Intergovernmental working group meets to address violence against Indigenous women
Representatives from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. convened in Washington, D.C., last week as the three countries collaborate to address the high rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Angel Charley was part of the U.S. delegation to the intergovernmental effort – called the Trilateral Working Group on Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls – which met for the fourth time since it was created in 2016. Charley heads the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women and is a citizen of Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico.
“When we look at someone who might be in a violent intimate partner relationship, it’s not as simple as, ‘Why don’t they just leave?” Charley said. “Well, they don’t have the resources; they don’t have the options to get out of that relationship.”
She points to the lack of wage equality for Indigenous women, an under-funded healthcare system across tribal lands and the high cost of education, all of which impact representation in roles of power, Charley says.
Ajoint statement issued Friday by the governments of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. specifically highlighted "strengthening access to justice," "addressing root causes of gender-based violence," and "advancing Indigenous women’s leadership."
"Government officials listened to recommendations from Indigenous experts and advocates on each of these topics and discussed commitments and initiatives from the three governments to advance prevention efforts, increase support for survivors, and enhance regional coordination to better address root causes that increase vulnerability to all forms of gender-based violence," the statement said.
In an interview with the Mountain West News Bureau before the meeting, Charley said the U.S. delegation would focus on federal legislation and new law enforcement units devoted to solving these cases.
“On a national level, the things we’ll be paying attention to are how are these being implemented,” Charley said. “Where are the gaps that exist even within these well intended solutions, and we’ll continue to hold our decision-makers accountable.”
The Interior Department, led by Deb Haaland, the first Native American cabinet secretary, hosted the meeting on behalf of the U.S. government.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.