Resilience Among Mapuche Women

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Updated: Feb 25, 2021
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In the cosmology of the American indigenous women, as among the Mapuche women, resilience is considered an important issue. The natural resources, like freshwater, are considered a living entity, where animals have an enormous role to play in the universe of meaning. How Mapuche women use resilience as responded to the process of adaptation climate change?
In this work, a survey is carried out in two Mapuche communities one in Chile and one in Argentine both in Patagonia. Evaluating an empirical study of determinates of resilience. The intention of this study was to explore how women narrate their experiences of adaptation capacity in relation to the sustainability, environmental and climate change perspective of resilience.
Resilience thinking has moved into the forefront of global discourses on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and emergency response and recovery (Banerman,1999). Social justice frameworks have long been part of resilience thinking, conceptualizing multifaceted disasters as caused by interplays between physical, psychological, and sociopolitical dynamics that disproportionately impact marginalized communities, particularly in the Global South. Southern Chile and Aegentina is a poignant example, whereby marginalized indigenous communities, such as the Mapuche, are exposed to recurrent socio-natural disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and volcanic eruptions.
Resilience in Mapuche women, however, does not only include responses to these repeated major “rapid onset” disasters, but also to complex legacies of systematic marginalization and ongoing inequities. Indigenous women all over the world have common histories of being colonized and discriminated against by dominant societies and of being subject to other power dimensions such as gender norms and cultural ideals. The Mapuche women are one of the biggest among eight national minority groups in Chile.


Sampling and participations Were based on a quality-quantitative fieldwork approach. In-depth interviews were carried out with 36 women from three rural Mapuche communities in Neuquén province ,Patagonia, Argentina, and 98 women from rural Mapuche communities in Bio Bio, Patagonia,Chile ( Gobierno de Argentina/Chile, balance 2018). A free listing was used for inquiring about capacity adaptation, knowledge and use. In-depth analysis of the natural resources was conducted perception, and cultural significance of environment and their inhabitants. Quantitative survey results were analyzed with categorical statistics (Arnold M, Mearns R, Oshima K, Prasad V. Climate and disaster resilience).
Open interview was first carried out, with broad, general questions, followed by a questionnaire with more specific questions, as a way of orienting the interview, with deeper questions on: Roles, Gender Inequality and sustainability and The techniques as technology and tools used by them as adaptive capacity.
In addition, attention was focused on obtaining personal experiences recounted by locals. In some cases walks with informants were also carried out [86]. Inasmuch as Mapuches communities in Chile and Argentina have lived through a long forced assimilation policy, characterized by restrictions on using the Mapuche language and engaging in traditional ritual to the environmental. Were translated to Mapudungun and cross-culturally validated. A cross sectional survey design was used in 2010 to collect data from a convenience sample of 75 women , 25–45 years old, in Temuco, South of Chile the region most affected by the conflict. (Aylwin, J. 2001). Data was examined using hierarchical regression analyses. 


Given the varied nature of the information in terms of the kind of data and its different epistemological approach, data analysis was mainly descriptive-interpretative (Leiva, 1997). Women answers were analyzed systematically, recording agreement and consensus between informants’ discourse fragments (Leiva,1997).
The data obtained were analyzed using an emic/etic approach, consisting of comparison between indigenous knowledge “emic” and academic knowledge. Ethnolinguistic information was analysed by specialist from the community (Gabriel Cañicull, Raquithué community) and the help of Mapudungun dictionaries . To improve the research etic categories were drawn up to group for example, old women, younger and teenagers. In the same way, emotional perception regarding environmental and sustainability. (Instituto de Diversidad y Evolucion Austral, CONICET).
Quantitative information obtained from the interviews was analyzed by means of statistical comparison of categories using the Binomial Test. Limitations Climate change adaptation capacity work tends to focus on technology often considered “men’s territory”; Community participation projects tend to assume the male leaders have all the answers. Women are disadvantaged due to a lack of access to information, because men have more opportunities to participate in meetings and thus collect information. As result, women do not feel confident and comfortable to express their needs or have a seat at the decision-making table with male counterparts, particularly in traditionally “male ministries”.


 The knowledge of the communities studied reflects the socio-environmental changes experienced by Patagonian women. According to local perception, the women are guarding the environment, and they should not be disturbed on her duty. At present, five communities in Chile and two in Argentina, women enjoy a high prestige due to their relationship with the environment. Not so, whatever in other communities like Neuquen, province where women still struggle with roles because of its gender leaving in the shadow.
The report shows how the effects of unsustainable patterns of development often intensify gender inequalities, as women and girls are disproportionately affected by economic, social and environmental shocks and stresses. It argues that around many issues – whether work and industrial production, population and reproduction, food and agriculture, or water, sanitation and energy – dominant development pathways have often contributed to both unsustainability and gender inequality. 
Both are produced by development models that support particular types of under-regulated market-led growth and the persistence of unequal power relations between women and men. Such pathways rely on and reproduce gender inequalities, for instance by exploiting women’s labor and unpaid care work. They also produce environmental problems, as market actors seek and secure profit in ways that rely on the overexploitation of natural resources and the pollution of climates, land and oceans. As troubling intersections of unsustainability and gender inequality threaten or exceed planetary boundaries around climate change, biodiversity and pollution, so shocks, stresses and feedbacks may undermine gendered rights and capabilities even further.
In addition, we found that fishing is one of the roles between Mapuche women and they differentiate fish species mainly by morphological, organoleptic and ecological attributes (Instituted of Diversity y Evolution Austral, CONICET). Current consumption of fish by Mapuche communities is sporadic, only what they need as a community in accordance with bibliography and ancient tales. Several fishing tools are used, including modern elements. Another important point for Mapuche women is their knowledge of the plant. Indigenous people living in rural areas depend on the use of wild plants in their diet and often have considerable plant knowledge, which is recollecting by women. 
However, especially in situations where environmental and cultural transformations have led to changes in feeding practices, many indigenous communities abandon or change their traditional customs and thereby lose their plant knowledge over time (Benz et al. 2000 and Ladio and Lozada 2000, and Balslev 2001). The causes and rate of such loss have been of great interest to those who believe that indigenous knowledge can contribute to the resolution of sustainability problems and global change (Phillips and Gentry 1993; Benz et al. 2000; Byers et al. 2001). Consequently, changes in the distribution of plant knowledge may play an important role in future of the natural resources.
The multiple use of distinct ecological environments in the search for wild resources has been practiced since ancestral times in Mapuche communities inhabiting patagonia (Vignati Universidad Nacional del Comahue 1986). In particular, the ancestors of the present Mapuche women of Neuque´n Argentina used to travel seasonally from the lowlands, Andean valleys, to the highlands of the Andean forest, Cordillera. Their subsistence was based on gathering Pehue´n seeds, Araucaria araucana of Chile from the araucana forest in Chile (Aagesen 1998).


 Strengthening resilience and contributing to sustainability wellbeing Women from Chile and Argentina, Patagonia, participate in awareness raising session. However, the reverse is also possible: gender equality and sustainability can powerfully reinforce each other in alternative pathways. Women’s knowledge, agency and collective action are often central to these, whether in managing local landscapes, adapting to climate change, producing and accessing food, or securing sustainable water, sanitation and energy services.
We see this in examples where women are fully involved in forms of local forest governance that deliver both livelihood and conservation benefits, as (Bina Agarwal) has traced, and where networks of grass-roots women leaders are working to scale up capacity to reduce vulnerabilities to climate change in their communities. Creating meaning In Chile and Argentina Development Bank, (Armengol, Pedro, 1998) technical assistance project called Harnessing Climate Change Mitigation Initiatives to Benefit Women is demonstrating the role of common language in easing collaboration and alleviating gender imbalances.
Early findings from the project suggest that ensuring people in government use a common vocabulary to define priorities, for example, always including women as key beneficiaries of climate change mitigation when evaluating investment options can produce changes in culture and practice at the municipal level. These findings showed greater female inclusion in municipal planning and policy discussions, along with increased participation in decision-making at the national and municipal levels. These changes have clear implications for the broader resilience-building work.


 We can be assured that women are as sustainability saviors beyond the stereotype. A simple “win-win” relationship between gender equality and sustainability cannot be assumed. Indeed, a policy focus on women can risk casting them as “sustainability saviors” in ways that stereotype their roles in relation to the family, the community and the environment.
Such responses often add environment to women’s already heavy unpaid care and work burdens, without conferring rights, resources, and benefits. Power imbalances in gender relations shape whether women’s actions and work translate into the realization of their capabilities. Moreover, gender is always and everywhere cross-cut by other, intersecting power relations and inequalities, whether around class or ethnicity, age or place. Hence analysis of interactions, tensions and trade-offs between different dimensions of gender relations and of sustainability is needed, along with attention to the structural foundations of gender discrimination and struggles against this.
Recent policy attention to women and girls, from campaigning around the “girl effect” to debates around the UK’s Girl Summit earlier this year, while laudable in many respects, often lacks this relational perspective (Melissa Leach, 2018). Instead, women and girls are treated as individual victims, saviors or development beneficiaries in ways that may entrench stereotypes, while ultimately failing to empower.
Mapuche women stressed the importance of family and cultural connectedness, which contributed to their resilience and sustainability. Feeling independent through experiencing gender equality and being economically secure were also important to their resilience. Narrating cultural memories was especially meaningful for the old Mapuche women.
Despite their experiences of having been disparaged, discriminated against and coerced by the dominant by the state, which weakened their resilience and wellbeing, Cultural and gender research is increasingly devoted to intersectional perspectives, and minority women’s narratives are important because they show the complexities of culture, gender, age, economic status and place (Hernández-Avila).
Examining the complexity of belonging to an indigenous people and of being an woman in relation to the concept of resilience, informed by both the women’s early experiences of life in a “road less land” and their bi-cultural lives in Chile and Argentina, may not only contribute more knowledge and deeper understanding of Mapuche women and also help to improve interactions between cities women and Mapuche women and their interaction with the environmental. 


 As the world moves towards Sustainable Development Goals for the post-2020 era, there is emerging debate about how target-setting and implementation might integrate across the goals proposed by the Open Working Group (OWG) (Melisa Leach, nation Union), so that the inextricable links between, say, climate change, water and food are properly addressed. Meanwhile, feminists and others rightly celebrate that goal “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” survived the fraught, politicized OWG process.
Nevertheless, while retaining this as a “standalone” goal is a victory that may guard against the perils of gender mainstreaming and marginalization, arguably the integration of this with the implementation of the technology of capacity adaptation on gender equality is the most important task of all. As a major United Nations report launched on 20 October 2018 argues, gender equality must be integral to sustainable development.
This is the latest in the flagship series of five-yearly World Survey on the Role of Women in Economic Development reports, prepared by UN Women (Melisa Leach, United Nation) For pathways to be truly sustainable and advance gender equality and the rights and capabilities of women and girls, those whose lives and well-being are at stake must be involved in leading the way, through community groups, women’s organizations and other forms of collective action and engagement supported by appropriate forms of investment and public services.
Pathways toward resilience in many Mapuche communities do not simply rely on capacities of individuals or collectives to reduce risks to historicized and depoliticized disasters. On the contrary, the very complexities of and intersections across environmental crises and racialized postcolonial politics are manifest in daily indigenous family and community life. However, further research is needed into gendered experiences of minority peoples such as the Mapuche women in order to take into account their unique life experiences, to deepen our perspective on human resilience and to increase our understanding of various groups in a multicultural society.


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