© Tanya Petersen/WWF
Gender and conservation

Gender equality

In many parts of the developing world, women of all ages play a critical role in managing natural resources.

Yet women often are excluded from participating in community decision and policy-making regarding natural resource use.Taking into account the different roles and responsibilities of men and women is critical to the sustainable management of natural resources as well as the success of natural resource management (NRM) policies and programmes.


Gender and conservation work

Natural resource management programmes may affect women and men differently due to their rights, roles and responsibilities. The unique roles men and women play in their communities leads to different bodies of knowledge about the environments around them. Due to their roles gathering resources like wood, water and forest products, not to mention subsistence agriculture, women have a unique understanding of the natural resources around them. However, if women are not specifically included in the design of policies and programmes this knowledge can be lost. Increasing women’s participation in decision-making will ensure greater success and sustainability of projects while properly safeguarding natural resources and enhancing the shared benefits of their careful use.

WWF addresses this issue by helping women in developing countries gain better access to education, health care, decision-making bodies and sustainable livelihoods. Doing so helps ensure that the voices, skills and knowledge of women are incorporated into discussions and decision-making related to conservation in their families and communities.


Gender in the WWF Network

WWF adopted its Gender Policy in April 2011 to drive stronger integration of a gender perspective in both its conservation work and its internal operations. We aim to mainstream gender equality and women's empowerment in our global network. That means striving to understand the different needs and capacities of both women and men in a workplace, actively working to redress inequalities, and making the most of what gender diversity can bring to WWF operations and conservation work.

We also adopt strong gender criteria in our Prince Bernhard Scholarships for Nature Conservation and WWF Youth Volunteer & Internship Programme.

How do we work?

Read more about our work focusing on empowering women and safeguarding their rights for more effective conservation and sustainable human development.

Empower women and improve health, WWF US

► WWF and Barefoot College: training elderly women in solar power, Madagascar/India

► The Terai Arc Landscape Project - Women's groups, Nepal

Our Policy

Read our Statement of Principles.

Woman scientist working on assessing the carbon of ground biomass. IRD laboratory, Antananarivo. Madagascar.

© Olivier van Bogaert/WWF

A female engineer against a background of wind turbines.

© Istockphoto.com / WWF-Canada

Gender Briefings

Community planning. Mafia Island, Tanzania. 
© Jason Rubens / WWF

The briefing notes available below have been developed by WWF UK to increase understanding and awareness around the importance of gender analysis in natural resource management programmes.