Women and biodiversity

TitleWomen and biodiversity
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsBadri, B, Badri, A
JournalDevelopment: Journal of the Society for International Development (English Edition)
Date Published1994
Keywordsbiodiversity; Sudan; women's groups

Balghis and Amna Badri discuss the important of biodiversity in understanding women's role in sustainable livelihoods using the example of Sudan.
The analysis of the links between women's issues and biodiversity identifies the following needs:

  1. documentation of women's knowledge, skills, and interventions in the interaction with the environment and satisfaction of survival needs;
  2. more research on how women develop skills and knowledge in dealing with survival needs;
  3. training of professional women in these fields and gender sensitizing of men;
  4. key leaders with knowledge about women's contributions to development;
  5. respecting women for their thoughtful contribution of knowledge and creative options;
  6. establishing a library resource of women's knowledge; and
  7. rewriting the biodiversity convention to account for rural population concerns.

Women's contribution to development engenders love for nature, life sustainability mechanisms, diversified skills, knowledge, and creativity. Biodiversity fulfills the basic needs of 40% of the world economy and 80% of the needs of the poor. Development has exacerbated poverty over the years, and women's groups must direct attention to policy, research, and actions which take into account women's issues. The example of Sudan exemplifies how women creatively use and depend upon ecological zones in deserts and savannahs for survival. Sudanese women invented over the past 2000 years 90 different fermented foods and drinks from grains and grew sorghum and millet to make 30 different food products. Creative ways to use dairy, vegetable, and fish products have been developed. Other uses were developed for frogs, locusts, cow urine, and tree products. Wild foods have been found to be nutritious, to cure medical problems, and to create cosmetics. Women's role in food production has been marginalized due to women's lack of power and low status in society and male researchers and policy makers ignorance of women's needs. A gender-focused policy and action plan would engender a grassroots and women's participatory approach to conserving biodiversity, small-scale programs that focus on women's needs, large-scale programs, if at all, that recognize women's needs, and poverty alleviation and food security conventions. Women in industrialized countries could learn more about ways to reduce consumption and to rely on healthier and indigenous methods which may be antithetical to multinational industries.