“We achieve more when we work with women”
As governments and major coporartions begin at last to respond to the scale of the climate crisis, it’s vital to remember that much of the work on the ground is done by women and men who know their landscapes and understand the damage that has been done and the risks they face.
“It is the women who understand more, and are best placed to take the lead if they can somehow get the opportunity. Yet frequently women are marginalised”
International Tree Foundation supports communities who plant trees and restore forests: women and men who care about the future for their children and grandchildren.
Frequently it is the women who understand more, and are best placed to take the lead if they can somehow get the opportunity. In many countries where we work, women deal with the realities of forest loss and land degradation first hand: declining and polluted water supplies; scarce fuel for cooking; degraded and infertile soils – and the challenge of feeding large families from tiny plots of land. Yet frequently women are marginalised: excluded from decision making and given no rights over land or trees. And, in the face of that marginalisation, it is often women who understand that real action can only be taken when people come together to work as a community.
“Sometimes we hear from our partners that it is hard to work with women”
Our practical experience of supporting communities who plant trees and restore forests is that we achieve more when we work with women. Many women in the areas we work, have a lot of knowledge of trees and forests in terms of biological diversity, sustainable management and use for various purposes, and conservation practices. Women are aware of the food and medicinal values of forest products, which are particularly important during food crises.
More need to be done in terms of policies and practices that empower women in the forest sector including facilitating women’s participation in forest user groups, capacity building, improving their access to modern sources of energy, and enhancing their access to processing techniques and this would make a major difference in the livelihoods of forest dependent people and their societies.
“Our partners have shown it is possible to tackle those constraints and even, slowly to begin change those assumptions”
Sometimes we hear from our partners that it is hard to work with women, or that women cannot be allowed to participate. Yet as our partners in Cameroon (ERuDeF, COMAID and CENDEP) have shown, it is possible to tackle those constraints and even, slowly to begin change those assumptions.
As we approach International Women’s Day, we celebrate the remarkable work of women in the projects we support:
- Margret Masika of Alpha Women Empowerment Initiative (AWEI) who brings together more than a thousand women to plant trees on the steep slopes of the Rwenzori mountains in Uganda and to protect the Rwenzori Forest.
- Nathalie Raharilaza of Ny Tanintsika and Soazara Ranivoarivelo of EDENA and the wonderful women groups who protect the remaining forest corridor in Madagascar.
- Julian Wanja, Esther Wawira and Charlene Wandera and the wonderful women groups who grow trees on the slopes of Mount Kenya.
- Noormichuki Chesingei and the Women Tree Planters of the Mara.
- And our supporters TreeSisters, who have shown what a global community of women can achieve.
We thank them and many others who demonstrate the power of women working together.