Gender is now an official pillar of our work

By: Lilly Briggs
March 7, 2024

In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), I am excited to announce that Gender is now an official pillar of Finca Cántaros Environmental Association’s work, along with Forest Restoration and Birds. We use these three themes as the main lenses through which to create diverse environmental education (EE) experiences for the community, as EE is at the core of everything we do.

The longest-standing EE initiative of the organization is the Women Committed to the Earth (Mujeres Comprometidas con la Tierra) program. It was launched in September 2020, just a few months after I founded the organization. The pandemic had us all feeling destabilized and uncertain about the future, and in-person EE had to be conducted with much caution and planning. While the program was originally only open to young women aged 13-18, as word spread about our different environmentally oriented activities occurring in a safe, outdoor outlet, we started to hear from women of all ages that they wanted to participate, too. Given that FCEA aims to respond to community needs, we listened to these many voices and opened the space to all. During the most intense periods of the pandemic, we heard from the women that attending the program was a therapeutic experience during which they could truly take time for themselves to connect, learn and laugh.

Over the past few years the Women’s program has evolved in countless amazing ways. We now work on environmental art projects under the leadership of a talented local artist, Karla Esquivel, creating murals and bringing otherwise plain tables and posts to life with representations of the colourful and fascinating species around us. We take walks through the property to learn not just about birds but about other wildlife, by documenting and identifying them through the application iNaturalist, under the guidance of our iNat expert team member, Alisson Vargas. We have launched a women’s tree nursery (named Bellota in honour of the Spanish name for an oak’s acorn), that is part of the Network of Community Tree Nurseries led by Rocío Seisdedos through her conservation organization Soy Conservación.

As we move forward, FCEA is committed to creating additional spaces to help women tap into their own power and take down barriers to entry in different fields connected to conservation. In 2022, FCEA ran a pilot program called Women Leaders for Nature (Lideresas por la Naturaleza), which was a structured, in-depth course requiring attendance in each session rather than the open and flexible format of the weekly Women’s program. During 2024 FCEA will be planning and seeking funding to develop a Lideresas por la Naturaleza 2.0 program, focused primarily on restoration practice.

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