The Women and Gender Programme (WGP) is one of the four programmes that constitute the department of Livelihoods and Economic Development at ERuDeF. It seeks to empower women, girls and youths via institutional strengthening, economic literacy & empowerment and education. Within this goal, the WGP specifically wants to women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors in and around protected areas and having them at the forefront in order to improve the quality of life of these women, their families and those of their communities at large.
The programme intends to uncover the role of empowering women and achieving gender equality in the sustainable development of protected areas. Giving that women are highly affected by environmental problems, and less emphasis is given to their participation in protecting the environment, the WGP dares to come up with some solutions to their plight.
Through research, the organisation discovered that, despite greater recognition of women’s importance in forest-related activities, they still have unequal rights over forest resources, representation in relevant decision-making bodies, and access to credit. The Women and Gender Programme thinks that empowering women and young girls in the forest sector can create opportunities and benefits for households and communities.
In addition, the programme under its partner, The Centre for the Advancement of Women’s Initiatives (CAWI), also found out that many youths are falling into poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and becoming HIV positive. Because of these, CAWI has taken the firm commitment to address youth issues as well, with emphasis on the young girls and widows. Having as motto ‘Empowering Women and Girls for a Brighter Future’ CAWI more than ever wants to promote among other things, women’s economic empowerment, human rights of women and girls, their right to education and also health related issues.
The Women and Gender Programme through CAWI is determined to eliminate barriers standing on the way to women’s empowerment among women and girls living in and around protected areas. Some of the challenges include: sexual and gender-based violence, high prevalence of maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, child marriage, FGM, conflict and natural disasters. All these must be urgently addressed for women and girls to realise their development aspirations and become economically empowered.
Manager – Women and Gender Programme