“When more women work, economies grow,” says Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, a UN Women Executive. Off late, there has been an urgent call for greater gender equality, which has also implied a greater use of human capital as well as human development. However, human development has laid on women around the world who still face massive gender gap in employment and wages.
To support economic growth and development, the Environment and Rural Development (ERuDeF),is empowering communities with the necessary skills and tools to be self-reliant through alternative sources of livelihood. In carrying this initiative, women are giving leading roles in the economy transformed. What better moment to achieve this than now, when the world is pursuing another economic transformation, towards a green economy.
In fact, transforming women’s role in the economy could even bemore urgent in the context of protected area management. Traditional partition of responsibility means that men and women perform different activities within forest areas, particularly in developing countries like Cameroon. Because men are more likely to perform wage labour or farm cash crops like cocoa and coffee, women are more often responsible for growing of subsistence crops like NTFPs and taking care of their families.
For the fact that these women are directly involved in the welfare of their families, there is need to divert their attention from the forest and protected areas. ERuDeF has therefore, sought out alternative means of securing food locally. In doing this, more income will be generated to support their families in particular and the community in general. The challenges women face are intensified in areas where women already spend hours each day gathering NTFPs, travelling long distances, using head load as means of transportation and unstable market prices kills the little ambitions they have generated or nursed.
Against this background, it is therefore crucial to empower women through the women in Green Economy Initiative to be launched by ERuDeF which will valorise NTFPs through a value chain development process, in and around protected areas and in biodiversity hot spots in Cameroon.
Community action for biodiversity preservation with women as focus, intends to empower women on the domestication of NTFPs and other forest products, promote its commercialisation, develop a value chain process, setting up a processing unit and at the end, initiate a marketing process for these NTFPs.
‘Women in Green Economy’ therefore suggest that there should exist an environmentally-friendly economy, sensitive to the need of restoring and conserving natural resources through the full participation of women and young girls. The initiative Women in Green Economy is a concept, which simply offers hope to the women in relations to the environment.