Asia Women and Rivers Congress – Solidarity Statement

1 week ago

In Chiang Rai, Thailand on 4-6 June 2024, 125 women leaders, Indigenous Peoples, community members, researchers, youth, legal experts, policymakers, and journalists from 18 countries gathered for the Asia Women and Rivers Congress. We, the women river guardians and stewards, raise our collective voices for our vital role in the protection of our mother rivers, territories, and communities.

We convened to honor the courage and determination of diverse women, Indigenous Peoples, and their allies as crucial guardians of the environment and human rights. We celebrate women-led movements that protect rivers as vital shared commons for all peoples and species. Drawing strength from our stories of resistance, the revival of Indigenous knowledge and practices, and environmental protection, we are united.

Water is the lifeblood of our communities and all life, yet everywhere, rivers face threats from dams, mining, pollution, and exploitative development and technologies that prioritize profit and power over people’s well-being and cultural heritage. The protection of rivers and territories is integral to climate action and ensuring a just and inclusive energy transition.

Women environmental defenders are facing harassment and violence. We call on governments, companies and the international community for urgent action to safeguard our role as environmental guardians of waters, lands, and traditional knowledge and practices. The struggle continues for the rights to water, food sovereignty, cultural survival, and a livable planet for all.

We unite in creating safe spaces and support systems for building powerful and inclusive women’s movements that transcend borders. By sharing strategies and fostering the next generation of women river defenders, we strengthen our knowledge, networks and collaborations. Our vision values the spiritual, traditional, and scientific knowledge systems stewarded by women.

We call for urgent transformative changes that respect Indigenous Peoples and women’s rights, environmental defenders, and their crucial roles in community resource management. We demand accountability and reparations for loss and damages from governments, private sector, and international financial institutions.

Healthy, free-flowing rivers are vital arteries of ecological and cultural resilience. Our future depends on realizing women’s equal access and decision-making in all spheres including political, economic and social. From headwaters to the seas, together we are stronger.

We call on the international community to join our movements for equity and justice.

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