The award recognizes women around the world who are working to preserve the planet. The theme this year is wetlands and natural areas at risk.

Paris, France, April 11, 2023 – This evening, the city of Paris hosted the 2023 Terre de Femmes International Award ceremony. ​The theme of the 5th edition of the Terre de Femmes International Award focused on the preservation or restoration of wetlands and was awarded to women or a women’s collective protecting biodiversity. With more than 30 years of dedication to the territorial defense of the Kukama Kukamiria Indigenous nation, in Peru, Mariluz Canaquiri Murayari was one of the awardees of the night.

Mariluz has worked tirelessly in the defense of the Marañón River, which is her home and that of her ancestors, and the Kukama Indigenous nation’s territory. This territory includes what is today the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve and its buffer zone which, houses a large expanse of floodplain rainforests inhabited by Kukama communities.

Mariluz is the president of the Federation of Kukama Indigenous Women “Huaynakana Kamatahuara” (working women), and has dedicated her entire adult life to defending her territory to ensure that future generations can count on what the Kukama people call “eranan kakiri,” which means “to live well.” 

The Huaynakana Kamatahuara promote the leadership of Kukama women in defense of their territory, their bodies, and their collective rights. They also promote self-recognition of their ancestral roots and recovering their mother tongue. Their current areas of work include territorial defense and promotion and defense of individual and collective rights, stopping gender violence, intercultural health and reproductive rights, environmental and climate justice, sovereignty and food security, as well as vida plena and buen vivir which are indigenous concepts of sustainable and good living, welfare.

“Mariluz is a powerful leader and a determined defender of the Marañón River. Mariluz and her Kukama community, especially the women, are seeking the rights of the Marañón River and the protection of their ancestral territories in Amazonia. They are seeking through the court system protections and restoration due to the decades of the negative impacts of oil extraction, and more recently threats from the Amazonia Waterway and 22 proposed dams on the Marañón”.

Monti Aguirre, from International Rivers

International Rivers joins Mariluz and the Kukama people to work for the permanent protections of the Marañón River.

Launched in 2019, by the Yves Rocher Foundation, the Terre de Femmes International Award is an environmental prize focused on the leadership of women in the protection of nature. As the organizers explain, “Despite the sensitivity, pragmatism and expertise of women are qualities that shine through on the ground despite the sometimes challenging conditions, paving the way for innovative possibilities, fostering a new sense of community and encouraging inventive, groundbreaking forms of cooperation in favor of biodiversity. Because protecting the future starts today and because tackling the climate emergency requires every ounce of energy and drive out there, we launched our International Award so that all women around the world working to protect the environment could step forward.”

Featured photo: Mirella Pretell Gomero/Huaynakana Kamatahuara Kana