Neris Uriana

Photograph of Neris. Image Credit: Lucy Sherriff/PRI.

By Gabby Storey

Neris Uriana was appointed the first female chief of the Wayuu tribe in La Guajira, Colombia, in 2005. Historically, men were elected to rule the community, however since the appointment of Neris the decision has been made to only elect female leaders going forward.

Prior to her election, Neris was actively involved in providing support to the community. Her efforts have enabled women to be more actively involved in the tribe’s activities and take up leadership roles.

Neris’ husband, Jorge Uriana, was previously community leader and worked to facilitate his wife’s acceptance as a female leader, both in the community and in neighbouring villages.

Neris has helped to educate the community with regards to agriculture by bringing in external educators, and transformed their way of life with an agricultural initiative that has enabled year round sustainability.

Neris will remain tribe chief until she chooses to step down, or another member of the community wishes to take up the role.  

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