Biodiversity conservation and women

BIJOYINEE SARMA

The strongest action for women is to love, be herself, and shine amongst those who never believed she could!! -Anonymous

In many countries, women are expected to be keepers of the home, a worldview that overlooks the role of women as leaders in any field. Not every woman can have a say in their family matters nor can put their voice in decision making. Women are not always seen to be involved in the workforce equally despite having eligibility or more qualifications and experience. But the times are certainly developing, and so is our society.

Today, women are rising in every field, divulging their capabilities and contributing to every field they are engaged with. In the field of Biodiversity Conservation, women play an integral role, with new generations adopting conservation as a career; countless females have come up globally to contribute and to bring about a positive change. What inspire us most are the sacrifice, passion, dedication, and commitment, they put towards their work, and how all these are helping the women in changing the age-old perception prevailing in our society. Many women conservation leaders are setting such examples and motivating the new generation to take up conservation as a profession. 

But, in the field of Biodiversity Conservation, women are not fighting the conventional battle. Here, the women are being divided and categorized and they are treated differentially.  

The women, who tirelessly work in the field, staying in the midst of forest away from the urban luxuries with just the basic necessities, are generally recognized and appreciated for their commitments and dedication. But, there are women who are working off-field and have been providing all the basic but crucial support in the conservation work is often left unnoticed. Yes, those unsung heroes in the field of conservation are the women who work vigorously round the clock in the office and support those staff members working in the field. They set an example of ultimate dedication and sacrifice too like that of their counterparts working in the field. The office tasks are as important as the tasks performed in the field except for a few risk factors involved. These mostly include administrative, accounting, publicity, and lab-related works. As they often perform their tasks indoors, people can hardly get notice of what they actually do. From providing access to all the necessary resources, data, information, accountability to all the materials needed in the field are taken care of by mostly the women staff holding such positions in the office. 

In the conservation field, the women who are in the field are often the ones who get mostly highlighted and highly valued. But, the women staff, who work off the field, do not get their due respect and recognition, face ill-treatment, despite being highly qualified and experienced. 

Many of them come with experience of extensive fieldwork, highest qualifications, and much knowledge. It’s their dedication and love for nature for which they chose to work in the field of conservation, regardless of the low & unequal remunerations they get. 

Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.– Margaret Thatcher

They take care of the smallest of the things around the organization from arranging any conference/ programs to looking after all the logistics. Besides these, they also visit field offices as and when required and multitasks in the organization. While field workers concentrate on their particular fieldwork and data analysis, indoor workers manage every division of the organizations they work in where their natural management skills are involved too. These women affect change in their homes and villages daily and are vital to the success of conservation initiatives. In the field of conservation, both on-field and off-field staff must act as a single and united family, and each and every one of the family needs to be appreciated and rewarded equally. It’s high time we break conventional thinking and be more open in recognizing everybody’s contribution equally to have a more sustainable conservation outcome.

It has always been challenging to be a woman and to always fight for the things women rightfully deserve. Being empowered is still a challenge in this modern world despite there is a strong discourse pertaining to women’s rights and equality. It’s still a matter of great despair that society has to celebrate Women’s Day to remind themselves about their existence and importance. Society asks for more validation to realize, appreciate women’s efforts, and contribute to society. But women themselves need to be more supportive of each other in order to set themselves as an example.

Biodiversity conservation is a noble field of work. People must look into this delicate but much important aspect such as unequal treatment to the women staff despite the equal effort they put in. Needless to say, women who opt-out to work in the field must be appreciated but simultaneously those staff, especially the women, who equally put their honest efforts, need to be appreciated and acknowledged as well in the field of biodiversity conservation.