Breaking the bias: promoting women’s rights in conservation

On International Women’s Day 2022, we share the highlights of IUCN NL’s and our partners’ work on women’s rights in conservation.

Header photo: IUCN NL team members at the Women’s March in Amsterdam

Defending your territory

In 2021 a number of our partners took the floor to raise their voice about the role of women in the fight for environmental justice. At the IUCN World Conservation Congress, three defenders shared their compelling stories on what it means to be a woman environmental defender in Uganda, Bolivia and the Philippines, where civic space is becoming more and more restricted. Diana Nabiruma (AFIEGO), Ruth Alipaz Cuiqi (CONTIOCAP) and Cheryl Polutan (LILAK) reflected on the myriad of challenges women face additionally to defend the territory, COVID19 only amplifying the challenges.

IUCN NL, together with our Bolivian partners Marta Esber, (Fundacion Plurales), Ruth Alipaz (CONTIOCAP) and Bernarda Pesoa facilitated a session at the Global South Women’s Forum 2021 where they exchanged on the challenges they faced related to the mining concessions on their territories in Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina and the strategies they apply to protect themselves and their land.

Meeting drawing of the session during the Global South Women’s Forum 2021

Women leadership

Sometimes life offers you the chance to meet individuals who push boundaries that have been stuck for ages – individuals who create a crack in rigid walls. One such individual is Judy, the founder of LILAK who stands up for the rights of Indigenous women in the Philippines. Judy’s story is part of a publication that showcases a group of women who challenged the status quo in their patriarchal societies, and by standing up, created space for other women while protecting nature. If you want to get inspired by the work of LILAK, check out the video of their 2021 activities.

Increased income for women

In West Sumatra in Indonesia, a group of women saw an opportunity to increase their income by producing oil from candlenuts. These nuts are a plentiful resource in the region, but their potential had not yet been fully exploited. After receiving a training on how to make high quality oil from these nuts, seven women’s groups are now producing the oil and have found their way to the market.

An inclusive Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil

Our Indonesian partner Sawit Watch and CNV shared their knowledge on gender and seasonal labour in the palm oil sector, with a platform of NGOs led by IUCN NL. Based on this session the board of the RSPO (the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil) invited Sawit Watch and CNV to host a special session to raise awareness and address gender and seasonal informal labour sufficiently in the RSPO criteria.

Women in conservation

In 2021 the land acquisition fund of IUCN NL developed the podcast series the Conservation Inspiration podcast. In one of the episodes we spoke to Hana Raza, who is pioneering leopard conservation in Iraq. In the podcast, Hana also shares her experiences as a young woman in the male-dominated conservation world and how she breaks the bias.

Commitment for women’s rights in 2022

The top commitment of IUCN NL this year on gender is to #Breakthebias for women’s rights. Women, in all their diversity often stand at the frontline to protect our earth. They are integrally involved in nature conservation. Yet, they still face discrimination within decision-making processes around their forests, waters and lands.

‘Together with our partners we commit to empower female leaders. In 2022, we will continue our work for women’s rights and empowerment in conservation, taking an intersectional approach.’

Coenraad Krijger, director IUCN NL

From an organizational perspective, IUCN NL is actively working on becoming more gender inclusive. Frederique Holle, IUCN NL gender expert : ‘We have regular dialogues about gender and inclusivity in our office. Because we believe that if we want to break the bias and achieve gender equality, we need to look at ourselves and our own assumptions to genuinely make a difference.’

Learn more? Contact our women’s rights expert:

Frederique Holle
Expert Environmental Justice