05 Aug 2020

COVID-19 in Rural & Marginalized Areas, Episode Nine

Indigenous Peoples - inclusion in times of COVID-19In episode eight, we discussed how the pandemic cannot be an excuse to not invest in the social and economic lives of marginalized communities, especially women who suffer disproportionately to men. Here, in episode nine, we give an update on our demand for better and more from the federal government while discussing what UNESCO’s Mexico office is doing to respond to Mexico’s indigenous peoples’ COVID-19 unique vulnerabilities while sharing a PSYDEH nurse colleague’s first-hand experience on the front lines in Hidalgo.


PSYDEH’s effort to help local partner indigenous women unite to demand that Mexico’s government respects their human rights in part by responding to our Article: indigenous women await validation of their projectsopen letter addressed to Mexico’s President on proper funding of local-focused projects has been picked up by the local press in this August 4 article.

The COVID-19 pandemic makes life in indigenous communities harder, especially for women. And, thus, work towards realizing the 2030 Sustainable Development goals is dramatically slowed. So reports UNESCO’s Mexico office in its early-August note,Pueblos indígenas y COVID-19: una mirada desde México” (Indigenous Peoples and COVID-19: a view from Mexico). As they write, Mexico’s indigenous population, roughly 10% of its 120 million, has forever wrestled against marginalization and poverty. It’s increasingly clear that these already hard conditions, including for example in areas like education, gender violence, indigenous cultural and language identity, and communication technology, have become worse over the past four months. UNESCO argues, therefore, and PSYDEH agrees, that the government and civil society, and citizens must work hard to include the visions and needs of indigenous people in smartly responding to the pandemic in the months to come. To learn more about UNESCO’s efforts, see:

  • UNESCO seminar cycle titled, “Inclusión en tiempos de COVID-19” (Inclusion in COVID-19 Times)Dialogues on COVID-19 between PSYDEH and Women
  • Spanish language UNESCO report on how indigenous women are especially impacted

To offer a local perspective on COVID-19, we’ll be sharing a few interviews from friends and partners over the coming month. Here, you can read a recent PSYDEH interview with a Rosalba Gonzalez Gabriel, PSYDEH friend and nurse with deep experience serving rural indigenous communities, on her thoughts about COVID-19 effects on rural Mexico. 


Global resources on rural and marginalized and indigenous communities and COVID-19 were uncommon a few months back but there are now numerous solid materials available. We suggest this Spanish-language piece, a presentation by José Francisco Calí Tzay, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, at the Virtual Conference “The Rights of Indigenous Peoples under COVID-19”, including such recommendations to government authorities and to authorities of the communities of the indigenous peoples:

  • Spare no effort to ensure that communities have the information (sound, early, and timely) for the prevention and containment of the pandemic using indigenous languages.


  • It should be remembered that the traditional authorities of Indigenous peoples, in the face of any program intended to be implemented in their communities, have the right to be informed and consulted in advance, and the government authorities, according to the international instruments already cited, are obliged to proceed accordingly.


  • Suspend any project that, prior to the pandemic, did not meet all the necessary requirements of the mandatory consultation.



PSYDEH is a non-profit civil association, which was formed by the initiative of a group of young women from the municipality of Santiago Tulantepec in the State of Hidalgo. PSYDEH is committed to working with and for the most vulnerable communities in the region through the promotion of a Sustainable Human Development.