What we can learn from indigenous communities around the world  



One of the most beautiful things about our world is its diversity. In every corner of the earth, there are communities of people from different cultures who, together, make up the vibrant fabric of humanity. Contributing to this is, of course, the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples whose unique heritages weave richness into our societies.


 Goal 10 of the Sustainable Development Goals specifically aims to reduce inequalities by 2030.

 Unfortunately, while only making up approximately 5% of the global population, indigenous people account for 15% of the most impoverished. This inequality is simply unacceptable. With Goal 10 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals aimed at reducing disparities like this, Plan International is committed to supporting an equal and just world for all. For years, we’ve been working alongside girls, boys, men and women of indigenous communities across the globe to break down barriers, eliminate the discrimination they face, and create education and economic opportunities to help them thrive. Join us as we celebrate and share the inspiring lessons we’ve learned from different indigenous groups around the world!


The ripple effect of women’s economic empowerment – Maya people, Guatemala

According to the UN, indigenous children are unfortunately far less likely to attend and succeed in school than non-indigenous children. For indigenous girls who already face discrimination because of their age and gender, achieving an education can be even more challenging. 


 Reina and other women are gaining economic empowerment!

 In this Mayan community in Guatemala, Plan International is working to provide women like Reina, who often have little more than an elementary school education, with microfinance opportunities as well as financial management and literacy training. With their newfound knowledge, Reina and a group of friends started their own business, called “Joyitas de las Minas” or “Treasure of Mine”, where they sell woven products, like bags and tablecloths. Now, they’re gaining economic empowerment, and Reina’s proudly supporting her daughters’ education! Not only that, these women are eagerly sharing their knowledge with others – passing their business knowledge on to their children, as well as other members of their community! As a result, they’re strengthening their self-esteem, and playing a larger role in the decision-making processes at home and in the community.

The value of education – Baka people, Cameroon



 Yie’s from a Baka community in Cameroon and loves to learn, and hopes to see more Baka children going to school

Living in the rainforests of Cameroon, the Baka people are far removed from services, including schools, so education rates in their communities can often be quite low. Language barriers also contribute to low school enrolment. To address this, Plan International embarked on an innovative initiative to reform education programs to suit the cultural and learning needs of the Baka people. With the recent launch of a curriculum that respects their language and identity, paired with the provision of scholarships, children are now getting the chance their parents never had to achieve an education and transform their futures! “I wish to continue my studies and build a career in medicine,” shared 8-year-old Chanceline. For other children like 13-year-old Yie, education is now something for Baka children to love and enjoy, and she’s glad to “attend school with pride”!

The power of an identity – Muser hill tribe, Thailand


 23-year-old Napeu holds her identity card, which protects her rights as a citizen of Thailand.

Living in the northern regions of Thailand are tens of thousands of indigenous people. Unfortunately, many of them are “stateless” – meaning their births were never registered, and so they have no legal rights or status within their own country. Without legal rights, these “stateless” people struggle to access services like education or healthcare and, as a result, also face challenges when it comes to finding work. As a member of the Muser hill tribe, 23-year-old Napeu knows firsthand what it’s like to grow up without a legal identity. “I wished to have Thai citizenship like my other friends,” shared Napeu. “At that time, I missed the opportunity to get a scholarship because I was stateless.” Now with Plan International’s support, Napeu and hundreds of others, received official citizenship, and we’re working to ensure newborns and children have their births registered too! Having always dreamed of being a nurse, Napeau can now receive the education she deserves! “It’s taken me years to reach this day. Now I can make my dream of being a nurse a reality.” August 9 is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, a day to celebrate the cultures and identities of indigenous groups around the world, as well as recognize and address the challenges many communities, including those in Canada, continue to face. To reduce inequalities and create a just world for all means tackling the barriers and discrimination that impact indigenous people across the globe.

Keys to success: education, identity and economic empowerment

The importance of achieving an education, gaining legal identity and spreading women’s economic empowerment are critical to the success of communities around the world. See how you can help children and families access these opportunities and thrive! 


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