The women of the Sapara indigenous nation have suffered violence and discrimination—both within their communities and in the country’s urban centers. Therefore, the Association of Sapara Women of Ecuador, ASHIÑWAKA, was created in 2009 to respond to the critical need to protect the fundamental human rights of the Sapara women. The organization is legally recognized by the Ecuadorean government as well as the country’s national and regional level indigenous organizations.
A paramount success of ASHIÑWAKA is that the organization has established itself as a safe haven for Sapara women to report cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse. ASHIÑWAKA assists abused women and children seek medical help and take legal action.
ASHIÑWAKA has also provided Sapara women with organizational and political training, and has enabled women to participate in international political spaces such as the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the COP climate change negotiations.
In addition to politically empowering women and protecting them from abuse, one of ASHIÑWAKA’s goals includes working to defend the nation’s territorial and collective rights. These rights are being threatened by Ecuador’s 11th oil bidding round, a plan that will open oil blocks in Ecuador’s Southern Amazon—several of which are in Sapara territory.
Another goal for ASHIÑWAKA this year is to lead workshops on communications technologies skills for Sapara women. These workshops will cover basic computer skills, as well as managing social media so that the women of ASHIÑWAKA can share their work and stories in their own words.