AIPP Gender Policy

Background and context

AIPP is working for the promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples. The rights of indigenous peoples are part of the global human rights framework, and the UNDRIP is an expression of the recognition of the fact that the previously existing human rights instruments have not been sufficient, and that effective protection of the collective rights of indigenous peoples requires more explicit recognition. UNDRIP articulates the minimum standards required for the realization of the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples. Women’s rights also required this specific attention. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was passed to address gender inequality in particular the discrimination and marginalization of women across the world.

It is widely recognized that indigenous peoples are among the most marginalized and vulnerable groups. Within indigenous communities, women often represent the most disadvantaged category. Although the status of indigenous women varies from one community to another and from one region to another, as indigenous persons and as women, they are confronted with multiple forms of discrimination. Indigenous women experience racism and discrimination from the dominant cultures and nation-states. In addition to discrimination against their indigenous identities, indigenous peoples often also face socio-economic marginalization, disproportionately forming the poorest segments of society. These two externally enforced forms of discrimination – ethnic and economic – can result in violation of the rights of indigenous women by state agencies, legislative and executive government, dominant societal forces and others.

Within the indigenous society too, as women they are often stereotyped as being fit only for domestic work and prevented from leadership or sometimes even involvement in community affairs. Women are considered inferior to men. Many indigenous communities continue the traditional male dominated socio-political systems where women are not fully involved in decision-making. This despite the important and indispensible role and contributions of indigenous women in sustainable resource management, food production and security, enhancement of traditional knowledge, peace building and conflict transformation, meeting the basic needs of the family and community, strengthening social cohesion, among others. The almost nonexistent participation of indigenous women in decision making in customary institutions and the related or corresponding state structure reproduces and reinforces the discrimination that they are already experiencing.

Indigenous women, compared to indigenous men, suffer from lower levels of access to appropriate education, basic health services and employment. Given the already difficult conditions of indigenous communities in terms of basic social services, this is compounded by the traditional view of indigenous communities as well as larger society that men are more deserving of education. Likewise, the specific reproductive health of indigenous women is also not given due consideration. This condition makes indigenous women even more vulnerable to illiteracy, health problems, inequality of opportunities and their overall development.

These specific and multiple sources of discrimination combine in complex forms, and require specific responses. These responses must be tailored not only to the specific needs of women, but to the specific needs of indigenous women. In recognition of this, AIPP has developed a separate program to promote and support indigenous women’s rights. AIPP, as an indigenous rights advocacy organization, is concerned with equity and social justice in general and gender equality and equity in particular. AIPP therefore has to ensure that these principles are promoted and carried forward by its governance bodies, programmes and work ethics as a matter of practice and accountability, in addition to its specific program on indigenous women. In order to achieve this, this gender policy is thereby formulated.

As an organizational Policy, it consists of basic principles and operational guidelines to be carried out by the governing body and other mechanisms of the organization as well as adherence by the members as a matter of accountability to the organization.

In this policy, gender equality is understood here as encompassing both equality and equity, which are defined as follows:

  1. Equality means treating all individuals equally in spite of individual differences.
  2. Equity means treating each individual according to their individual differences, thus providing them according to their requirement.

Gender equity is the process of being fair to women and men. To ensure fairness, strategies and measures must often be available to compensate for women’s historical and social disadvantages that prevent women and men from otherwise operating on a level playing field. Equity leads to equality.

Gender equality requires equal enjoyment by women and men of socially-valued goods, opportunities, resources and rewards. Where gender inequality exists, it is generally women who are excluded or disadvantaged in relation to decision-making and access to economic and social resources.

Therefore a critical aspect of promoting gender equality is the empowerment of women, with a focus on identifying and redressing power imbalances and giving women more autonomy to manage their own lives. Gender equality does not mean that men and women become the same; only that access to opportunities and life changes is neither dependent on, nor constrained by, their gender. Achieving gender equality requires women’s empowerment to ensure that decision- making at private and public levels, and access to resources, are no longer weighted in men’s favour, so that both women and men can fully participate as equal partners in productive and reproductive life.

For indigenous women, gender equality and empowerment refers to the enjoyment of both their individual and collective rights as indigenous peoples. Further, it strengthens the equitable entitlements, role and contributions of indigenous women in indigenous societies especially on sustainable resource management, community development and maintaining social cohesion among others.

Through the adoption of this Gender Policy, AIPP seeks to make sure that:

  1. the principle of gender equality is consistently applied in all decision-making and action and at all levels of the organization;
  2. there are standards against which AIPP office bearers and staff can be held accountable.