Life is hard for rural women in Nepal. Many live in remote, rugged areas with poor access to social services, and their days are filled with a lot of manual work including collecting firewood, fodder and water, farming, and other household duties. They and their families depend on forests for natural resources and to reduce the risk of floods and landslides. But sometimes—due to lack of alternative opportunities to make a living—local communities overuse or destroy forests. And though we’ve seen improved management of community forests in recent decades, women are often not included in community decision-making processes about their forests even though they rely on forest resources. This is particularly so for women from marginalized and poor households.
WWF and its many partners work with government and local communities to help improve lives and restore forests as part of overall strategies to conserve large-scale landscapes and wildlife in Nepal. We’re empowering women to participate in local decision-making processes and stand up for their rights to forest resources and the benefits they provide. We’re also introducing clean energy approaches to reduce the time women spend collecting firewood and ease the pressure on forests. Such approaches include biogas (gas produced from raw materials such as agricultural waste and manure), solar power, small hydropower plants, and fuel-efficient cook stoves.
WWF is also helping women adapt to climate change. For example, in places where water sources are dwindling because of changing rainfall patterns, we’re improving water supplies to reduce the amount of time and labor expended to collect water. With the time and energy they save, women can focus more on childcare, start small enterprises to earn a living of their own, and manage their forests.
All of this improves lives and conserves nature—and women are strong custodians of their local forests.