In collaboration with University of California Davis (UC Davis) and representatives from the Colombian Ombudsman's Office, ABA ROLI traveled to Nariño, Colombia to conduct a two-day workshop centered around land rights and self-determination with the Cumbal Women Collective, a community of prominent indigenous women leaders in the area. This event took place from August 2 to August 3, 2023, and aimed to educate and empower rural Colombian women through the development and implementation of capacity building activities, including Know Your Rights presentations, empowerment workshops, and conversations with local officials. The Colombia Land Justice Project is the result of an alliance between ABA ROLI and UC Davis- Law School, facilitated by former ABA ROLI Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) Council Chair Raquel Aldana, in support of ABA ROLI’s USAID-funded Conectando Caminos por los Derechos (CCD) program (May 2020 – June 2023).
It was spiritual and incredible.
The Nariño region, located in the Andes and boarding Ecuador, is home to several indigenous and afro-Colombian groups. Based out of the municipality of Cumbal, the Cumbal Women Collective represents an inter-generational group of indigenous women, referred to as Renacientes. They successfully recovered their ancestral lands and are now engaged in a process of ongoing resistance to protect their land, advance women's rights, and preserve their cultural heritage.
Thanks to the generous funding from the UC Davis Office of Global Affairs and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), as part of the Sustainable Development Grant program, 30 indigenous rural women from the Cumbal and Huachapal regions of Colombia convened in the home of Janneth Liliana Taimal, an indigenous Anthropologist and community leader, to share ideas, stories, and lived experiences. This event created an opportunity for these incredible women to reflect on their vision of healing and renewal.
A short video about the Cumbal Women Collective narrated by Janneth Liliana Taimal, an indigenous anthropologist and community leader who organized the workshop in her own home and convened the group.
These women consider themselves spiritually rich despite continuing to face enormous economic and legal difficulties. The women noted that the community’s economic survival is dependent on the production of milk and potatoes, which is deeply impacted by the global market. In an effort to become more self-sufficient, they are working to remove the “middleman” in the supply chain so they can make a greater profit by producing and selling their own milk-based products.
During the workshop, the team also met with the “Mayoras”, the elder indigenous women leaders who took part in the recovery of their territory, an endeavor that involved both physical and legal resistance. Ultimately, the community received the collective title to their lands by proving their ancestral ownership and forced displacement in Court. As such, the Collective considers their ancestral land as a place of unity, cultural resurgence, and environmental protection and they are determined to safeguard their natural resources and preserve their history for generations to come. Finally, the workshop included spiritual ceremonies that allowed the women to exchange plants, flowers, and stories as a way to solidify their bond and renew their commitment to a collective resistance.
The women call themselves #mujeresresueltas – resolved women. It was truly magical to witness their resolve.
Learn more about ABA ROLI’s work across Latin America and the Caribbean.