Indigenous peoples

 Latin America has gone through an unprecedented mobilization of indigenous peoples in the past 20 years, but their political participation is still low. Photo: UNDP Venezuela

In Latin America there are more than 800 different indigenous peoples accounting for close to 45 million women and men or around eight percent of the region’s population. Their immense socio-demographic, territorial and cultural diversity ranges from around 200 peoples living in voluntary isolation and initial contact in countries like Brazil, Ecuador, Peru or Paraguay to many who live in large urban settlements such as in Mexico City or Quito.

Despite the progress made in terms of promoting indigenous peoples’ participation in policymaking and the political sphere, they have been largely left out of the region’s social and economic strides of recent decades. These populations remain among the least healthy and educated populations and suffer disproportionally more from the effects of climate change and natural catastrophes.

In spite of many challenges, Latin America has gone through an unprecedented mobilization of indigenous peoples in the past 20 years, but their political participation, particularly among women, is still low, according to a UNDP report which assesses the six countries with highest percentage of indigenous peoples and greatest progress in political participation—Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru.

However, indigenous women’s political inclusion has been a major challenge, since they face "triple discrimination": being female, indigenous and poor. Beyond women’s usual difficulties in breaking the political glass ceiling, indigenous customary law further hinders women’s political participation in the region, a UNDP report shows.

We have supported: the Integral Development Plan of Indigenous Peoples of Panama; the draft Law on Prior Consultation in Bolivia; the national Policy against Racism and Racial Discrimination 2014-2022 in Honduras; and the regulation of the Prior Consultation Law in Peru.

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