SD.20.002 – Indigenous women and transnational environmental projects: an intersectional approach

Route: Sustainable development goals for inclusive global development

Cluster question: 040 How can we improve the effectiveness and legitimacy of legislation, given the global challenges we face with respect to the environment, security, innovation, energy, and climate change?

The envisaged project aims at improving the effectiveness of gender safeguards for indigenous women in transnational environmental projects. It does so by drawing on insights from the literatures on intersectionality and postcolonialism. Recent climate agreements such as the Paris demand for a gender-responsive approach (Art. 7), and the Sustainable Development Goals explicitly aim to ‘‘achieve gender equity and empower all women and girls” (Goal no. 5). Current studies, however, show ample evidence that transnational environmental initiatives often fail to achieve these goals in the implementation phase. Many authors argue that this is due to the inadequacy of western feminist concepts in local contexts of the Global South. To overcome these shortcomings, our project draws on insights from intersectionality and postcolonial approaches. These perspectives allow us to analyze the multi-layered dynamics of subordination and superordination to which indigenous women are subjected. They provide us with alternative conceptualizations of gender that help to assess how particular gender clauses resonate with local socio-cultural contexts. Moreover, these approaches are sensitive to the fact that transnational environmental projects are situated in colonially shaped power relations that also have an impact on gender roles within and beyond indigenous communities. We aim at investigating the consequences of transnational environmental initiatives for indigenous women with the help of ethnological research methods (biographical interviews, participant observations) in the Brazilian Amazon. Our results will be helpful to reformulate gender safeguards in a way that they simultaneously improve the living conditions of indigenous women and help to protect the environment. While our project is currently focused on environmental projects, we are looking for cooperation partners in other fields (e.g. development, agriculture) and possibly other regions of the Global South.


climate change, environment, Indigenous women, intersectionality, postcolonialism, sustainability


Organisation Radboud University (RU)
Name Dr. T.R. (Thomas) Eimer