State of gender equality, nature conservation

A blog post authored by Eleanor, written Thursday 10th March 2022

As much as we at the Habitat People focus many of our conservation efforts on the local community and land here in Aberdeenshire, we also have a great interest in and keep a close eye on the international conservation landscape. After all, the natural world does not adhere to human political boundaries- birds migrate, seeds blow on the wind, currents transverse oceans and move species from one corner of the globe to the other. Wildlife conservation must involve, by its nature, international and intersectional cooperation.

One positive recent event in the international conservation community has been International Women’s Day. The Convention On Biological Diversity hosted a webinar on Best Practices in Gender and Biodiversity, involving speakers from Mexico and Uganda. The case studies in the associated document are even more geographically diverse, from encouraging womens’ participation in biodiversity governance in Nepal to female-led environmental monitoring in India.

Hearing the different approaches that people around the world have taken to combat gender inequality in conservation under their different circumstances was not only truly inspiring but also instructive and

 heartening. I think it is absolutely essential to consider that gender might have an impact on people’s ability to engage in conservation and hinder their ability to enact change- most of the case studies involved issues such as land ownership, women’s lack of assets and the difficulty of getting more women into decision making roles regarding the environment, problems which are rooted in cultural biases and expectations. And although it can be said that the general atmosphere in most conservation groups in the UK is a progressive one, with women beginning to take on leadership roles and making up a large proportion of the workforce, in some places there is still a pronounced gender bias towards men in positions of power. This is especially impactful in positions influencing policy creation, as their reach is potentially far greater. This high-level inequality is holding back UK conservation efforts as it means that those in power will have limited perspectives- a more gender equal management is something that all UK conservation groups should be setting their sites on in 2022.

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