The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) must strengthen its response to humanitarian needs, particularly in situations of violence against indigenous women, according to its partner from Mexico.
PWRDF can also help to ensure that governments in Canada and Latin America comply with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said Lina Barrio at a PWRDF-hosted global partnership roundtable in Toronto Oct. 29 to 31. At the event, PWRDF sought feedback and recommendations for its 2012-2015 strategic plan.
Barrio is president of Kinal Antzenik, a grassroots organization based in Mexico City that has been a PWRDF partner since 2006. Along with partners from the Philippines and Burundi, Barrio described socio-economic and political realities and identified priorities for development work.
Father Rex Reyes, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, underscored the need for advocacy as part of development. Reyes cited the need to call attention to the plight of indigenous communities in the Philippines. Many are affected by mining activities of Canadian companies.
These companies are notorious for not observing environmental protection rules and regulations, said Reyes in an interview. (Canada is home to 75 per cent of the world’s mining and exploration companies, and its stock exchanges trade 40 per cent of the world’s mineral exploration capital.)
In Mexico, Barrio said priorities include reducing inequality, improving the situation of women (particularly indigenous women who suffer from a high maternal mortality rate, particularly in the states of Guerrero and Chiapas), access to food, jobs and ownership of land, and defense of human rights.
About half of Mexico’s population–or 52 million–live in poverty, most of them indigenous people who are unable to buy even basic needs, said Barrio. Poverty drives almost half a million people to migrate annually to the U.S., she noted.
Civil liberties have been curtailed as part of the Mexican government’s war on drugs and organized crime, she added.
Barrio said her organization’s partnership with PWRDF has helped to empower indigenous women in southern Mexico. PWRDF supports the Preventive Maternal Mortality program, which provides support to community health workers working with mothers and children. Now in its seventh year, the program also advocates on behalf of indigenous women and children to make sure that they have access to healthcare.
Bishop Pie Ntukamazina, of the Anglican diocese of Bujumbura, said Burundi continues to struggle with inflation, poverty, HIVAIDS, corruption in government and violation of human rights.
The diocese has been in partnership with PWRDF since 1992 through programs that address HIV/AIDS, peace and health. The health and community development program, co-funded with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), provides training to 403 community leaders and workers on effective communications and mobilization and 155 community health workers on preventive health and sanitation. It also trains farmers on better farming practices.
Ntukamazina also gave a devotional talk on the “theology of partnership.” As PWRDF fulfills its role as a “tool for community transformation,” it should remember that partnership is “about dialogue, gender equality, togetherness, advocacy for the voiceless and presenting a prophetic message to those in need,” he said.