Biological diversity, or 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 affects are felt hardest by communities in the developing world whose livelihoods are linked to natural resources. These resources are vital both for consumption and income through forestry, fishing, agriculture, etc.

Gender and Biodiversity
Women and men undertake different roles in the use and management of natural resources to combat biodiversity loss and ensure equitable access to these resources, especially in developing countries. Although gender differentiated responsibilities vary region to region, in most communities in the developing world, women act as primary caretakers and natural resource managers. For example:

• Women often take the leading role in household /community management by controlling consumption patterns, collecting firewood for fuel and cooking, managing household waste, and providing healthcare through traditional medicines.
• Females in developing countries on average carry 20 litres of water per day over 6 km.
• Women control as much as 60-80% of the world’s food production and play a huge role in both water management and forestry. However, in some countries, women have few legal rights to land and globally women own less than 2% of the world’s titled land.

The gendered nature of resource management coupled with an unequal access to rights in certain countries leaves many women particularly vulnerable to the affects of biodiversity loss. As forests are depleted and fresh water supply exhausted, it is women and young girls who travel farther each day to collect firewood and water for their communities. Having to devote more time to water collection and travelling longer distances, means that girls may be unable to attend school and often puts women at greater risk for sexual harassment.

Significantly though, these gendered roles have provided women with vital technical and traditional knowledge on managing natural resources, particularly in terms of preservation and innovation. For example, women’s work in agriculture lends them a vast understanding of crop and seed varietals and in turn how to adapt their food production to changes in weather patterns and food supply. Without women’s full participation in decision making we cannot hope to develop the solutions and innovations necessary to combat biodiversity loss.

Further information on this can be found in WEDO’s Factsheet on Gender and Biodiversity.

The Latest Biodiversity News


Oslo REDDX Conference: Can REDD+ support transformative change for gender equality?

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

OSLO (October 30, 2013) - More than 450 experts were gathered in Norway on October 29-30 for the Oslo REDD Exchange Conference, to discuss the constraints to and opportunities for successful establishment and implementation of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries). REDD+ has been on the international policy arena for 6 years, but there are still many challenges to overcome before it becomes truly effective.

One such challenge is …

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Women celebrate after making Sorghum Pilau-a dish made with Sorghum

Women Fight for Food Security as they Conserve Biodiversity: Mwingi, Kenya, CASE STUDY

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

by: Floridah Kagendo, WEDO CBD COP11 Representative/ Crop Development Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya

Over many generations, women have been charged with the responsibility of feeding their families with nutritionally rich and balanced foods. Nature has dutifully provided these foods, but over time, the production has been declining. Women collect firewood in the forests, draw water from streams whose source is the forest and rely heavily on the same forests to provide food for their …

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A Compilation of CBD Gender Equality Decision Text

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

HYDERABAD, INDIA (October 9, 2012)–In preparation for this COP, WEDO and the CBD Secretariat compiled the gender-responsive language from all agreements in the history of the CBD,  Gender Equality and the Convention on Biological Diversity: A Compilation of Decision Text.  From preamble and shared vision text, to actionable language for programming and finance, the policy language in the Convention on Biological Diversity has recognized that the integration of women’s rights and …

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United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD)- COP11, Hyderabad, India

Monday, October 8th, 2012

[ October 8, 2012 to October 19, 2012. ]

The eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) will be held in Hyderabad, India, from 8 to 19 October 2012.

COP 11 will include a high-level ministerial segment organized by the host country in consultation with the Secretariat and the Bureau. The high‑level segment will take place from 17 to 19 October 2012.

This meeting will take place during the United Nations Decade on

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Pushing for Action on Gender Equality and Biological Diversity

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

HYDERABAD, INDIA (October 6, 2012)—From October 8th to October 19th 2012, WEDO is thrilled to bring together an international team of advocates at the eleventh meeting of the Conferences of Parties to  the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad, India.

With support from the CBD Secretariat, thirteen women experts in biodiversity, conservation and gender equality from 10 countries – India, Nepal, Nigeria, Kenya, Colombia, Costa Rica, Suriname, the Philippines, and the U.S. – …

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