On 26 October 2022, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs hosted a Participatory Workshop for Indigenous Women on their Roles and Responsibilities Related to Water. These unique and incredibly strong women shared with each other how their communities relate to water, what practices related to water they have, how they relate to the environment, to space and technology. They also expressed what their everyday struggles related to water look like, such as the spreading of disease among fish in previously healthy waterways, the contamination of soil and water bodies due to mining or other industrial activities, the experiences of elders in their communities, who are isolated because of lack of winter ice or water to travel to other community members, or of women who have little or simply no access to clean water at many points during the year, to name just a few.
These women highlight that while water is a human right, it is also our responsibility to care for this incredible important resource. Since they do care about water and show agency, UNOOSA would like to support them by pointing them to relevant space-based technologies that could address their water-related challenges. During the workshop UNOOSA delivered a short presentation on space-based technologies and data and their applications to water-related topics. The women's interest was sparked quickly and hence, they could identify technology with potential to address their needs. Furthermore, they also expressed the need to preserve Indigenous languages to ultimately preserve Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous science as they call it.
In the video message below, the six Indigenous women who were part of the workshop voiced a message to be sent to the world, which reads as follows:
- Clean water is an everyday need - access to clean water is a right.
- We need to be empowered to care for our waterways.
- Our knowledge needs to be recognised by science and policy making about water management.
- Appropriate water use in San José Poaquil.
- Women and girls walk long distances to search for water for domestic use we need to reduce the distance from 20km to 5km.
- We need to be included in decisions that impact us
Recognise and respect indigenous women's' knowledge about water care, protection and management.
Check out the Indigenous voices feature with valuable information about the workshop participants, their community and the water-related challenges they observe in our new Indigenous Voices Feature. It is the aim of Space4Water to find actors who can help addressing these challenges by means of space-based technology and data. If you are one of them, write us an email to office[at]space4water.org and let us know how you are willing to help.