As a young woman in conservation, sometimes I find it challenging to be bold. Conservation, other than being seen as a white narrative is also often seen as male-oriented. Many are the times you will be questioned whether you can go long days without getting to be with your family, if you have one, or whether you can be able to endure the challenges of weather and rough terrain that come with working in the field or doing rigorous research work.
I have come to learn and appreciate that women are strong. We can hike mountains, climb rocks, endure the most horrific weather conditions and still be able to make sure everything is in line in our family and friendship circles.
They say, ‘you can’t have everything you want’. But I say, you can have everything you want in life although not all at the same time. If you believe, everything always aligns to your path. As a woman, you don’t have to be boxed into everyone’s idea of how your life should be. You don’t have to believe in people’s fears about your life. You don’t have to follow the rat race. You just have to be the best you can be. There is no other you.
As we mark International Women’s Day, our guest post shares her experience in conservation, especially as a young woman.
In late 2018, I attended the Global Youth Biodiversity Network Workshop. As many other workshops, to be able to participate there were some basic requirements required to attend it. I was lucky to have met the minimum qualification. Even though I had applied as a last minute kind of a thing. Until this workshop, I had not known whether it was my business to know about the Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on Biological Diversity. In my mind, I thought I was doing what I can to conserve at least one species. On the other hand, I saw it as an opportunity to really learn something new and why I should be involved.
I was grateful to find out that I was not alone and clueless in these crucial subjects. At a glance, what we basically learnt was on what the word biodiversity really means to each individual depending on the country we come from. The workshop was quite practical oriented as we did exercises to express the same. It was then, after understanding what biodiversity is, we unanimously agreed that we were living in a crisis which had to be tackled. Apart from the areas of policymaking, advocacy and the different actions each individual was going to take in biodiversity conservation, there was one session on wildlife experience that I loved the most. This was the women in conservation session.
As a young mother, I felt inspired by the experiences that were shared during the session on the different challenges that females who pursue male-dominated fields have to go through. From harassment to being perceived as those meant to be in the office at the desk doing some front office work and not field work. Sometimes you are even perceived as a ‘flower girl.’ As a woman, one would choose not to compete with men or compete at all, but be aware that it is going to be harder than going for an ordinary stereotyped “woman job”.
From the whole experience session, I learnt;
It was actually fun to learn that after the triumphant educational achievements these women have achieved despite the different challenges faced, the came out stronger. Stronger than they thought they were. They are seen as role models to many other ladies who are following the conservation career path.
After the workshop session, I was sure that I too will make an impact in the conservation arena. Well, it could take a bit longer than expected but I definitely can do it.
By Francisca Kasuku
Francisca is a passionate, enthusiastic, energetic young lady whose heart is in wildlife conservation and educating anyone who will listen on the importance of wildlife. She loves tree growing and wants to be the next and even bigger Wangari Maathai. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
“To the young women finding their feet in life’s journey, I say, FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS.”