Indigenous Law and Capabilities from a Gendered Perspective

Duff, Danielle (2009). "Indigenous Law and Capabilities from a Gendered Perspective " Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.

The states of Oaxaca and Chiapas in southern Mexico are poor, indigenous, and developmentally marginalized from the northern beneficiaries of the modern political economy. The “indigenous question” has been a popular point of discussion in the international community over the past decade. There has been an international recognition that indigenous populations have specific needs that have not been adequately addressed by their respective nations, particularly in the realm of development. This paper will look specifically at the development of indigenous women in southern Mexico through justice. Seeing development as an expansion of human capability, the judicial system provides a new institutional space in which women can challenge structural factors of gender inequality, ideally resulting in greater economic, social and political opportunity. Beginning with an examination of the existing policies and mandates in Mexican law and politics, this paper seeks to determine the reality of these policies in practice. Once the framework for judicial reform is in place, the change happens in the enforcement. The existence of indigenous institutions creates a respectful and familiar space for dialogue, especially for women. On the other hand, indigenous law and custom maintains traditions of staunch patriarchy and cemented gender roles.
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