Indigenous women play a vital role in the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge

Despite strong international commitments to preserve and protect traditional knowledge, practices and creativity, the exploitation of indigenous peoples and their resources continues. In some countries, these resources, including sacred objects, are threatened, used or patented for commercial purposes without permission.

The protection of traditional knowledge can be particularly difficult. This is the case when it comes to the role of indigenous women in the production, safeguarding and maintenance of fragile resources, such as their languages. The voice of Indigenous women must therefore be heard more clearly in the development of policies on cultural heritage and cultural expression.

Measures to be taken should include the establishment of specific legal regimes to ensure that indigenous women can benefit from their own knowledge, prevent its illegal use by others and have it rightly recognized internationally. An environment that encourages individuals and social groups, especially indigenous women, to create, produce, disseminate, distribute and have access to their own cultural expressions should be created. Indigenous women should be meaningfully involved in decision-making about how their heritage is used, cared for and managed.

In March this year, the Commission on the Status of Women encouraged Member States to ensure that the perspectives of all indigenous and rural women and girls are taken into account, with their full and equal participation in the design, to the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and activities that affect their livelihoods, well-being and resilience.

UN Women recognizes the potential of traditional knowledge held by indigenous women to eradicate poverty, improve sustainable development, food security and biodiversity. We are committed to working with Indigenous women around the world to ensure their rights, voices and experiences are protected and amplified, and to promote their contributions to advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.