Image credit: Courtesy of Edu Leon, Ceibo Alliance

Protecting Indigenous Territories in the Upper Amazon through the Women’s Resistance Program

With an eye to the well-being of future generations, Indigenous women are on the frontlines protecting their forests, cultures, and families from the unrelenting threats of oil, mining, and industrial-scale agriculture in the upper Amazon. However, the ongoing impacts of colonialism, globalization and resource extraction have resulted in the marginalization of women from leadership positions, economic opportunities, and territorial defense efforts.

In response to the obstacles Indigenous women face across the region, the Indigenous organization Ceibo Alliance is working with Alexandra Narvaez and other women leaders to implement a Women’s Resistance program across more than 80 Indigenous communities and five million acres of rainforest. The program supports women defending Indigenous territories and ways of life through leadership and communications training. It also creates women-led economic enterprises, recovers traditional forest medicines, and supports women’s participation in community land patrols that play a critical role in protecting Indigenous territories.

Alexandra Narvaez is an example of the importance of uplifting women leaders and a success story of the Women’s Resistance program. As the first woman in the Kofán community of Sinangoe’s land patrol, Narvaez paved the way for women in her community to take a stand against illegal mining and poaching in their territory.

Narvaez’s experience as a leader within the land patrol positioned her as a powerful spokesperson for Sinangoe’s anti-mining struggle. Her leadership helped her people secure a historic legal victory in 2018, canceling 52 gold mining concessions. Then again, in 2022, when Sinangoe won a case before Ecuador’s Constitutional Court, establishing the nation’s first jurisprudence guaranteeing Indigenous peoples the right to “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” —a powerful tool for the protection of Indigenous lands against resource extraction.

Today, Narvaez serves as the president of Sinangoe’s women’s association. She is working with other women from her community to develop sustainable microenterprises to improve family livelihoods, including Sinangoe’s first eco-tourism project.

Support for the Women’s Resistance program will provide Narvaez and other Indigenous women with the leadership capacity, tools, and resources they need to be influential, respected leaders among their people in the fight to protect their territories and ancestral cultures.

Support women-led projects protecting the Earth.