Austronesian Women’s Workshop:
Participation in International Affairs
Indigenous women in Taiwan have achieved much success in international exchanges in professional fields such as academic research, arts and cultures as well social participation. On May 5th, 2018, the Center for International Indigenous Affairs hosted an ‘Women in International Affairs Workshop: A Spring Celebrating of Austronesian Sisterhood’, bringing together different generations of women working on various indigenous issues to speak about their experiences in dialogue with one another.
The morning began with Baitzx Niahosa (Tsou), who had just returned to Taiwan from the 2018 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), sharing discussions on indigenous land, territory and resource management rights at the Forum. She also spoke about the importance of voicing Taiwanese indigenous issues at international events.
Women gathered at the forum have travelled to all corners of the world, including France, U.S., Canada, Guam, Philippines, New Zealand, Palau, and Japan contributing their professional expertise and interests in social work, vocal performance, art performances, visual art and agriculture to building international connections. In the first afternoon session ‘Voicing Women: Public Affairs and Social Participation’, Ciwang Teyra (Truku), Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Work, National Taiwan University with long time commitment to indigenous public affairs, and Sawmah Lasong (Pangcah), a graduate of NDHU who recently received her PhD candidature from France, shared their perspectives as a younger generation. They emphasized the need to root the voices we bring to international gatherings in local connections, more importantly, those participations should not be a one-time visit abroad, rather, they are opportunities to bring back lessons for practice in Taiwan through sustaining long-term support networks.
In ‘Women at Home: Local Practices and Connections to Communities’, Sinan Mavivo (Tao) and Apu’u Kaaviana (Kanakanavu) shared their experiences as woman who have returned to and worked in home communities. Sinan Mavivo spoke humbly about how her important work in the past decade was about promoting the visibility of issues in Orchid Island. Apu’u Kaaviana shared how her participation in international exchange has provided her with inspiration and force to empower her own community through lessons on the resilience of woman and organization building from other countries.
In ‘Women with Beauty: Art and Issue Promotion’, Hana Keliw (Pangcah) and Si Manpang (Tao) spoke on addressing social issues through visual art and music performances. Hana Keliw shared the Pangcah meaning and value in her art residency in France. Si Manpang explained how singing traditional songs is the best way to cross the language barrier in international gatherings.
Professor Tricia Y.C. Lin, Fulbright Scholar, stated that this workshop is a dream come true for her as each of these extraordinary indigenous woman whom she met and stayed in touch throughout the years teaching in the U.S. all gathered together accumulating exuberant energy and friendship. Professor Jolan Hsieh (Bavaragh Dagalomai; Siraya) thanked all of the discussants and audience for joining the event and their effort in demonstrating the diverse perspectives of indigenous women. She explained that the aim of this workshop has successfully realized as an effective mechanism for training talents in indigenous international affairs as participants bounce and spark inspiration off of each other creating a strong network for further collaboration.
News source: National Dong Hwa University