Future of Africa’s Conservation and Sustainable Development depends on Women Empowerment.
Promoting women’s active participation in environmental conservation could be one of the much needed key drivers for achieving sustainable development in Africa.
Despite the fact that women are very knowledgeable on utilization of natural resources, especially forest products, they have been sidelined in policy making on matters of forest conservation - most decisions are made by men.
Further, their leadership in community associations is seen as 'tokenism. Ecofeminists believe that patriarchal societies exploit both nature and women according to the same male-centered framework.
It is without a doubt that environmental changes impacts on women and men different. However, because of long-standing inequalities that silence women’s voices and neglect their needs, particularly poor women, they are extremely impacted by the gradually longer droughts, more severe storms and flooding, soil degradation, biodiversity species depletion, deforestation and other negative environmental challenges.
According to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the development of new relationships between nations, communities, initiatives, human groups and natural resources, should be based on co responsibility, justice and equity. Gender equity and equality, in particular, are essential elements of any action to ensure the conservation of biological diversity.
Resilience of households and communities depends prominently on the women resilience. Recognizing and addressing both women’s and men’s needs, as well as promoting women as key decision-makers are decisive elements to ensuring the sustainability of the environmental policy, programming and planning.
Therefore, for the continent to go a long way in realizing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Sub-Saharan Africa should adopt gender equalities in communities and societies, suggesting that this will enable open up new environmental solutions.
Given the requisite tools and support, women are a major driving force for new, more equitable and sustainable models for development. Empowered women are more vibrant in conservation and shaping biodiversity.