Though South America has many water sources, many communities in the region go without sufficient clean drinking water. Lack of water puts a serious strain on women’s lives as well as their ability to farm. This is particularly true of Bolivian women living in the Chaco area, a region that is dry for many months of the year. During the dry period, communities rely on the muddy water that remains in the bed of the Rio Grande. Purifying the water with a local plant helps but it yields a product that is far from potable. The CASA Socioenvironmental Fund is an organization that runs many projects across South America with the objective of empowering local women so they can better serve their community and further environmental justice. The projects include water storage tanks for specific regions, developing farmers associations, and supporting indigenous female leaders. Video Credit: Fundo Casa Socioambiental. Caption: Video is in Spanish, but English subtitles are available.
Bolivian women are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as it is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and suffers from one of the worst patterns of gender inequality. Women in indigenous farmer communities are one of the hardest hit from climate change as agricultural production is put under peril leading to lower food security and higher food prices. As food supply becomes volatile, women, who are responsible for the provision of food to their family, are challenged to prepare enough nutritious food. Furthermore, men are pushed to migrate to find work in rural areas or coca plantations leaving women behind to raise children. The government and NGOs, such as INCCA, have been taking initiative in empowering women and teaching communities how to mitigate the effects of climate change. These initiatives started ten years ago with NGOs such as INCCA and Solidagro who implement conservation and food security programs. Photo Credit: Sanne Derks/Al Jazeera
This video tell the story of Jimena Lidia Huaylas and the eleven ‘Cholita’ climbers, Bolivian indigenous women, who, since December 2015, have been climbing mountains in their traditional garb to symbolize their efforts to combat sexism and patriarchy. Photo credit: Great Big Story
Soledad Miranda is among the emerging group of women construction workers of La Paz, Bolivia. She started working at age seven and received no schooling, like many other indigenous girls in her community. She survived an abusive marriage and she migrated with her 12 children to La Paz. First, she washed clothes and sold soda and beer in the streets. After four years in La Paz, she managed to find a job as a construction worker for the municipal government. Along with over 450 other women, she received training in painting, plumbing, coatings/insulations, tiling and remodeling. Construction work is no longer a man’s job in La Paz, it is increasingly done by women who are trained and economically empowered. Today, she dreams of building her own construction company. Photo credit: UN Women/David Villegas
Lucrecia Huayhua Choque, an Indigenous Aymara woman, was sent away from her community in Cocapacabana at the age of eight to the city of La Paz where she worked long hours without pay. She returned to her community at the age of 22, when she was forced into marriage. After a lifetime of difficulties, she was selected to participate in the UN-funded School for Women Leaders, where she learned about women's rights and gender equality. Now she is a passionate advocate for women, traveling to various urban and rural communities to fight against violence and exploitation with education. Photo credit: OMAK
The women-led community of María Auxiliadora, on the outskirts of Cochabamba, promotes women’s land rights and offers women a safe place and economic independence. María Eugenia, current President of the community, came here with her son to escape her violent ex-husband and build a new life. Photo credit: Carey Averbrook
Carmen Capriles of Reacción Climática, Bolivia shares her vision for climate justice, Indigenous rights, just development and gender justice in an interview with members of GenderCC during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP21 climate negotiations in Paris. Photo credit: GenderCC
The women of María Auxiliadora, outside of Cochabamba, Bolivia are demonstrating to the world what resilience looks like, from their efforts in climate change adaptation and ecological farming to their work to confront abuse, violence against women and patriarchy. In this piece we hear from Bolivian women’s activist Leny Olivera and photographer Carey Averbook, who spent several months documenting the women-led collective community. Photo credit: Carey Averbook
Indigenous women in Latin America are at the forefront of efforts to protect human rights and Mother Earth. The women of the Network of Women in Defence of Mother Earth in Bolivia, such as Margarita Aquino, and Doña Máxima of Peru, are leading the charge to oppose extractive industries. Women like María Eugenia are part of intentional community of Mária Auxiliadora in Bolivia, educating on how violence against women is connected to violence against the Earth. Photo credit: Photo credit: Maxima Acuña
Maria Vani of the Mosetén Nation is Bolivia’s first Indigenous solar engineer and resident solar grandmother. Through training at Barefoot College in India, Vani now installs and maintains solar panels for rural and Indigenous community members in Villa Concepcion, offering a cleaner, more affordable energy alternative. Photo credit: WECAN International
This powerful piece written from the frontlines of the People’s Climate Summit in Lima by Leny Olivera examines what authentic inclusion of women in the climate movement looks like. She offers a true-life example of a just transition to a sustainable and more inclusive system in the form of Community María Auxiliadora, in Bolivia. Furthermore, the author points to that inextricable link between extractive industries (or the causes of climate change) and the violence against and subjugation of women. Photo credit: The Democracy Center
This profile of the women-lead Maria Auxiliadora community in Cocabamba, Bolivia, highlights the innovative leadership of local women to fight both patriarchy and climate change. For example, Doña Irene Cardozo farms her own land and keeps her own home, finding support in this community after escaping a violent household. Doña Rosa Angulo speaks about learning community and solidarity via collectively dehydrating vegetables for consumption and sale. Photo credit: Carey Averbook
Rosa Angulo is one of many women in her community demonstrating resilience to the impacts of climate change. Rosa has been growing her own food for years and now preserves many of her vegetables, ensuring food is available for her family at all times. She began dehydrating vegetables after ongoing occurrences of drought and local food shortages. Despite the challenges of climate change, Rosa is able to grow and eat her own organic produce. Photo credit: Carey Averbook
Senior Advisor on Climate and Energy at WECF, Claire Greensfelder interviews Carmen Capriles,the co-founder of Reacción Climática, an NGO in Bolivia that focuses on raising awareness to climate change locally and engages mostly young people in climate action. Capriles talks about her path as a young activist in college and her partnership with 350.org before founding Reacción Climática. Her organization understands the importance of the more vulnerable groups to climate change, such as indigenous peoples, youth, and women, and acts on it by conducting research at the COPs and on the ground in Bolivia.
Feminist Perspectives Towards Transforming Economic Power: A Women’s Rights Perspective From Bolivia
"Buen Vivir: An Introduction From a Women's Rights Perspective in Bolivia", written by Martha Eugenia Lanza Meneses, a gender research fellow at Fundación Colectivo Cabildeo Bolivia, and edited by the Association for Women in Development, is part of a series leading up to the 12th AWID International Forum on Women's Rights and Development promoting different actions on development being implemented by feminist groups all over the world. This specific report is about Bolivia and its concept of buen vivir (living well, in English) which is the idea of protecting nature and its original form, shifting production and consumption to a different kind of development. The article presents the use of buen vivir in Bolivia's public policies, and introduces the concept of gender by highlighting the patriarchal structure of decision-making in various communities. Photo credit: AWID