Today we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) and we encourage all to “Embrace Equity”. We look back on the inspirational achievements on women’s rights and gender justice in conservation, spearheaded by IUCN NL and partners in 2022.

Header photo: Members of the he Sunkpa Shea Women’s Cooperative (c) A Rocha Ghana

Women’s cooperative for shea in Ghana

One exciting example of women’s leadership is the women’s cooperative for shea in Ghana. This cooperative, supported by our partner A Rocha Ghana, is made up of over 500 women who work together to produce shea butter sustainably and improve their livelihoods. The cooperative has implemented sustainable harvesting and processing practices, and has established strong relationships with local communities and authorities.

In recognition of their efforts, the cooperative was awarded the prestigious Equator Prize in 2022. The prize recognizes outstanding community and indigenous initiatives that are advancing nature conservation and sustainable development. The women’s cooperative for shea is a shining example of how women’s leadership and sustainable livelihoods can contribute to positive change for people and nature.

Escazú Agreement and gender inequality

The Escazú Agreement is a treaty that aims to protect environmental defenders and promote transparency and public participation in environmental decision-making in Latin America and the Caribbean. Gender equality and the participation of women and marginalized groups in environmental decision-making are highlighted in the agreement. IUCN NL hosted a panel discussion ensuring the inclusion of a gendered perspective in the Escazú Agreement during a side event of the agreement’s first Conference of the Parties. Learn more in this article.

Gender, Indigenous and human rights in the Global Biodiversity Framework

An important highlight this year was the newly developed and adopted Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) that will guide biodiversity conservation efforts for the next decade. The framework recognizes the importance of human rights, gender equality, and social justice in biodiversity conservation. Target 22 and target 23 specifically address Indigenous peoples and women’s rights. These targets acknowledge that biodiversity loss and climate change disproportionately affect women, Indigenous peoples, and marginalised communities, and calls for actions to address these inequalities.

To prioritise gender and human rights in biodiversity conservation, the GBF calls for the full and effective participation of women in decision-making processes. Read our partner organisation FARN’s blogpost to learn more about implementing the GBF to meet the needs and perspectives of women and marginalised groups.

Meet Hana Raza

Hana Raza was born in one of the Peshmerga camps of freedom fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan. When she was only few months old, the camp where she was staying was attacked with chemical weapons. Her family fled up north, into the mountains, where they and other families sought protection. Today, Hana protects the mountains that provided her safety and shelter when she was a child. Hana has set up her own foundation: Leopards Beyond Borders and has achieved a lot in the Qara Dagh Nature Reserve. Woman in a man’s world. She sees no difference between her male colleagues and herself, but the outside world sees it differently.

Feminists for Forests

IUCN NL hosted the webinar “Feminists for Forests,” during the Partos Innovation Festival.  The connections between gender, forests, and climate justice where explored by the panelists who discussed the ways in which women’s rights and forest conservation intersect, and how feminist approaches can lead to more just and sustainable outcomes.

Women leadership

International Women’s Day celebrates women’s achievements, including in conservation, and acknowledges the challenges ahead. Our work with women has shown time and again that they are critical leaders for nature conservation, environmental protection and sustainable livelihoods. Their contributions are vital to people’s and nature’s wellbeing. By challenging gender bias and embracing equity, we can create a gender just and sustainable world.

Learn more? Contact our expert:

Frederique Holle
Expert Environmental Justice