Supporting Centro Originarias, the First Indigenous Women’s Empowerment Centre in South America

February 18, 2020

Indigenous community members jointed representatives from local government, Teck Chile, and UN Women this past September to celebrate the opening of Centro Originarias in Iquique, Chile – a unique facility that will help to empower Indigenous women.

The first of its kind in South America, the Centro Originarias provides Indigenous women with tools and training to develop skills, build networks, and improve their well-being through economic opportunity. To date, more than 180 women from communities throughout the region have received training and 25 indigenous women have been trained as economic development facilitators.

"This is an historic commitment to Indigenous women who face high levels of discrimination, exclusion and violence. Despite the challenges they face, Indigenous women are a prominent example of agents of change in the global struggle for gender equality and the collective rights of their peoples,” said María Noel Vaeza, UN Women Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean.

"The Centro Originarias will help ensure that Indigenous women in northern Chile and their families have opportunities to develop their careers and broaden their skills and knowledge; the opportunity to create a good quality of life and build a solid future,” said Herman Urrejola, Teck Chile's Community Management and Social Responsibility Manager.

“We are especially proud that the Centre has been built in the Tarapacá Region, the region where we are building our Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project," added Herman.

Teck first got involved in the project through our partnership with UN Women to create the Originarias program. Established in in 2016, Originarias promotes the empowerment, leadership, and greater economic and social participation of Indigenous women in the Tarapacá region of northern Chile.

Through the Originarias program, 70 women from the regions of Tarapacá, Antofagasta, Atacama and Coquimbo were engaged to identify the economic empowerment needs of Indigenous women

Based on their input, Teck made the commitment to build a center of excellence for the economic empowerment of Indigenous women that provides training courses and business development. The center will also provide access to opportunities for promotion, financing and marketing in coordination with public and private institutions. Since the program started, 90% of participants reported that their skills have improved.

"I had the opportunity to develop my sales techniques and business model, which helps to add value to my products," said Flora Reyes Mendez, who uses ancestral techniques to produce aromatic and medicinal plants in the oasis of Pica.

Centro Originarias anticipates that in 2020, 400 indigenous women will be trained in leadership and business, 400 will participate in workshops organized by trainers at the local level, and 600 women will use spaces for training and collaborative work.

Through our involvement with the Centro Originarias and the Originarias program, Teck supports the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, mainly: SDG1 Poverty, SDG4 Quality education, SDG5 Gender equality, SDG8 Quality work and economic growth and SDG17 Partnerships.

Learn more about our approach to build strong and lasting relationships in the Relationships with Indigenous Peoples section of our website.

First Published on February 18, 2020