In these societies of oral tradition, indigenous women are responsible for education and language transmission. It is a cultural and identity duty. Their learning models show us the way towards the construction of a plural feminine world.


In Peru, in these societies of oral tradition, indigenous women are responsible for education and transmission of the language. It is a cultural and identity duty. Their learning models show us the way to the construction of a plural feminine world. In Peru, for a long time, school education was offered in the language of the settler, but with more than five million native speakers, the country was the first one to engage in the path of interculturality and the revitalization of languages, to the extent that it has become a model. Women, on the other hand, have seen it as an emancipating factor, especially in the patriarchal Shipibo community in the East of the country in the Amazon jungle. Lidia Gonzales Sanchez is a pioneer in bilingual education. She was the first person to write textbooks based on the Shipibo culture. Today, more than 280 schools use her learning method. Lidia Gonzalez has trained a whole generation of bilingual teachers who have freed themselves from the patriarchal system and have been able to assert their rights.


In northeastern Kenya, in the semi-nomadic Samburu community, the life of small girls can be summed up as hard labor: they walk sixty kilometers a day to find wood or water and they bring the livestock to graze. They do not have the right to speak up and must also submit themselves to ancestral traditions. Their education is almost non-existent. Yet it is the key to emancipation, as Jane Meriwas’ life has proved. A bad shepherdess as a child, her father judged her useless and entrusted her to the Catholic mission. She returned to her community only after the end of her university studies to serve women’s cause. Today, she offers women's empowerment programs and supports young girls by paying for school fees. Today, these girls have great ambitions and dream of becoming doctors or teachers while keeping their Samburu identity.


In Guyana, the Amerindian children of Haut-Maroni must follow the program of the French national education system precisely. Today, because there are no middle schools, children must leave their village at age 11 to go to school on the coast, a brutal change for them. But since these young people didn’t have a traditional education, don’t speak the native language well and end up being rejected by their community, it means that their suicide rate is 20 times higher than that in continental France. It is for these young people who are losing their points of reference that Ti’iwan has become involved in the schools. These “Amers-indians” (a pun on “Bitter Indians”) fight to preserve their identity within the French Republic and want to have their rights respected in the same way as all other citizens of continental France.


In Siberia, in 1892, there were 300,000 people who lived in tents, raised reindeer and gathered, hunted and fished in western Siberia. A century later, there are only 3,500 Khantys left to carry on the tradition. It is a long fight for identity reconquest orchestrated by women like Marina kakabova. Deprived of her culture, Marina studied Russian. She was then appointed to teach in a boarding school and discovered that Khanty children, cut off from their families, ended up losing their traditions. She has also created summer cultural camps in which children discover their roots and their Khanty identity.

Today, these cultural camps are a remedy for despair and the safeguard of this still oppressed and scorned people. As long as the grass grows on the steppe, as long as the birds make their nests at the top of the birch trees, the Khantis will resist.


Through their commitment, Lidia, Jane, Ti'iwan and Marina remind us that education is a right and their cultures a richness for Humanity.








This project is supported by La Fondation CHANEL