Women connecting with their roots

indigenous woman
indigenous woman
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Throughout history, women have played a fundamental role in the preservation of biodiversity; therefore, it is not difficult to imagine that they have been key to the conservation of natural resources.

Women who for centuries have understood that our well-being and future as humanity depend on a healthy and respectful relationship with the forest, the ocean and the entire planet. Women who have tilled, tended and harvested. Women who have fought and stood in the face of the injustices that have been committed against Nature. Women with tenacity and strength in their hands, their feet, their faces and their whole bodies. Women who change the world from their spaces, brave women, women who transform.

Women like Digna Rojas Morales, Doris Ríos Ríos and Elides Solano Rivera; they carry like a light in their chests the pride and privilege given to them by the universe of being called Indigenous Women.

"Having been born in Cabagra makes me the warrior and courageous woman that characterizes me today. With a deep-rooted cultural knowledge, the experience of my values also has a Bribri indigenous base. It fills me with pride, to be part of this great cultural variety that we know today," says Digna proudly.

For Doris, to be a woman from China Kichá is synonymous with culture, history, identity and above all with struggle, "I know that things don't just happen, you are not born for the sake of being born, there is simply a purpose and the purpose is to be in this process of struggle that we face as a territory," says Doris without a shadow of doubt in her voice.

Women who are key to preserve the culture, to make forests green, to fill the seas with fish and coral, to heal our Earth. As Elides says, to be an indigenous woman in Terraba is her connection with the land, with nature, with medicine, with a different language and with a different way of seeing life.

Women who build and innovate

To exclude women from biodiversity conservation is inefficient. Failure to generate suitable conditions to strengthen their capacities directly implies reducing the quality of political force in the protection of natural capital, of opportunities to build nature-based solutions and of advocacy to promote the necessary resilience needed in the Anthropocene era.

This is why, knowing the political, transformative and innovative role of women and from the vision of essential development for all indigenous people, Raíces, the Spanish word for Roots was born. Raíces is the first business incubation program for tourism ventures of indigenous people, which in its first phase works with the territories of Buenos Aires de Puntarenas and Pérez Zeledón in Costa Rica. Raíces is currently in the prototyping phase and in this first edition has 14 entrepreneurs where Doris, Digna and Elides are part of the program, along with 5 more women.

"For me, Raíces means an opportunity to strengthen our dreams, the desire to continue improving the economic, health, and living conditions of our people. It is an opportunity to open a window to the world of our food, the knowledge of my grandmothers and grandfathers, the techniques of work and above all to strengthen the economy of us women of the indigenous peoples," mentions Elides.

For Doris, this program has had a great impact, as she has recognized the importance of her knowledge, her identity and the value of the natural resources of her territory. For her, being part of this first phase is a great responsibility, but also an opportunity to demonstrate the value of her knowledge, "Raíces has had an impact on my confidence, on not being afraid, on feeling capable as a woman".

Incorporating women in programs that allow them to generate creative solutions to multiple crises and providing them with innovative tools to tap into their potential is the path to gender equality and their autonomy in all areas. The women in Raíces are women who make decisions, who raise their voices in favor of the conservation of natural resources, their identity, their culture and the well-being of all the people in their community, women who have impacted their people with their ideas, their vision, their tenacity and their confidence.

My initiative is ecotourism, since we want to protect biodiversity and indigenous wel-lbeing. I am happy to provide these services and by implementing activities we can make people learn more about our theology. So far the impact has been very positive as it boosts personal and community development," Digna mentions proudly.

And these are just three stories, among all the stories of women who move the world every day; that remind us and evidence the need to continue creating conditions for strengthening the economic autonomy of women with innovation, as a means to build fairer, more inclusive and egalitarian societies for women.

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Raíces was created under the leadership of the National Commission for the Management of Biodiversity (CONAGEBIO) of the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), the National Indigenous Roundtable (MNICR) and the UNDP's Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN). The program is now a reality thanks to partnerships with the Development Banking System (SBD), its operating agency Impact Hub and the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT). These efforts have been joined by new partners such as the National Learning Institute (INA) and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MTSS).

To learn more please visit: www.raicescr/english.com