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Nina Gualinga is a force to be reckoned with.
From the impending devastation of climate change, several activists have emerged who refuse to settle for the status quo. At only 22 years old, Nina Gualinga is one such activist. Born and raised in Sarayaku – an indigenous community of the Kichwa tribe nestled deep within the Ecuadorian Amazon – Nina's powerful voice is backed by a chorus of indigenous resistance to protect the Amazon, the way of life in Sarayaku, and to keep the world hopeful.
Oil extraction from reserves beneath the Amazon is a constant threat that forces the Kichwa tribe to always be on guard. These oil companies insist that drilling for oil will relieve Sarayaku from poverty. Nina explains that exploiting the land will, instead, threaten their way of life and impoverish them further.
Photo: Amazon Watch
Nina is the fierce fresh face of eco-feminism – a movement defined by the connection between the domination of the environment and the exploitation of women, particularly in third world communities. And partnered with Amazon Watch, her strong campaign against the oil frontier expanding in the Amazon has attracted global attention.
In 2012, the Sarayaku community won their fight for environmental and tribal rights. By forming an activist group to protect their rights, they successfully sued the Ecuadorian government in the inter-American court of human rights, managing to push both the Ecuadorian military and major oil companies from clearing the land to drill oil.
Meet Nina in the video below from Amazon Watch and Refinery29, learn about the importance of feminism here and get to know the beautiful land and cultures that define the Kichwa people of Sarayaku.
“I know that the things I do will probably have a consequence in the future. But I am not afraid.” - Nina Gualinga
Climate change will affect all of us, though some will suffer disproportionately. Indigenous communities in particular will feel the effects of climate change more severely from greater health risks as well as a dwindling cultural identity. For the 400 indigenous communities in the Amazon, oil drilling will destroy their capacity to live by their own means.
Nina wrote a thought-provoking piece for the Huffington Post. We want to share with you the strength of her words and why supporting Amazon Watch is so important on an international scale. Hopefully she will inspire positive change for indigenous communities around the world, particularly indigenous Australians whose livelihoods will take a disproportionate hit.
"Locations where fossil fuel deposits have been discovered are situated directly within the homes and territories of local indigenous peoples. We are actively struggling against exploitation of these reserves. We are struggling for the future of all mankind. Therefore, we deserve the support of international communities. We have persistently been on the forefront of the fight against environmental disaster and climate change. So why are our voices not being included in the decision-making process at COP20 and at other high-level governmental meetings? It is not only our right, but it is also the obligation of governments, state parties, corporations, organizations, and other such institutions to make sure indigenous peoples have a say on our own future."
READ THIS NEXT: How gender equality, climate justice and hope go together.