Listening to Indigenous women activists will move philanthropy closer to achieving meaningful change, writes Nicky McIntyre of Foundation for a Just Society
When Teresa Zapeta and Lucy Mulenkei affirm that ‘we are not first women and then Indigenous or vice versa, we are all one, individual or collective’, I feel an immediate resonance as a feminist. While their analysis is rooted in specific Indigenous approaches, it is a way of thinking that will be familiar – and compelling – to anyone who takes an intersectional feminist view. Intersectional feminism, too, tells us that gender is inextricable from other aspects of identity, and that all struggles for justice are connected. This insight is at the core of Indigenous women activists’ work and worldview, positioning the rights of women within a broader strategy of strengthening entire communities. For funders like Foundation for a Just Society (FJS) who seek to support Indigenous women, understanding this approach is critical.
As a feminist funder, we believe that when people who experience the deepest forms of oppression actively represent their own interests, the solutions are more effective and progress is more enduring.
With an integrated view of individual and collective rights, Indigenous women’s organisations are fighting for individual women’s and girls’ rights while strengthening the collective voice of their communities. This means they are not going to leave any part of their community, or the environment, behind. Indigenous women bring an intersectional analysis and a holistic approach to some of the most pressing challenges of our time, from climate justice to land rights to ending violence and moving toward economic justice. Yet they have not had resources to advance their own solutions.