In many parts of the developing world, women of all ages play a critical role in managing natural resources, which they rely on for food, water, medicine and fuel wood for their families. Yet they often are excluded from participating in community decisions about resource use.
WWF addresses this issue by helping women in developing countries gain better access to education, health care 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.
In developing countries of Africa and Asia, WWF supports educational scholarships for girls, offers training in livelihoods, and provides micro-financing assistance. Young girls in developing nations often do not continue with their education past primary school. WWF provides basic education for underprivileged girls, while engaging them in environmental activities and lessons that teach them the importance of conservation.
Girls who participated in WWF programs have become community and conservation leaders. Some have continued on to college and technical institutes where they have become teachers and health care professionals. They experience greater independence, actively promote conservation ideals, and serve as female role models throughout their communities.
WWF and its partners provide health services – such as improved drinking water, sanitation, family planning and reproductive health – to people in remote communities. This is part of an approach referred to as “Population, Health and the Environment.” We use this approach because more than 90 percent of population growth in coming years will be concentrated in the poorest developing countries, where increasingly, nature’s supply is unable to meet growing local and global demand. The result is the declining health of people and environments.
WWF’s work focuses on reducing the environmental impacts of high per-capita consumption in the developed world, while also working with local communities in developing countries to improve livelihoods and health, and reduce population pressures on nature. We also work to reduce the adverse environmental impacts of migration, improve food security and nutrition, and promote new livelihood activities. Other work includes: • mapping population trends in priority places to target our efforts more effectively • working with partners to reach more remote communities with poor access to health services • creating a manual for conservation practitioners on integrating health and family planning into conservation projects • developing approaches to reduce the impacts of migration on biodiversity