Peru: Empowering Indigenous Women to Protect Their Rights


Update to the Global Board
(October 2008)

Chirapaq (Center for Indigenous Peoples' Cultures of Peru)

Executive Summary

The Hunger Project and Chirapaq Center for Indigenous Cultures of Peru are working together to strengthen the leadership and civic participation of rural indigenous women leaders. This work is carried out through direct empowerment of individual leaders and through strengthening the organizational capacities of the 30 indigenous organizations that are members of the "Permanent Workshop." Under the umbrella of achieving the MDGs, activities are implemented at the local, national and international levels to:

  • Reaffirm leaders' commitment to the indigenous agenda;
  • Promote access to political, social and economic opportunities; and
  • Educate and advocate in the mainstream culture about the needs of the indigenous community.

During 2008, social conditions in Peru deteriorated for indigenous communities with the implementation of national policies that violated indigenous rights to ensure intercultural and inclusive education, to protect biodiversity, to maintain traditional knowledge, to protect collective intellectual property, and to exercise free prior informed consent over resource extraction from their land and territories. At the same time, the global food crisis has increased challenges to establishing food security.

Against this backdrop, Chirapaq's program for indigenous women achieved significant advances in empowering indigenous women to be willing and able to protect their individual and collective rights through training, communication and collective action.


Launched training modules on "Communication Skills for Leadership and Alliance Building" and "Indigenous Rights and International Agreements" through Indigenous Women's Permanent Workshop.

  • The 2nd National Workshop in Lima hosted 20 leaders from 18 organizations;
  • Regional Workshop sessions took place in Huancayo and Ayacucho regions; and
  • 19 radio programs related to indigenous rights, food sovereignty, and intercultural education.

Increased food security and sovereignty.

  • Increased yields of maize, potato, mashua, olluco, grazing grasses, oats and beans through improved compost and other methods; and
  • 14 animators completed training, with 39 currently in training.

Intercultural and bi-lingual education formally established in Ayacucho region (although Quechua is officially a national language, schools have taught only in Spanish).

  • There is now an intercultural approach entirely through the active participation of indigenous organizations, legally mandating use of official languages of Quechua and Ashaninka in public places and schools in the Ayacucho region.

Increased the participation of rural women leaders in international forums.

  • 57 women leaders participated in six South American regional and international forums in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Lima and New York including topics such as: entrepreneurial enterprises, environment and climate change, indigenous rights and policy influence.

Program and Policy Impact.

  • Chirapaq has a central leadership role in the Southern Region of Continental Network of Indigenous Women. One example of the results is 150 leaders trained in monitoring and documentation of discrimination incidents.

Objectives Not Yet Achieved

We have not yet fully achieved our objective of increasing solidarity and collaboration among the 30 member organizations of the Permanent Workshop and between the Permanent Workshop and other organizations and networks.

Maintaining productive partnerships in the alliance of individuals and organizations from the great diversity of indigenous cultures-both Amazonian and Andean, from different countries, languages, traditions, genders, political views and agendas is a constant challenge. We must strengthen alliance building, peaceful conflict resolution, and communication/negotiation skills.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Chirapaq will continue to submit regular reports of progress and results based on its own internal monitoring and evaluation systems.


Chirapaq, in partnership with the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and Intellectual Property (INDECOPI), has worked with a group of 24 Andean and 25 Amazonian volunteers to recover 133 registered items of communal knowledge: 38 Ashaninka and 95 Quechua. Traditional knowledge is an important economic and social resource: for example, knowledge of medicinal qualities of plants is a valuable asset in the pharmaceutical market.

Future Plans

As part of the overall Strategic Planning Process, a main priority is to develop a new regional strategy to launch in 2009.

Profile of a Leader

Nelly Marcos Manrique, Ashaninka woman from Junin, Peru, 35 years old, four children

Nelly is a traditional doctor. Thanks to her participation in the Indigenous Women's Permanent Workshop trainings, Nelly was able to recognize the value of her knowledge of the healing powers of nature, which is her heritage from Nomatisguenga ancestors. Nelly became known for her leadership through her participation in local and regional organizations, and by protecting and promoting traditional knowledge, indigenous rights and women's issues through local civic organizations.

In 2004, Nelly was elected Municipal Agent in the Black River District and participates in the Group Work of Indigenous Peoples of the United Nations.

One of Nelly's proudest accomplishments is that she was able to recover land that belonged to Ashinka ancestors but had been taken away from the community for commercial purposes. She achieved this because in the Permanent Workshop, she had learned the protections provided in international law under ILO Convention 169.

Country Profile - Peru

Population (male, female)


(14,700,000 male, 14,500,000 female)

Indigenous population45%
Percent of population in rural areas24%
Infant mortality rate29.53/1,000 births
Maternal mortality rate410/100,000 births
Life expectancy69.9 years
Percent of population undernourished12% (2002-2004)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.5% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths4,200 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS82,000 (2003 est.)
Literacy rate (male, female)87.5% (male 93.5%, female 82.1%)
Primary school enrollment (male, female)99.2% (97% of males, 96% of females)
GDP per capitaUS$6,624
Population earning less than $1/day10.5%

Sources:, 2008 World Population Data Sheet, CIA World Fact Book