May 24th, 2012 | by Anna Kramer
Kichwa women in Chirikyacu, Peru, work together to cultivate traditional crops. Photo: Percy Ramirez/Oxfam America
The more I learn about Oxfam’s work in South America—and I’ve learned a lot in recent months—the more impressed I am by the power of women.
Indigenous people in countries like Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador have experienced centuries of discrimination and exclusion. Even today, many remain trapped in poverty. That’s why Oxfam works with indigenous groups to protect their fundamental rights and increase their political and decision-making power.
While many groups face ethnic discrimination, indigenous women have to overcome gender bias, too. A recent Oxfam report found that although women in Peru made significant contributions to the indigenous peoples’ movement, they are still less likely to hold elected office, get an education, or earn a living wage. They also face new challenges in their traditional roles as food producers. “Women are feeling the effects [of climate change] more, because they are more tied to the earth,” said Nancy Iza Moreno of Oxfam partner group the Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas (CAOI). “They are the ones who work in the gardens and in the fields.”
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February 28th, 2010 | by Chris Hufstader
After the quake in Chile. Photo by Victor Ruiz Caballero/Reuters, courtesy of Alertnet.
There’s a tendency to compare disasters, and I am sure many of us started to do that Saturday morning when we heard about the 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile. Another earthquake! Is it like the one in Haiti?
The answer is of course no, Chile is a completely different place. Although the earthquake was a significantly stronger (something like 500 times stronger than the 12 January Haiti quake, if that is even possible), it hit a much less densely populated area with a government equipped with resources to respond.
I immediately remembered an article on the BBC web site I read two days after the now infamous Port-au-Prince quake last month. It attempted something incredibly difficult: comparing the relative size, death toll, economic impact, proximity to urban areas and the poverty and population density in affected areas of three earthquakes in China (2008), Italy (2009) and Haiti (2010). Read the rest of this entry »
March 4th, 2009 | by Chris Hufstader
Indigenous woman in Cusco, Peru, shows visitors where her farm has been taken over by a copper mine. Photo by Diego Nebel/Oxfam America
Yesterday, my colleague Keith in Washington, DC, released a paper about violence in Peru over mining.
Over the years I have visited a few communities in Peru where violent conflict has erupted; I have spoken with people who’ve been beaten, imprisoned, or persecuted by the government for standing up for their rights. The alleged crimes vary. Refusing to sell your farm to a mining company—or holding out for a better price—comes up a lot. One indigenous woman from the highlands of Cusco told me how the police threw her in jail, accusing her of trespassing on her own land! Her farm is now part of a copper mine. It took two decades before she was compensated as part of a conflict-resolution effort Oxfam helped create. It took years to sort out the rights violations, relocate farmers, and set up a development fund.
Right now, the same mistakes are being made in northern Peru, where a British and Chinese mining company is trying to set up a copper mine in the Rio Blanco region. Read the rest of this entry »
February 4th, 2009 | by Chris Hufstader
Lorenzo Charupá and his wife Polonia Tomicha at a cattle cooperative in Monte Verde, Bolivia. Photo by Chris Hufstader/Oxfam America.
What metal makes a super-light battery for a hybrid car, and also can alter your brain chemistry? That’s right, it’s lithium! There was a fascinating article about a huge deposit of lithium in the salt flats of southwest Bolivia in the New York Times on Monday. Reporter Simon Romero got a great comment from a local leader of salt gatherers and farmers looking to share in the revenues from lithium:
“We are poor, but we are not stupid peasants.” Read the rest of this entry »
January 20th, 2009 | by Chris Hufstader
After putting up my last post that included Nina Palomino, the young woman in Peru, I realized something: I have some video of her working at her loom, which you can see here. Read the rest of this entry »