Women's Tribunal:  Gender and Climate Justice:  PERU

Date:  November 10, 2011
Location:  Cuzco, Peru
Organizers:  Centro de Mujeres Peruanas Flora Trista
Contact:  Blanca Hernadez,

Tribunal Report: Peru
The Women’s Tribunal in Cusco, Peru brought representatives from nearby departments in the south of the country. Women from Arequipa, Cajamarca, Cusco, Piura and Puno testified that frost, drought, heavy rains and floods were affecting the lives of these women and their communities as a result of climate change.

María Ibarcena, Cleofé Huatay, Hilaria Yanque Bereche and Bertha Atencio Sonilda testified that they have been resisting the effects of climate change that has altered their lives by generating economic losses, increased poverty and lack of confidence in the future. It has caused the break-up of their families and brought both physical ailments and mental anguish.

These women are the voices of many others like them who depend on natural resources and farming, which has been affected by climate variability, a phenomenon that occurs on the planet and impacts all countries, but that affects countries like theirs more severely.

Rural women represent the sector in Peru with entrenched poverty marked by social and gender inequalities. The factors exacerbating the conditions for women in this region are:  illiteracy, maternal mortality, malnutrition, early pregnancy, violence against women and girls. These are phenomena that affect adolescents, youth and adults alike. The reality is compounded by the effects of climate change, which now require a strengthened approach to mitigation and adaptation.

In the testimonies of Mary, Cleofé, Hilaria, Betha and Sonilda, authorities and the public know of the magnitude of this situation. At the tribunal, representatives of the Regional Government, Ministry of Women, the Institute of Water Management and Environment, and the Institute of Machu Picchu where present to listen to the testimonies of the Peruvian women. Pledges were made. Members of various civil society organizations were present as well to witness the promises made by the government representatives.

The Center for Peruvian Women Flora Tristán, an organization advocating for women’s rights and organizers of the Women’s Tribunal in conjunction with the Feminist Task Force and the GCAP, recognizes that within the framework of the tribunal and the context of climate change the media plays an important and influential role. Through media, the voices of the testimonies will not be silenced. Through the documentation of testimonies and the release of information through the media outlets, attention will be given to the impacts of climate change of the lives of rural women in Peru, and their demands and proposals will be channeled to the authorities not present at the Tribunal.  

An emphasis on the solutions has been given in this Women’s Tribunal to ensure rural women are part of the solutions, and in being so can be advocates as well as beneficiaries of future programs for mitigation and adaptation of climate change. In providing solutions, rural women are taking part in crafting proposals, making recommendations and exercising their voices.

Summary of two cases:
Maria Ibárcena case - Frost in Arequipa
In the last decade, the District of Chuquibamba, in the province of Condesuyos, comes bearing frost weather and sharp drop in temperatures at any time of the year. This phenomenon results in ever worse havoc on the production efforts of Maria Ibárcena, who cultivates flowers and fruits sold in the market for the family economy. Her situation is very difficult since the harvest of flowers can end abruptly by being "burnt" by the excessive cold, and fruits are diminished. Currently, she and other cultivators take only 20 percent of the planting in comparison to previous seasons. Agricultural activity is their means of livelihood.

In addition, the increase in pests is increases their production costs. Maria has not only economic loss, but faces the mistrust of customers because she cannot fulfill the orders. The anxiety, concern and uncertainty are emotions that co-exists with the cold on a daily basis. Her mental health is affected and lack of confidence settles in. She combats depression due to the contradicting fact that she is both working but not achieving the expected results.

The reality of Maria is the reality of other women of Chuquibamba. They live in poverty without opportunities for improvement and development in conditions of equality. They feel their rights have been infringed – the right to food security, the right to access to resources, the right to the enjoyment of physical and mental health.

Case of Cleofé Huatay  - drought in Cajamarca
Rosaura Cleofé Huatay Tacilla, 67, lives in the hamlet of Baños del Inca (Cajamarca province in the District of Otuzco). Women in this area depend on natural resources and of work in the field. In March of 2011 Cleofé and other women lost their crops to drought and cold temperatures. Their potatoes, corn and beans, and seeds were destroyed. In the grasslands, the animals vanished due to the droughts and cold temperatures. The work has been much more intense over the previous year. Before this disaster her sons had migrated to the forest in search of work and she remained in Baños to sell whatever she was able and to try to sustain herself.

The impact of climate change on the life of Cleofé and others has been a radical life change.  Their sales and little profits have had a turnaround.  She cannot reclaim the economic losses and the impact on her mental health. Cleofè was left penniless and with debts, increased poverty and insecurity. She suffers from constant headaches, insomnia, accompanied by depression because of the break-up of her family. She is in great fear of the future and what may happen with her and her family.

What Cleofè is experiencing is repeated among women in their community for whom farming is their means of subsistence. Additionally, these women carry the responsibility for the care of children, particularly difficult in times of famine. They feel that their rights to access to resources, to work, to the mental and physical health to food security have been violated.

For the first time in Peru, rural women affected by climate change will make their voices heard by society and the public, creating awareness of the impact on their personal and family life, and in their communities, and how this phenomenon increases poverty and gender inequalities.

Women will testify on how climate change impacts on their lives
They come from Cusco, Piura, Cajamarca, Junin, Puno and Arequipa

"Our country has a varied climate and geography, but for several years weather events are presented as exaggerated or out of season altering the agricultural cycle, and generating not only the loss of crops and the consequent increase in poverty families and communities, but also introducing a terrible insecurity that prevents them from being able to plan with the least certainty of a positive outcome," said Blanca Fernandez, the Rural Development Program Manager with the Peruvian Center for Women Flora Tristan.

Women in Cusco, Piura, Cajamarca, Junin, Puno and Arequipa have been seriously harmed and will present economic, social and cultural testimony about how the frost, the overflowing of rivers, drought and high temperatures have caused them financial losses, collapse of their families, worry and sadness, thus affecting their physical and mental health.

This situation is prevalent in countries vulnerable to climate change, as is the case of Peru, and hits people living in poverty, particularly women, because they have fewer tools to adapt to the phenomenon of gender discrimination which puts them in a subordinate position in society.

"It is therefore important that the general public hear their voices, their demands and proposals, because they shall not continue to be invisible," Blanca said.

The public hearing will allow this reality to become visible in the eyes of the community, the authorities, media and the general population.
 The organizers believe it will help the state policies take notice and thus, take action, especially after the commitments made by the Peruvian Prime Minister before the Congress to incorporate an approach to climate change and sustainable development in all development policies.

The public hearing will be held on Thursday 10 November from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm in the city of Cusco, in the auditorium of the regional government. The event is promoted by the Centro Flora Tristan and is part of a series of 15 women’s tribunals on gender and climate justice organized by the Feminist Task Force and GCAP, in partnership with Greenpeace and Inter Press Service.

For more information, in Peru contact:  Blanca Fernandez  or for media inquiries, contact:  Mariela Jara
 For more information on the Women’s Tribunal series, click on the link below or contact Feminist Task Force Global Coordinator, Rosa Lizarde.

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