEMIP and the implementation of CAMIP, such as workshops to expand their knowledge, manage the governance of PEMIP, empower their role in the Plan and be multiplier agents of change within their territories.   

We also support i) the institutional strengthening of CAMIP, ii) the implementation of PEMIP in coordination with the government and CAMIP, to carry out the implementation of PEMIP at the local and community level, iii) the promotion of the implementation of PEMIP and other basic policies such as the implementation of Law 37 and Law 301, the organic charters of different comarcas and collective lands, iv) expansion of other issues to other areas to be inclusive in social, education and health issues and security of their rights, v) strengthening alliances and governance of the PEMIP, creating operational manuals and creating a network that strengthens and can ensure the sustainability of the Plan.

We consider this Plan to be not only a pioneering but an integral initiative that supports all actions promoted for and by Indigenous Peoples, supporting PEMIP 2025 and CAMIP as safeguards for the future and for Mother Earth.

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