Role women are playing in Bolivia’s indigenous and environmental movement



On this International Women’s Day, consider the important role women are playing in Bolivia’s indigenous and environmental movement: A river is the only highway that should run through the heart of Bolivia’s Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory. The protected 5,000-square-mile Amazonian park, known by its Spanish acronym, TIPNIS, is home to more than 10,000 indigenous people, whose traditions and lands have changed very little for centuries—until now. A Brazilian company wants to build a high-speed highway right through the center of this pristine rainforest.

The megaproject would bring farm development, illegal deforestation, wildlife poaching, and a loss of indigenous culture. Sensing imminent threat to their customs, children, and environment, women raised their voices. For the first time ever, they united Bolivia’s indigenous groups and prompted communities to participate in massive protest marches. In 2011 and again in 2012, women, men, and children trekked more than 360 miles from Bolivia’s lowlands over the Andes and into the capital of La Paz. On the doorstep of the president, women leaders like Justa Cabrera and Bertha Bejarano demanded a voice in the development decisions that impact indigenous people’s lives and lands. (Photo courtesy of Territorios en Resistencia.). In GGF Bulletin.

Ichoa resiste