Wayuu women in Colombia ask UN Permanent Forum to act


Forest Peoples Programme

Date of publication: 
14 October 2010

In July 2010, the Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu, an indigenous women’s organisation, created by and composed of members of the Wayuu community in Colombia, presented a report to the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), denouncing the multiple forms of human rights violations that Wayuu women experience due to their gender and because they belong to an indigenous group fighting for the recognition of their land rights in Colombia.

The report highlights that Wayuu community members, especially women, experience threats towards their physical integrity and their cultural and territorial rights on a daily basis. Their vulnerable situation has been acknowledged by several international human rights institutions, like the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People and on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

According to Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu, the Wayuu community is being affected by two major issues: firstly, the Colombian armed conflict and secondly, the activities of multinational corporations on their ancestral territories without their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). As a result of these incursions on their customary lands, the Wayuu are suffering physical injuries, being forcibly displaced and even killed, and are struggling with the impacts of the pollution of their environment .

Due to the presence of military troops in the Wayuu territories, numerous killings and disappearances have occurred since 2004. Many Wayuu community members have been forced to relocate to Venezuela, leaving their territories due to this violence and ethnic harassment. Furthermore, international companies are exploiting the Wayuu’s natural resources without their consent, destroying their environment and depriving them of their traditional way of life.

The report to the UNPFII explains how Wayuu women experience multiple forms of discrimination, because of their gender and ethnicity. However, despite the serious intimidation and difficulties faced by its leaders, Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu has raised its voice to report this situation to the UNPFII, asking them to urge the Colombian government to address the Wayuu’s situation and take all the necessary measures to ensure that their rights to land and natural resources are fully guaranteed.