CHR Report: Situation of Indigenous Women and Girls during the COVID-19 Pandemic

CHR Report: Situation of Indigenous Women and Girls during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Magna Carta of Women identifies indigenous women and girls as one of the sectors of women whose rights need to be protected, promoted, and upheld. Crucial as well in the fulfillment of their fundamental freedoms is the elimination of discrimination against them.

However, when COVID-19 lockdowns were implemented across the country, many within their sector were severely and disproportionately impacted. Issues that existed prior to the pandemic were further exacerbated by the challenges brought about by COVID-19. One Higaonon woman leader recounts, “Many of us in our community worked as farm workers, construction workers, and domestic helpers. But because of the lockdown, most were forced to stop working by our employers to avoid transmitting the virus or because there was no more transportation that could take us to our jobs.”

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), as Gender Ombud, through its Center for Gender Equality and Women Human Rights (GEWHRC) and in partnership with LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), looked closer into the plight of indigenous women and girls during the pandemic—How are these issues being addressed by the government? Are the current realities of indigenous women taken into account by the COVID 19 Inter-Agency Task Force, relevant agencies, and local government units?

This report endeavors to document the worries and anxieties of indigenous women and girls, but most of all, their persistence in asserting their fundamental rights. The data and analysis covered also spans across several topics crucial to their quality of life and well being, such as food security, livelihood, health, education, indigenous rights defense work, and political participation.

It must be noted as well that the responses of this report came directly from indigenous women participants, aged 15 to 65, of communities from Region X, XII, CAR and CARAGA. In the discussions, they themselves articulated the recommendations on how to address these challenges; grounded on their lived experiences before and during the pandemic.

CHR hopes that this research provides pertinent insights for lawmakers and civil society organizations involved in policy and advocacy work. We, likewise, look forward to the acknowledgement of various relevant government agencies responsible for direct services for indigenous women.

As the country tries to return to normal amid the effects of COVID-19, let us call for a more inclusive recovery plan that ensures that no one—especially indigenous women and girls—is left behind.

Read the full CHR report here: