Brazil's Indigenous Women Champion Identity, Rights, With Fashion

Indigenous women in Brasilia, Brazil, used a fashion event during the Third March of Indigenous Women to advocate for rights and land demarcation. They're gaining political influence under President Lula's leadership, challenging past neglect.

Harnur Watta
Sep 14, 2023 20:22 IST
Image credits: CP24

Image credits: CP24

Indigenous women from various communities in Brazil's capital, Brasilia, recently made a powerful statement by showcasing their creations during a fashion event held as part of the Third March of Indigenous Women. 

This event served as a platform not only to celebrate their rich culture and heritage but also to advocate for women's rights and the demarcation of Indigenous lands. 

Under a sprawling white marquee, models adorned in intricate headdresses, necklaces, and traditional attire graced the catwalk, drawing cheers from hundreds of onlookers who eagerly shared the event on social networks.

Championing Indigenous Identity through Fashion


Kajina Maneira da Costa, a 19-year-old from the Nukini people in Acre state near the Peruvian border, shared her nervousness before taking to the stage but expressed immense pride in representing her community. 

She remarked on the prevalence of prejudice, pointing out how it's not normal to see an Indigenous fashion show. Her vibrant yellow dress and headdress exemplified the fusion of tradition and contemporary expression.

Célia Xakriabá, a federal lawmaker hailing from the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, made a powerful statement during her appearance on stage. 


She emphasised that the event aimed to "decolonize fashion" by celebrating Indigenous craftsmanship and heritage. 

In an Instagram post following her appearance, Xakriabá highlighted the significance of their creations, asserting, "Today we showed the power of our creation in clothing…our headdresses and our ancestry. We participate in politics when we sing and parade."


A Shift in Political Landscape

The emergence of Indigenous women in Brazilian politics has gained momentum in recent years, with the Third March of Indigenous Women serving as a testament to their growing influence. 


This shift is also reflected in the country's leadership. 

Following his election victory over the far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva assumed office in January and has demonstrated a markedly different approach towards Indigenous issues.

Bolsonaro's tenure was marked by opposition to Indigenous rights, reluctance to expand Indigenous territories, and a series of statements widely criticised as racist. 


In contrast, President Lula, now in his third non-consecutive term, has taken proactive steps to address the demands of Indigenous communities. 

Under his leadership, eight Indigenous territories have been officially demarcated, and the country's first Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, headed by Indigenous woman Sonia Guajajara, was established.

A Growing Movement


Ana Paula da Silva, a researcher at Rio de Janeiro State University's Indigenous Peoples Study Program, underscored the increasing prominence of Indigenous women, both in Brazil's political landscape and within their communities. 

She remarked that while Indigenous men had visibility, women were adding their strength to the defence of their territory too. 

The Third March of Indigenous Women is a clear message that these women demand recognition and respect, asserting, "We are here, and it's no longer possible to keep ignoring us."

The Third March of Indigenous Women in Brasilia, coupled with their compelling fashion showcase, symbolises a profound transformation in Brazilian society. 

Indigenous women are stepping into the spotlight, advocating for their rights, culture, and land. As the nation's political landscape evolves, their voices are becoming increasingly influential, ensuring that their presence can no longer be ignored. 

This event stands as a testament to their resilience and determination to create a brighter future for Indigenous communities across Brazil.

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