Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022 08:15 [IST]
Last Update: Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022 02:43 [IST]
There are an estimated 476 million indigenous peoples in the world living across 90 countries.
They make up less than 5 per cent of the world's population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures. Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. Indigenous peoples’ conceptualization of health and well-being is generally broader and more holistic, with health frequently viewed as both an individual and a collective right, strongly determined by community, land and the natural environment. The important role of indigenous communities in preserving, reviving, retaining, and transmitting the traditional ancestral knowledge in various fields of communal activities, including but not limited to effective and sustainable climate solutions, use of natural resources, protection of biodiversity, ensuring food security, promoting native languages and culture, and managing indigenous science and medicine is of utmost importance in this day and age. Article 24 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes the right of indigenous peoples to their traditional medicines, to maintain their health practices and to access social and health services without discrimination. In order to raise awareness of the needs of these population groups, including their health needs, every 9 August commemorates the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, chosen in recognition of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations held in Geneva in 1982.
Indigenous traditional knowledge can offer solutions to many of our common challenges. More than 28% of the global land area is owned, used or managed by indigenous peoples, including more than 40% of terrestrial protected areas and 37% of “all remaining natural lands. The importance of indigenous peoples for conservation is only slowly being recognized. Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ rights to land, benefit sharing and institutions is essential to meeting local and global conservation goals.
Now, the world has started to recognise the fact that Indigenous women are the backbone of indigenous peoples’ communities and play a crucial role in the preservation and transmission of traditional ancestral knowledge around the environment, traditional medicines, food systems, preservation of language and cultural heritage. This is also the theme and UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The world must highlight the role of indigenous women in preserving and passing on traditional knowledge. Indigenous women are knowledge keepers of traditional food systems and medicines. They are champions of indigenous languages and cultures. They defend the environment and indigenous peoples’ human rights. To build an equitable and sustainable future that leaves no one behind, we must amplify the voices of indigenous women.