On 5 December is a significant date in the women’s agenda, as the International Day of Indigenous Women is commemorated. This day was instituted in 1983 in Bolivia, during the Second Meeting of Organizations and Movements of America Tiahuanaco, to remind Bartolina Sisa, Aymara heroine who fought against the colonial power of the Spaniards and was tortured and killed by the royalists on September 5 1782 in La Paz, Bolivia’s capital. He was 29 and became a symbol throughout Latin America.
Bartolina Sisa was commander of indigenous battalions and guerrilla groups formed in the late eighteenth century to lead, with her husband Tupac Karati, the anticolonial rebellion in Upper Peru. In addition to the territorial and cultural usurpation of the invaders, indigenous women were victims of labor and sexual exploitation by the Spaniards. They were raped and considered war trophies, as is still happening today in other parts of the world.
Sisa is, along with Micaela Bastidas, a benchmark for many women of the indigenous peoples of Bolivia and Peru. Bastidas was the companion and counselor of Tupac Amaru II, Inca leader who led the greatest rebellion that occurred in Latin America against the Spanish colonization in the eighteenth century. From the city of Tinta (Cusco, Peru), Micaela took over the supply of weapons and food for the rebel troops and adopted strategic decisions in battle. As Bartolina Sisa, he was cruelly tortured and killed when the uprising failed. On May 18, 1781 I saw hanged his son Hippolytus and executioners tore his tongue and strangled with a garrote in the presence of her husband, who was also executed that day.
Generalizing about the situation of indigenous women today involves simplifying its reality and plurality (the UN estimates that there are over 370 million indigenous people in 70 countries worldwide), but, knowing this, yes there are some common claims. Many suffer double or multiple discrimination, because they are women and because of their cultural or ethnic origin. Among their common claims is the control of their land and property, respect for their language and customs, combating violence (gender and by their states) that many children and adults suffer as well as quality health care , especially in reproductive health.
Also they claim to be part of the dialogue at the local, national and international forums in which decisions about their future are taken and find common ground and mutual respect with other cultures, like the West, which continues to transmit an image of their communities full of stereotypes and generalities.
Therefore, on September 5, next to 9 August, International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, is a vindictive date for Latin American Indians and a day to remember their ancestors, who gave their lives to protect their freedom and autonomy.
This date has become increasingly important in the feminist agenda, especially since the organization called Community feminism and by the increased presence of indigenous defending their rights and history in international organizations.