MANILA – National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Chairperson, Sec. Allen A. Capuyan, on Thursday said participation, consultation, and consent of indigenous peoples (IPs) that include indigenous women and girls is crucial to the global goal of building back better.
In a speech during the 79th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Capuyan said NCIP, the state mechanism mandated to respect, recognize, protect and promote the rights of IPs, is bolstering efforts to assure IP mandatory representation in policy-making bodies and local legislative councils.
"The NCIP facilitates the process whereby IP leaders are rather selected not elected by their respective communities themselves guided by their customary laws or indigenous processes to become their IP mandatory representative or IPMRs," he said.
Coupled with the IP mandatory representation, Capuyan said community consultations and assemblies encourage indigenous women and girls' participation as they have been more effective and inclusive.
He said indigenous women and girls have many unique and responsive approaches to share and contribute as they are the current and future bearers of indigenous knowledge, be it on health, agriculture, food, family and community security, environment, land, and resources.
Capuyan said all these tenets are anchored on Republic Act 8371, or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.
"The right of IPs to participate fully at all levels of decision-making, the equal enjoyment and opportunities of indigenous women with men in matters which may affect their rights, lives, and destinies as well as maintain and develop their Indigenous Political Structures and be given mandatory representation are clearly elaborated and should not be taken for granted," Capuyan said.
To truly facilitate indigenous women's participation in the United Nations, Capuyan said the agency looks forward to the establishment of a category for Indigenous Peoples Political Structures or the equivalent traditional organizations that have evolved through generations, recognized and respected through IP customary laws where indigenous women are participating in matters affecting them.
"Given the serious consequences of COVID-19 to indigenous communities, effective participation, consultation and consent of indigenous women and girls is the pivotal way to build back better," Capuyan added.
Described as an international bill of rights for women, CEDAW is an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. (PR)