Joênia Wapixana, who was elected the first Indigenous Brazilian Congresswoman in October of this year, and whom we just wrote an article about, has been awarded the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights, less than a month after her historical electoral victory.
Previous recipients of this award have included Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Malala Yusafzai, and it’s a sign of the times that Joênia has been selected, considering her work not only in fighting to protect Indigenous Land Rights, but also in bravely standing up for indigenous representation in Brazil and in the World.
Upon receiving the news about the prize, Joênia had this to say: “When I carry my message as the first indigenous woman to receive a [Law] Degree in Brazil, it is exactly to motivate others, so they might reproduce this image, so it may multiply among indigenous people. We are citizens, people that want to participate in the decisions of many processes that are being discussed in countries. We are defenders of human rights, holders of wisdom and much knowledge. We will make space so that our children might also live this example, and this recognition, I understand, will serve to help protect us.”
Congratulations to Joênia Wapixana, may this prize be accompanied by real, positive change in the treatment and recognition of Native peoples by governments and corporations all over the world.