The Picture Show : NPR

“My participation in the march as an Amazonian woman is to praise our rights and violence worldwide.” Portrait of Josefina Tunki, the ex-Executive President of the Government Council of the Shuar Arutam People in Puyo, Ecuador, March 8, 2024.

Tatiana Lopez for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

With rue in hand, guided by the sacred smoke of incense and the legacies of their grandmothers, the Indigenous women of the Ecuadorian Amazon met in the streets last week to commemorate their ongoing fight to protect the Amazon and to bring visibility to their rights, their concerns and to demand the well-being of their bodies and territories.

Women from different Indigenous nationalities traveled from their territories to the city of Puyo on March 8 to march through the city’s streets as they do every year on International Women’s Day as a symbol of their ongoing resistance and to demand equality, a dignified life, health, the defense of their territories and to raise their voices against violence.

Indigenous women take part in the march in Puyo, Ecuador on March 8, 2024.

Tatiana Lopez for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

Indigenous women take part in the march in Puyo, Ecuador on March 8, 2024.

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

“Peace, love, courage, life. Let people know with these four words why we walk and may they raise their voices for all of us.” Marisol Yasacama holds a placard written in Kichwa that says “We must make the voices of girls and young women heard.”

Tatiana Lopez for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

“I march because it is a special day for all women and because we shout with strength to lift other women and thus support each other together.” Portrait of Ñay Gaba of the Waorani and Sapara nationality.

Tatiana Lopez for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

“So women are free so that they do not treat us badly, to be in peace, to live and not be pushed aside, and to assume presidential roles equally” Rosa Chuji, a land defender of the Shiwiar nationality, wrote her quote in the Shiwiar language.

Tatiana Lopez for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

This year, the march was self-organized by women’s collectives and grassroots organizations. Among them were Mujeres Amazónicas, Warmicuna Foundation, Sacha Warmi Collective, Socorro Violeta, Awana Collective, Waorani Women’s Foundation, Pastaza Unida y Solidaria, and Casa de la Mujer.

The event brought together around 100 women who marched with placards that read “Free,” “If your voice does not reach we will all shout for you,” “Today not all our voices are here because from the grave you cannot shout” and “you get tired of hearing it, we get tired of living it,”as the women chanted slogans of resistance and chanting out load slogans of resistance, one of them was:

Alert!

Alert!

Alert who walks

Of the women’s fight

For Latin America

“I have taken part in this march to defend our right as Amazonian women, for our voices to be heard.”- Andrea Wampach of the Achuar nationality, left. “We have taken part in this march to defend our rights, we do not want more violence, wewant equality.” Maria Antonela Mukuink of the Achuar nationality, right. Puyo, Ecuador, March 8, 2024.

Tatiana Lopez for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

The march resounded throughout Puyo until it made its way to the Pastaza governorate, where the women congregated in a representation of their strength and diversity. Women from Ecuador’s Indigenous nationalities, such as Sápara, Kiwcha, Shiwiar, Achuar, Waorani and Siona, accompanied by women from nearby cities, expressed the individual and collective struggles they encountered daily in their territories and around the country.

The women expressed their rejection of the hike in the country’s value added tax rate, budget cuts to universities, and the ongoing destruction of the country’s rainforests, policies imposed by the country’s current president, Daniel Noboa. Raising awareness about the importance of defending ancestral territories from extractive initiatives in Indigenous communities and guaranteeing the rights of women nationwide was a clear statement marchers made during the gathering.

During the march I asked several women if they could answer on a sheet of paper the question “why are you marching?” – these are some of their responses:

A young woman holds the rue plant, a symbol of strength, and lights up incense to cleanse the path women march.

Tatiana Lopez for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

A young woman holds the rue plant, a symbol of strength, and lights up incense to cleanse the path women march.

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

“It was a very important day for me. A woman who is encouraged to live, to smile in the face of our mother’s fight in the womb, I love her as I have been growing. Seeing my grandmother’s footprints today makes me full of joy. I have become a brave woman. Because my grandparents’ dreams are coming true, men are going to destroy the world, we already know that the end of the world is approaching.”

Tatiana Lopez for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

“It was a very important day for me. A woman who is encouraged to live, to smile in the face of our mother’s fight in the womb, I love her as I have been growing. Seeing my grandmother’s footprints today makes me full of joy. I have become a brave woman. Because my grandparents’ dreams are coming true, men are going to destroy the world, we already know that the end of the world is approaching.”

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

“Because I am for Women’s Day and we are marching that we have rights.” Portrait of Sharika Machoa of the Kichwa nationality.

Tatiana Lopez for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

“I march for life, to be here, for women, and if one day I’m not here, I want others to march for me too.” Glenda Yasacama an activist of the Shuar nationality holds a placard that says “Together free without fear.”

Tatiana Lopez for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

“I march for life, to be here, for women, and if one day I’m not here, I want others to march for me too.” Glenda Yasacama an activist of the Shuar nationality holds a placard that says “Together free without fear.”

Tatiana Lopez for NPR

Tatiana Lopez is a documentary photographer based in Ecuador and the United States. You can see more of her work on her website, tatianalopez.space, or on Instagram at@tatianalopez_om.

Photos edited by: Virginia Lozano

Text edited by: Zach Thompson