In a recent publication of the Global American Journal, the inclusion of indigenous population in Latin American countries was highlighted as a major challenge in terms of political representation, economic prosperity, development, healthcare or access to justice. More than 40 percent of the indigenous population in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru live in
Leading to Change is the important initiative that opened up a conversation about the need to include people representing diverse cultures into leadership positions.
In a recent publication of the Global American Journal, the inclusion of indigenous population in Latin American countries was highlighted as a major challenge in terms of political representation, economic prosperity, development, healthcare or access to justice.
More than 40 percent of the indigenous population in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru live in poverty, as stated in the Global American Report. The cases of Guatemala and Mexico were highlighted as examples that show on the one hand best practices and areas of opportunity for inclusion of indigenous communities but on the other hand failure to act on those opportunities.
Mexico has the largest absolute indigenous population in the region with 17 million people compared to over 45 million people in the whole region. This high proportion of indigenous people is raised as a challenge on how they are represented at the federal, state or even local political level. The Global American research stated that Mexico has the lowest proportion of indigenous representatives in the region. Mexico’s parliament only has 14 indigenous representatives elected which means a striking representation gap between the percentage of indigenous people in the country and the percentage of indigenous members of the legislature: 81% followed by a gap of 73% in Peru and 69% in Guatemala.
Mexico does not demand ethnic-based quotas within political parties’ lists but since 2001, parties have been taking indigenous populations into consideration when drawing electoral districts. However, their representation is still one of the lowest in the region.
On the exercise of prior consultation on decisions affecting indigenous peoples, the Mexican Constitution recognizes the right to prior consultation. Article 2 explicitly states that the government should consult with the indigenous peoples when implementing development plans at the national, state, and municipal level. So far, there is no single overarching law that defines how prior consultation should be implemented in the country.
In this sense, a few weeks ago the legal protection granted by a judge to the community of Milpa Alta, a Southern District of Mexico City, has been considered as a critical decision by local leaders. Following a historical controversy with the government in the capital, the right of the indigenous communities to be consulted on any decision or public policy that affects them or their territories legitimately recognized as original peoples has been recognized by a judge. As stated by the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, this legal text includes the guarantees on indigenous rights established in international and national legislation such as ILO Convention 169.
As part of the conclusions of the Working Group on Sustainability and Shared Societies convened by the Club de Madrid through its Shared Societies Project, the special relationship that indigenous peoples have with their ancestral and customary territories is a critical reason to ensure their participation in decisions that affect their lands. The ability of indigenous peoples not only to maintain their own cultural context but also to fulfil their responsibilities to future generations, demonstrates the significance of their own local government systems, as is stated by this recent judicial decision on the community of Milpa Alta in Mexico City.
Australia’s population can be described as a truly multicultural society. With 28 percent of the population born overseas, it is fundamentally important for many to promote a new inclusive way of leadership that would represent the cultural diversity of the local population.
An initiative to promote Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership was organized by Tim Soutphommasane, Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner, together with Australian Human Rights Commission, the University of Sydney Business School, Westpac, PwC Australia and Telstra.
The working group created a blueprint, Leading for Change, for organizations to take advantage of the cultural diversity of their workers and promote inclusive leadership that would meet current demands of the multicultural society.
The CEO of Westpac Group, Brian Hartzer, points out that “This Blueprint will help Australian businesses to see what best practice looks like when it comes to cultural inclusion. We think that the Blueprint will have a powerful impact in the community…”.
Leading to Change is the important initiative that opened up a conversation about the need to include people representing diverse cultures into leadership positions. The research conducted by the working group suggests that inclusive leadership produces better performance, productivity and decision-making. Leading for Change provides guidance for organizations to improve organizational performance related to cultural diversity and inclusive leadership.
Following the blueprint’s release in 2016, the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity was formed, which consists of senior leaders who advocate for cultural diversity in leadership. The Council indicates the under-representation of cultural diversity in leadership positions among Australian companies. Therefore, the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity regularly holds events and activities to encourage inclusive leadership.
One of the Shared Societies commitments is to promote respect, understanding and appreciation of diversity, and the Cultural Diversity and Leadership program in Australia can be used as a success story of embracing cultural diversity and a step forward towards creating a Shared Society.
Although 25 million of Mexican considered themselves as part of indigenous groups, a group of educational researchers noticed that kids could not find toys or games in any of the 68 indigenous languages spoken in Mexico by more than 7 million of people. As stated by the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INE) the number of indigenous languages speakers has fallen from 16% of the population in 1930 to barely 6% today.
In an article published on July 27th, the Spanish journal El País highlighted a research project developed in Mexico aimed to teach Mexican kids indigenous languages.
The project developed by a research group of the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE) alongside the Higher Center of Social Anthropology (CIESAS) is aimed to promote among kids the languages spoken by their parents and grandparents. A couple of dolls, “Paquita” and “Paquito”, have been designed wearing indigenous clothing as a model of social identification for minors, says Aurelio López, research at the INAOE. Paquitos are recommended for children aged between 2 and 4 years old including various types of interactive games. The doll can speak, saying the parts of the body in the specific language when the child presses it.
The project, entitled “Development of tangible educational and pedagogical robots for the learning and revaluation of indigenous languages” is being tested by the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) as part of Mexico’s recent efforts to promote endangered languages.
An educational policy that promotes pluralism, diversity and mutual understanding is part of the Shared Societies Commitments to ensure an education system that offers equal opportunity and educates children to understand and respect others. In addition to this, the bilingualism and the promotion of indigenous languages also “endow children with other abilities in their reasoning”, emphasizes Lopez.
Watch a video in Spanish with additional information about this initiative: