Why forests

Empowering Women

It’s a sad truth that climate change will disproportionately impact those who are already vulnerable. The marginalized, the poor and those who depend on natural resources will be hit hardest, and hit first. The reality is this is often women.

Women perform 66% of the world’s work and produce 50% of the food, yet earn only 10% of the income and own 1% of the property. Whether the issue is improving education in the developing world, or fighting global climate change, or addressing nearly any other challenge we face, empowering women is a critical part of the equation.’

Bill Clinton, Former US President

Changes to weather that affect crops, access to water and the availability of resources will inevitably be felt first by women. After all, it’s most often women who grow food and are responsible for the water and fuel for their families and communities.

Making equality a priority

Women are currently globally under-represented in government, policy-making and corporate leadership. All too often they have a weak public voice and less power to determine their futures.

And this seems to be a situation that is systemically ingrained in traditions and cultures around the world.

We believe that working to redress this imbalance and deliver gender equality is a priority for effective climate action. In fact, we think that the transition to a low-carbon world gives us an opportunity to ensure we enshrine these values in the future we are working to create.  We know that increasing the number of women represented across the political process is a vital step forward, and so is developing ‘gender-responsive’ climate policy on the ground.

The Paris Agreement on climate change is one great example of this as a key pillar is to tip the balance of power back towards women.

Transforming systems

While women’s public voice may be compromised, they have much greater impact closer to home.

Women worldwide control an impressive 64%1 of household spending, so fairness aside, it makes sound economic sense to include women in climate policy.

So transform a woman’s prospects and the positive effect is felt by themselves, their families and whole communities.

Stewards of the forest

While forest land is largely controlled by men, women really are the resident experts3.

In indigenous forest-dwelling communities, women are proven to be uniquely knowledgeable about the natural resources around them, from food sources and medicinal plants to wildlife and how species in the ecosystem interact.

Women in these communities are also the primary users of forest resources, standing to lose the most if they’re destroyed4. They know just how closely fundamental survival is tied up in the forest around them.

That makes women perfect stewards, keenly understanding the vested interest they have in preserving the delicate relationship between natural ecosystems.

We believe in the power of women

It’s hardly surprising that forest conservation projects like ours champion women. We consider them to be both capable and essential contributors to any lasting climate solution and we celebrate the incredible connection they have with the natural world.

It is also important to have women represented in positions of leadership in all areas, including in business. We are proud to have a team at Ecosphere+ which is led by and comprised mostly of women.

Case Study: Women Farmers in Peru

projects-cordillera-azul-cocoa-collection

A woman farmer harvesting cocoa pods in Peru

One shining example of our commitment to empowering women can be found in the Amazon Basin where we are helping to preserve more than 1.3 million hectares of pristine rainforest within the Cordillera Azul National Park. Of the 400 jobs that are being created, 30% will go to women. These are conservation and agriculture jobs, such as growing cocoa crops in the buffer zone and working in the cocoa collection centre. Balance, reinstated.

Read more about the Cordillera Azul project here.

Make change happen

Our conservation projects actively enable positive and lasting change for women and the forests on which they depend.

So if you’re passionate about gender equality and helping women determine their own destinies while protecting our natural environment, why not join us?

Find out more about the work we do all over the world.

Helping to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainable Development Goal 5 – Gender Equality
Sustainable Development Goal 10 – Reduced Inequalities

[1] Catalyst (2015) Buying Power: Global Women. New York: Catalyst, May 20, 2015

[2] Clinton Global Initiative. Empowering Girls & Women. Accessed April 4, 2017

[3] UN Women Watch (2009) Fact Sheet: Women, Gender Equality and Climate Change

[4] IUCN (2011) International Women’s Day – women in forest communities need louder voice. Accessed April 4, 2017