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Women and conservation

Every day, all over the world, women make countless choices that affect the environment.

Himba women

It's often women who decide how communities should use resources, including:

  • water for cooking, washing and cleaning
  • land for agriculture
  • wood for heating and cooking
  • plants and animals for food and sale

What we're doing
We recognise the different roles women and men play in managing natural resources. We work with both groups to improve the way they look after the environment and find opportunities to improve their livelihoods.

Members of the Kalpana Women's Group at Mohanpur, near Royal Bardia National Park, Nepal

Our successful women’s programmes include:

  • small business development
  • access to health services such as family planning and maternal and child health
  • efficient and sustainable agriculture techniques
  • literacy programmes

Gender briefings

These briefing notes have been developed to increase understanding and awareness around the importance of gender analysis in natural resource management programmes.

The briefings, include summaries from case studies around the world, looking at lessons and experiences from integrating gender perspectives to a lesser or greater extent in programmes. The format is deliberately succinct and not too technical to enable the reader to access an initial understanding of natural resource-gender dynamics.

Natural resource management and gender

Natural resource management is about finding sustainable forests and fisheries. It recognises that people rely on these resources for their livelihoods – and also that people are critical in maintaining them.

Climate change and gender

Climate change is increasingly recognised as a major issue for humankind. The impact will be most severe for the world’s poorest communities. Women comprise 70% of those living below the poverty line and so are most likely to bear the heaviest burdens of climate change.

Fisheries management and gender

The majority of fishers and fish farmers are poor, small-scale fishers. Their poverty encompasses more than just income: it includes lack of land ownership, high degrees of indebtedness, poor access to health, education and financial capital, and political and geographical marginalisation. It is women who are often most vulnerable and bear the brunt of these constraints and challenges.

Forest management and gender

Sustainable forest management is the environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of forests for present and future generations. Although women mostly don’t own land, they often use forest resources for subsistence, as safety nets, and even to generate modest incomes.

Water resource management and gender

Integrated water resources management is a process that aims to ensure water, land and its related resources are used sustainably. There are significant differences between the way men and women access and manage water. Addressing gender acknowledges these differences and seeks to ensure that the contributions of both men and women are recognised.

Women, members of a WWF supported project, on a plantation in Mambele, East province, Cameroon

Gender briefings

Natural resource management and the importance of gender

Climate adaptation and gender

Fisheries management and gender

Forest management and gender

Water resource management and gender

Gender in Conservation Report June 2014