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Nina, Eco Activist

“Throughout my life I have seen what development looks like at it’s best and at what cost: The cost of my home, The Amazon and the future of my people." Nina Gualinga

Nina, who are you and what shaped you?

As a daughter of a Swedish father and an indigenous Kichwa mother from the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon, I have grown up in two radically different worlds. I grew up in a thriving jungle, running barefoot, climbing up the trees to pick fruits, eating fresh fish from the river and working hard with my family. I have also lived and studied in Sweden, doing things like having "fika" with friends, and going for hikes in the northern mountains. At the age of 8, an oil company violently entered my community, The Kichwa People of Sarayaku, with military troops provided by the Ecuadorian government. It was in that moment I decided to fight for the Amazon and the people that live there. Ever since, I have dedicated my life to advocate for indigenous rights and protecting the Amazon rainforest. I became a mother two and half years ago, and ever since this has become even more important to me. Throughout my life I have also seen what development looks like at it’s best and at what cost: The cost of my home, The Amazon and the future of my people.

Tell us about what you do and the career path you have chosen.

For the past few years I have participated in both national and international efforts to protect the Amazon trough international conferences, meetings, marches, writing and campaigns. I have met many people around the world that have lent a hand and supported the fight for the Amazon. But what is most important to me and what I feel strongest about is to work with people on the ground, the people of the communities living in the Amazon. Currently I am working with indigenous women across the Ecuadorian Amazon to protect their (our) territories, families and rights. I am also involved with a non-profit organization that recently supported the Waorani people in winning a legal battle against the Ecuadorian government.

 What does feminism mean to you? 

Feminism is a path towards freedom. Freedom to be, to think, to speak and demand justice when our rights are not being respected. 

Do you consider yourself a feminist?

I do. I think it is more important to take a stand and be part of the change for a more equal and inclusive world. 

What message do you want to send out to your female friends and colleagues?

As I grow older and gain more life experience, and after all the things I have been through as a woman, I have come to realize how important it is for women to stick together. To respect and support each other. To love ourselves with all our differences and to see the beauty in it. Be there for other women and surround yourself with women that see your light and lift you up!  

What is power to you?

To me power means responsibility. Responsibility towards yourself and the people around you, and nature. Love. Love is power. In all its different shapes. 

What is beauty to you?

There is beauty in everything. Even in hard times. I think it is what you make of what you see, what you feel, and what you go through. 

What is the best advice you have ever received?

"You’ll find healing trough the plants and you will find strength within yourself." I carry that wherever I go. 

What is most important in life?

Freedom. Freedom of mind. Freedom of body. Freedom to choose. Freedom of justice.

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