Happy International Women’s Day!

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Women VHCTs living around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Women and girls are driving change and progress around the world. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to shine a light and encourage women to #BreakTheBias in a male-dominated world to achieve their dreams.

This International Women’s Day, I appreciate the opportunity of working with many amazing women through our work at Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) and Gorilla Conservation Coffee in conserving the endangered mountain gorillas and other wildlife  and improving the health and livelihoods of people living around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

I have also had the opportunity to work with many inspiring women in Women for the Environment – Africa leadership council that is advocating for and mentoring women leadership in conservation, and Women in Primatology and International Women in Coffee that are promoting gender equality in these male dominated fields.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.”

“When I started working as the first wildlife vet at Uganda Wildlife Authority in 1996, I realised that there were very few women in senior positions and no female rangers! This made me more determined to mentor more women and girls to break the bias”.

Over the past 20 years this has changed, and today I am happy to share with you a video that Uganda Wildlife Authority  has made appreciating the female rangers working at the frontlines across Uganda.

It is through the work at CTPH and Gorilla Conservation Coffee that I saw the necessity of involving more women in conservation efforts. Women in communities like Bwindi live in a traditionally male dominated environment. One of our main goals is engaging more women Village Health and Conservation Teams (VHCTs) and coffee farmers in trainings and activities so that they are able to take up leadership roles in their communities, elevate their status, and support improved gender balance. With support from Planet Women, we recently trained 115 women VHCTs and 130 women coffee farmers around the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park on building entrepreneurship skills, commercial agriculture, and their central role in conservation of the mountain gorillas.

Engaging more women in these communities has led to improved reception and implementation of conservation efforts through family health and wellbeing, family planning, nutrition and hygiene.

Woman coffee farmer in a nursery bed near Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Photo by Emily de Moor

#BreakTheBias Campaign

Striking the #BreakTheBias pose with Oliviah, Sharize and Esther of African Wildlife Foundation (AWF)

I am delighted to share the International Women’s Day #BreakTheBias campaign by African CSOs Biodiversity Alliance that highlights the extraordinary stories of diverse African women across male-dominated, climate-focused spaces, taking up roles as leaders, policy-makers, educators, experts, innovators, designers, activists in conservation and fighting climate change across multiple industries.

International Women’s Day Webinar

Join us today for an International Women’s Day webinar hosted by Planet Women at 8:00 PM EAT, titled “Deep Roots, Strong Branches: Women on the Frontlines of Forest Protection” – where I will be on the panel discussing the importance of involving women in leadership and conservation. Register here to join the conversation https://onetreeplanted.org/pages/workshops

In celebration of International Women’s Day, I am honored to receive recognition from the Republic of Women Awards – the highest IWD independent honor in UN countries – the Emmeline Pankhurst Lifetime Achievement Award.

Thank you all so much for your support. Let us continue encouraging and empowering women to break barriers to achieve a society with gender equality.

Happy International Women’s Day 2022!

Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka
Founder and CEO, CTPH

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