Peru is the fourth most populous country in South America with a total population of 29.5 million, 45 percent of which are indigenous. The Peruvian indigenous population consists of a variety of native ethnic groups, those who speak Quechua and those who speak Aymara being the largest. Poverty levels in Peru are highest for indigenous groups. Forty-three percent of all households are facing moderate poverty and 52 percent of those living in extreme poverty are indigenous. Indigenous women in Peru are a particularly disadvantaged group, enduring among the worst conditions of poverty, lack of health care and fundamental human rights.
In Peru, The Hunger Project works in partnership with Chirapaq (Center for Indigenous Peoples' Cultures of Peru), an organization founded by both Andean and Amazonian people.
Chirapaq works in four programmatic areas including:
- An Indigenous Women's Program working to strengthen and empower networks of indigenous women's organizations;
- Food security;
- Ñoqanchiq, which focuses on youth development; and
- Cultural and political advocacy.
The Hunger Project's funding represents 21 percent of Chirapaq's total budget and 87 percent of the Indigenous Women's Program budget.
Chirapaq's Indigenous Women's Program builds leadership capacity and specific skills of indigenous women representing 37 language groups from 14 states across the country. This work is highly leveraged through the Permanent Workshop of Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Women, a network of 30 women's organizations which was co-founded by Chirapaq Director, Tarcila Rivera Zea.
At quarterly workshop sessions, Chirapaq trains groups of 120 indigenous leaders, enhancing knowledge and skills, educating them on human and indigenous rights, and developing their autonomy and decision-making capacity to gain presence in the local, regional and national levels.
Participants replicate these trainings in their own base networks, which include 1,800 local leaders, mostly women. In turn, the local leaders conduct activities in health, nutrition, food security and protection of indigenous and human rights in rural communities across Peru, impacting the lives of over 1.5 million people.
Promoting Leadership Roles
Chirapaq works to promote the participation of indigenous women within their current organizational roles. This joint effort with partner organizations aims to improve self-esteem and affirm leadership qualities through an assertion of cultural identity and gender, thereby increasing women's roles as active participants in their organizations.
Advocating for Indigenous Rights
Chirapaq is a member of the Consultative Body of Indigenous Peoples of CAN (Comunidad Andina de Naciones), which provide them with greater influence in regional politics involving women and indigenous peoples. In addition, Chirapaq represents the priorities of Peruvian Indigenous Women regionally through its participation in The Continental Indigenous Network and at an international level, through the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
The Hunger Project has been active in Peru since 1997.