Indigenous and Rural Women Conserve Mother Earth and Empower Their Communities

On this International Women’s Day, we bring you a photo essay about Indigenous and rural women and their innate connection to nature. Women’s rights and gender equality are crucial for not just women, but also for their communities and the environment. Women play a key role in the conservation of biodiversity and forests. A growing body of evidence shows that increasing women’s leadership in natural resource management and governance is not only beneficial for biodiversity but also empowers women, increases their livelihood opportunities, improves their ability to plan for their families and results in positive outcomes for their communities.

Across the world, women are often the principle caretakers of their families and responsible for important tasks like energy generation; collection of food, water and medicine; seed saving; and generating income for their families. Hence, with the loss of biodiversity and forests, women are disproportionally affected, bearing increased burdens to make ends meet. Women are also often excluded from decision-making and prevented from owning key resources like land. Many national policies also exhibit patriarchal and discriminatory attitudes (e.g. patrimonial land inheritance). On this Women’s Day, let us be reminded that the struggle for women’s rights is far from over and more crucial than ever.

Indigenous and Rural Women Conserve Mother Earth and Empower Their Communities

These are women from the Minangkabau Indigenous tribe in West Sumatra, Indonesia. Many women work as farm laborers to earn an additional income, but they only earn half of what men earn for the same number of hours. In this village, women have been organizing to obtain social forestry management permits to ensure that they can benefit from the sustainable use of forest products and also conserve their forests by aiding in their regeneration. Photo: Chaus Uslaini

Indigenous and Rural Women Conserve Mother Earth and Empower Their Communities

Pictured here is a Rendille woman from Kenya. Rendilles are pastoralists, keeping camels, goats and sheep. Because of acute drought, most of the men have migrated away in search of…

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