Peru has made significant advances in the reduction of poverty, but many extractive projects threaten the ancestral lands of rural indigenous groups, as evidenced by the high disparities throughout the country, particularly between rural and urban communities.
Peru is a country rich in cultural heritage, with the second largest indigenous population in the Americas (45% of the total population, nearly 14 million people), and three official languages (Spanish, Quechua and Aymara). There is great natural diversity, as Peru boasts both the Andean mountain range and the Amazon rainforest.
Over the past ten years, Peru has made significant advances in the reduction of the national poverty rate (from 48.5% in 2004 to 23.9% in 2013) and demonstrated democratic progress. As one of the fastest growing economies in South America, the Peruvian government has made efforts to create a welcoming investment climate. As a result, many multinational corporations have turned to Peru for extractive projects such as mines, dams and oil fields. These projects threaten the ancestral lands of rural indigenous groups, and benefits from these natural resources are perceived to not be evenly distributed, as is further evidenced by the high disparities throughout the country, particularly between rural and urban communities.
Indigenous communities throughout Peru are banding together to call for more representative, inclusive, and multicultural policy and representation. Despite a national law in 1997 that criminalizes racial discrimination, indigenous communities are systematically marginalized and neglected from democratic processes. Work toward an inclusion agenda seeks equitable social progress and the protection of democratic representation for all Peruvian citizens.
Our Work in Peru
In Peru, The Hunger Project works in partnership with Chirapaq (Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Cultures of Peru), an organisation founded by both Andean and Amazonian people. The Hunger Project has been active in Peru since 1997.
Chirapaq works in four programmatic areas including:
- An Indigenous Women’s Programme working to strengthen and empower networks of indigenous women’s organisations;
- 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 Programme budget.
Chirapaq’s Indigenous Women’s Programme 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 organisations 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 this training 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 organisational roles. This joint effort with partner organisations 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 organisations.
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.