Conservation is a Living No One Behind global and local agenda. In Rwanda as in many other African countries, women are increasingly taking on responsibility for managing small-scale agriculture. They do not have an equivalent voice in decision-making related to land use, nor equal access to needed resources. Biodiversity loss also poses a disproportionate burden for women and girls by increasing the time required to obtain necessary resources such as water, and fuelwood which reduces the time they can spend on income-generating activities and education.. Beyond equity, enabling women’s full engagement in biodiversity decisions is critical to ensure that biodiversity conservation and sustainable use efforts are successful in the long term. Without the contributions and buy-in of women and girls, these efforts risk overlooking the root causes of biodiversity loss, as well as potential solutions, and may continue to perpetuate gender inequalities. It is high time to do a better job by involving women in conservation as the teachers and cultural leaders not as home keepers.
ENGAGING WOMEN IN CONSERVATION
WE NEED CHANGE, THE TIME IS NOW
From its very early days, Nature Rwanda has been instrumental in engaging and empowering women’s groups by bringing them to the forefront of conservation. GESI is a critical element of Nature Rwanda. We allocate our attention and resources to the local level, to ensure that projects and programs are implemented in ways that address gender issues. We are here to spread awareness among women and girls of proposed biodiversity-related actions that affect them, and we build their knowledge about their rights and options for contributing to shaping those actions. It is also critical to fully engage and support men and boys to enable the empowered participation of women and girls in biodiversity conservation. Men and boys should understand and support measures for women’s empowerment, to ensure that these measures can be accepted in the community. Our inclusive approach contributes to addressing the root causes of inequalities, through creating awareness and promoting long-term beneficial actions
Integrating Gender Social Inclusion Considerations in our Program Design
Here are the steps on how to overcome barriers and obstacles through our program design. While this example is focused on women’s empowerment, these three steps are relevant to the women groups we are targeting in our program.