Inspire. Mobilise. Act.
Interview by Sandra Laquelle, Women Climate Action
Hindou OUMAROU IBRAHIM is an environmental activist and member of the Mbororo community, a pastoral people. Born in Chad, she founded the Association of Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad and represented civil society during the signing of the Paris Agreement in April 2016. She tells us more about her mobilization to give more voice to indigenous peoples and to women on the international stage and to defend the environment in a context of increasingly arid climate.
Dear Hindou, you were born in 1983 in Chad, and you are currently the Coordinator for the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad. Could you tell us a few words about your background?
I grew up in Chad, then I went to school in N’Djamena. I studied accounting finance and project management, before focusing my professional experience on the issue of human rights and indigenous peoples and environment protection. In 1999, I founded the Association of Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, an organization focused on promoting and protecting human rights, indigenous peoples rights including the rights of girls and women and inspiring leadership and advocacy in environmental protection through the 3 Rio Conventions (UNFCCC, UNCCD, UNCBD). We help the community to implement project of mitigation and adaptation at national and local levels. As for international dimension, since 2005 I participated in international negotiations on climate, sustainable development, biodiversity, and environmental protection.
How would you explain your specific focus on the action of women, as regards with sustainable development and human rights?
Women are at the forefront of change. Personally, it was my mother who strongly supported me all along. She pushed me to go to school, but she has also been attentive to the preservation of my identity. I always keep in mind that a high number of girls or women in my community did not have the same chance as I had. Many of them are doubly marginalized: inside their community and outside the community because of the simple status of woman.
You regularly point out the impact of climate change on the indigenous peoples. Do you feel that things are changing, that the international community and national actors are becoming increasingly aware of the threat of climate change on indigenous peoples?
Indeed, we can observe some positive evolutions. First, the recognition of the traditional knowledge of indigenous communities and the need to protect their rights have become increasingly significant. Moreover, representative organizations of indigenous peoples now have an official status and indigenous peoples are considered into specific institutional bodies. Most notably, the establishment of platform called “Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP)” in the framework of the UNFCCC decision CP/135 contributes to give a voice to indigenous peoples and to enhance our engagement in the UNFCCC process. So, all these achievements are encouraging : step by step, we are coming there! Nevertheless, I have to say that the participation of indigenous to strategic decision making is still a challenge.
We know that vulnerable parts of the population are more affected by climate change and by the increasing scarcity of resources, especially women. Did you observe this impact on the ground in Chad or elsewhere and to what respect?
Yes, we do observe it! One example: during dry seasons, working men of the community (for instance pastoralist, farmers and fishermen) now need to go to the town to find a job. Women remain alone and have to cope with every aspect of life: ensuring food security and cooking, taking care of the elderly, children and fragile populations etc. Ironically, they don’t have land rights of the land they are in charge of. From this prospect, you can see that the issue of land rights is key to address both women rights and climate change.
Climate policies and sustainable development at the top of the international agenda (last year COP24 in Poland, in 2019 the European Development Days dedicated to inequalities). What is the key message you would like to deliver to the international community regarding women and climate change?
Gender policies and climate policies should absolutely not be addressed distinctively. Women must be part of the solution, and climate policies must include women all along the process, from policy designing to policy implementation.