Indigenous women, voices that challenge a world of inequalities

By Yolanda Salazar

La Paz, Oct 22 (EFE).- Rosa Jalja remembers being called a “filthy Indian,” Otilia Lux was told she was a national disgrace when she took on a senior government role and Elvira Pablo saw how her mother was treated for not speaking Spanish.

All of these people share something in common: they are indigenous women who stood up to discrimination.

Indigenous women make up 8.5% percent of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean region, which is around 28 million overall, according to a report from the ??Continental Network of Indigenous Women (ECMIA).

While some human rights progress has been made in recent years, indigenous women continue to face daily discrimination in many aspects of life, a predicament that perpetuates a massive inequality gap in the region.

It is a situation that underpins indigenous womens’ limited access to justice, education, health and politics, said Bárbara Ortiz, an expert from the United Nations Women’s office in the Americas and the Caribbean.

According to Ortiz, discrimination can be found “in countries with large percentages of indigenous populations like Bolivia, Guatemala and Mexico as well as those with smaller communities like Argentina and Uruguay.”


Rosa Jalja, a 68-year-old Aymara woman from Bolivia, said that something her grandfather once told her motivated her to study and develop her passions — radio, cinema and giving a voice to indigenous women who suffer violence.

She began her first job as a housekeeper at the age of 13 after her family moved to La Paz, the capital. It was during this employment that she remembers being called “a filthy Indian” by her employer’s children.

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