December 23rd, 1994 was the day when United Nations General Assembly decided, in its resolution 49/214, that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People shall be observed on 9 August every year. The date marks the day of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in the year 1982. On this day, people from around the world are encouraged to spread the UN’s message on the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples.
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world’s population but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Despite their cultural differences, indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples. Indigenous peoples have sought recognition of their identities, way of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources for years, yet throughout history, their rights have always been violated. Indigenous peoples today, are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world.
PHIA along with its partner organizations organized an event with the theme – ‘Effective participation of Women in Local Self- Governance’ to bring more ownership of the community over the initiative on strengthening local self-governance. The event is an initiative of ‘Gram Swashashan Abhiyaan’ aimed to bring more ownership of the community over the initiative and bring about effective policy implementation of the programme and policies aimed at formal recognition of indigenous peoples and their right supported by APPI.
The event aimed to raise the issues around effective policy implementation of the program and policies aimed at recognition of indigenous peoples and their rights. The event aimed to recognize the contribution of community leaders (particularly women leaders, community representatives by giving them a platform to share their voices, learning, experiences and critical challenges pertaining to rights of the indigenous people and how to facilitate more inclusive planning.
The event was graced by the presence of Her Excellency, Honorable Governor of Jharkhand, Smt. Draupadi Murmu as the Chief Guest for this event. Ms. Vandana Dadel IAS, Secretary, Dept. of Energy, GoJ; Ms. Akai Minz, State Coordinator – NHM Jharkhand; Mr. Ratan Tirkey, Member Tribes Advisory Council, Government of Jharkhand and other dignitaries from Government of Jharkhand, social activists, academicians, CSO representatives, community members, women PRI members, media personnel were part of the event apart from 300 individuals who made the event successful.
A tribute was given to the historic tribal heroes Shri. Birsa Munda, Sidhu- Kanhu, Baba Tilka Manjhi, Jaipal Singh Munda and Jatra Tana Bhagat and women leaders including Phulo-Jhano, Manjhiya- Dundaga, Deomani Bandani and Singi Dai who contributed in the struggle to safeguard the interests of the tribes and their identity.
The event was inaugurated by Her Excellency, Honorable Governor of Jharkhand by drumming of the ‘Nagara’ followed by a traditional welcome dance to welcome her excellency, the Governor of Jharkhand. Ms. Vandana Dadel IAS, Secretary, Dept. of Energy, GoJ; Ms. Akai Minz, State Coordinator – NHM Jharkhand; Mr. Ratan Tirkey, Member Tribes Advisory Council, Government of Jharkhand and Ms. Vandana Tete, Writer & Social Activist and Chief Functionaries from 4 partner CSOs were felicitated by the Chief Guest for their appreciative work towards tribal empowerment, protecting tribal identity and dignity.
The rich tribal culture was highlighted through tribal songs and traditional cultural dances performed by the community representatives from the three geographical locations. The traditional dances performed included ‘Khaddi’ and ‘Sailo’ dance from Chainpur block; ‘Buna’ dance from Manoharpur region and Inspirational Santhali song, ‘Doong’ and ‘Sohrai’ dance and ‘Karam’ dance representing the rich cultural tradition from Santhal region.
The highlights of the event:
Smt. Droupadi Murmu, Honorable Governor of Jharkhand spoke on the importance of celebrating the Indigenous day – the importance of culture, tribal society and language. She mentioned that this day is celebrated in 90 countries to empower the tribes. Every individual belonging to tribal society should admire the tribe, culture and society- should not be reluctant of using the Adivasi Title. She mentioned about the Ideology of Mahatma Gandhi on the empowerment of village which helps the country grow. She emphasized that the development of each tribe should happen without any discrimination. There is a need for equal opportunity for education in tribal society and added that every girl child should have access to this opportunity. She recommended self-empowerment among all the tribal women so that they can grow in unity.
Ms. Vandana Dadel, IAS Secretary, Dept. of Energy, Govt. of Jharkhand shared the importance of The Indigenous Day. She highlighted the fact that the contribution of the tribal society remains unrecognized and the importance of language and culture is fading out gradually. Adivasis are included in the 15% of the poorest people in the world. Most of the times, the rights for the tribal are violated but now the time has come to unite for safeguarding the rights. Women Self Groups have been strengthened a lot in Jharkhand and added these groups can further strengthen the local governance.
Mr. Ratan Tirkey, Member, TAC, GoJ mentioned about the lack of recognition of tribal languages and the existence of beautiful tradition and culture.
Ms. Akay Minz, State Coordinator, NHM, Jharkhand talked about the cultural identity of tribes and keep the tribal culture and tradition at the forefront. She interlinked culture to health
Mr. Johnson Topno, State Manager, Phia Foundation focussed on protecting and remembering the unique identity. He further added while Jharkhand is moving ahead, Adivasis are still struggling. Its the duty of each one of us to come forward and unite to build the nation.
CSO Representative from AROUSE, ASRA, LJK and SAMVAD shared how women participation has improved in the present scenario – in the decision making process in the family and society as well. They also shared how the tribal society and women have participated in the struggles against the Britishers. Gram Sabha has strengthened and motivated the tribal women in their day to day life. They focused on the implementation of a structured governance system in the village which will make the society responsible and accountable.
Overall, the event contributed to the strong feeling of unity and solidarity, triggered enthusiasm and raised moral of the people from the community. The event witnessed active participation from the Panchayat representatives in the form of Mukhiyas, Ward members, GP members, etc. and most of them being women leaders. They shared their experiences, learnings and challenges in the field of governance with the audience.