Biodiversity refers to the total number of species and ecosystems in a region. As human beings, our ability to live on this planet– to breath air, consume food and water, and cure disease– is intricately linked to biodiversity.
At present, the planet is facing an escalating loss of species across our natural environment, roughly 1,000 times the natural rate, due to increased pollution, disease, land-use, and the impacts of climate change.
Although a large percentage of this environmental degradation is fueled by over-consumption and development in industrialized nations, the effects are felt hardest by communities in the developing world whose livelihoods are linked to natural resources. These resources are vital both for consumption and for income through forestry, fishing, agriculture, for example.
GENDER AND BIODIVERSITY
Women and men generally have different roles in the use and management of natural resources as a result of gender norms. Understanding these roles is a key to combating biodiversity loss and ensuring equitable access to limited and life-giving resources, especially in developing countries.
Gender differentiated responsibilities vary region to region, but in many communities around the world, women act as primary caretakers and natural resource managers – procuring water and firewood, managing waste and providing health care, often through plant-based medicines. Women’s activities are directly impacted by biodiversity loss, and the related impacts on women’s lives are in terms of health, safety, education are reinforcing unequal rights and access to decision-making.
Women’s roles also mean they hold vast knowledge on sources of water, storing and caring for seeds, and the diverse uses and benefits of plants, including for food, medicine, art, and avoiding and mitigating land degradation. This knowledge is crucial to preserving biodiversity, addressing climate change and supporting livelihoods.
WEDO IS CALLING FOR:
- Women’s equal rights and access to land and land tenure, including guarantee and protection of the rights of women and men who access land through a variety of group or individually-held tenure arrangements (e.g., use rights, rental agreements, etc.)
- A halt to land grabs: Conversion of land for large-scale and/or industrial agriculture, biofuels, or other development highly impacts women, while also advancing biodiversity loss and climate change.
- Countries to mainstream gender into their conservation agendas, National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPS), and implementation efforts.