This week, over 60 women from across Latin America and the Caribbean are gathered for two days in Lima, Peru, for the “Encounter of Women in Conservation”. This event brings together women from governmental organizations, indigenous and rural communities, NGOs, and the private sector. Among them are members of the Rainforest Partnership team in Peru.

The goal of the event is to obtain an agenda for women in conservation in Latin America and the Caribbean. At the end of the encounter, a “declaratory” will be worked on for this agenda that will be presented during the 3rd Congress of Protected Areas in Latin America and in the upcoming World Conservation Congress.

We began the meeting by sharing the underlying motivations that drove the organization of the event in the first place: women are more vulnerable to distressing situations. Women are more likely to be in a situation of extreme poverty than men, they lack power to make decisions over the lands they exist in (only 15% of landowners are women), they lack resources to affect change (men are at least two times more likely to be the “bread-winners” in households), and even though they represent 50% of the world’s population, women are much less likely to hold positions of leadership (less than a third of positions of power in academia are held by women).

In most Latin American countries poverty has decreased while gender inequality has increased across the social, political, economic, and environmental levels. The issues of climate crisis and a loss of biodiversity have a greater impact on traditionally vulnerable groups of people. They are magnified by an economic model based on the extraction of natural resources and by the patriarchy, while crimes against nature (e.g. deforestation, wildlife trafficking, etc.) and a massive increase in violence against women play an important role in how countries are preparing to address the pressing climate crisis.

Creating an agenda to address gender issues alongside climate issues aids in untangling a very complex and multifaceted challenge. Only by acknowledging the need for an explicit agenda of women in conservation can we begin to work on an integrated approach towards nature conservation.

Rainforest Partnership is an organization led by strong women and is committed to promoting equality, ensuring safety, and empowering women.