Team Lioness - KenyaWe're transforming what it means to be a woman ranger
At IFAW, we recognise the unique challenges faced by women, and we work to make their voices heard in conservation. UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #5 calls to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls. The targets include eliminating violence against women, recognizing and valuing unpaid care and domestic work and ensuring women have equal access to decision-making, public life and resources. Though it might not be obvious, all of these targets are closely connected to conservation.
Wildlife rangelands often overlap with rural areas, where women providing for their families tend to interact with wildlife more than men. Actions like collecting water, harvesting crops and collecting firewood for cooking put women at greater risk of dangerous encounters with animals like elephants, buffaloes, crocodiles and hippos.
Danger aside, however, these experiences also mean women have more opportunities to observe and learn from animal patterns and behaviors. That knowledge is critical when it comes to solving conservation dilemmas. As primary caregivers at home and in their communities, women are also uniquely positioned to share their deep knowledge of local wildlife.
The future of conservation needs local women in leadership positions. When women have opportunities for education and professions, their economic livelihoods improve, their communities thrive and human-wildlife conflict plummets.
Here are some of the ways we are supporting women in Kenya:
Several members of Team Lioness are mothers. That’s why IFAW, in collaboration with the German-based Margarete-Breuer Stiftung (MBS) Foundation, has constructed a nursery where babies of Team Lioness members are cared for during the working day, giving the women peace of mind that their children are safe as they go about their daily work duties.
At IFAW, we engage with the people living closest to the animals and habitats that we strive to protect. We aim to ensure positive and sustained change. We believe that protecting critical habitats drives long-term benefits for both wildlife and people. By creating new alternative sources of income that generate stability and leadership, women in Kenya are helping their communities create peaceful coexistence with wildlife.