Subsistence, semi-subsistence, and food sovereignty shall not be new terms among Indigenous Women, as they practice those activities daily. They are the main actors who ensure the food supplies not only for their families but also extended for their indigenous communities. At least in this nation, the work of Indigenous Women is also extended to guarantee the supply of both food and nutrition. The indigenous knowledge they possess is proven to work, generation by generation, as the natural resources in their indigenous territories give what they need. The life of the communities and the nations lies in the hands of the Indigenous Women, and it is not a mere slogan. However, this important role still does not earn the acknowledgment and respect they deserve.
The lockdown of indigenous territories during the pandemic of Covid19 disturbs the distribution process, in which Indigenous Women do not have anything to worry about. Their food supply is abundant enough to feed their communities from 3 to 12 months, or even to a longer period. The information and facts that are coming out of 55 Organized Territories within PEREMPUAN AMAN reflect the nature of food sovereignty among them. The collective autonomous territories of Indigenous Women do not only grow essential crops like rice but other varieties like sorghum, tubes, sago, corns, beans, bananas, and vegetables. The territories also grow protein sources, honey, and herbal medicines. The tradition of barter between families and communities are then resurrected during this pandemic. Indigenous Women could also support their relatives in urban cities. The support becomes significant especially to the Indigenous Women whose territories been damaged bu various kinds of concessions. It is the solidarity among them that backs each other up to combat food crises.
For Indigenous Women, Earth Day is celebrated every day, and by “celebrate”, it is not a mere festive joy, but more to empathize with the daily role of these women.
The absence of acknowledgment and protection to the rights of the Indigenous Women will automatically impact to food sovereignty of this nation. Not only that, but the dismissal of their indigenous knowledge also highlights another discrimination they daily endure, especially the slash and burn method, a knowledge that has been passed for hundreds of years with precise risk management and calculations. There is also a rising number of violent cases against the Indigenous Women in the name of natural resource management every year which leads to criminalization to them.
The Awakening Day of the Indigenous Women (HKPAN) last 16 April should not be simply a gesture of celebration and appreciation of the existence of Indigenous Women but shall be the moment in which motivates us their significance. It has always been them who ensure the food sovereignty of the nation. Hence, it is a responsibility of ours to voice out the need of having a national policy to ensure the rights of these Indigenous Women. As important as their rights, their identities, indigenous knowledge, collective autonomous territories, and authorities over natural resources; the very source they feed their families and communities.
The fire has always been fueled inside their bodies, and we have to learn in this Earth Day. Indigenous Women are the heroines that walk in silence, Silhouettes with no acknowledgment to carry. Pandemic and layers of discrimination shall not stop their steps. The days the have been living are the celebrations of the Earth Day itself. Hence, Earth Day is a perfect moment to plea for the protection of the collective rights of the Indigenous Women.
In the name of Just and Equality, Happy Earth Day!