Today – on International Women’s Day – we celebrate extraordinary women who are working to protect our planet.
Every day, women across the globe take on tasks both small and large to help the environment. At Nature and Culture International, we partner with communities and local women in Latin America to support their involvement in conservation, sustainable development, and decision-making.
A few of these women share their remarkable stories with us:
Project Coordinator at Nature and Culture
Born in Piura, Peru, Katty is a conservation biologist and senior staff member at Nature and Culture. For the past decade, she has devoted her life to the protection of the fragile Andean ecosystems in the regions of Piura and Cajamarca. Working hand-in-hand with local farmers, Katty has supported the creation of seven community and municipal protected areas that form the Andean Corridor of northern Peru.
Katty’s success in the region did not come easily. When starting her career, she experienced several challenges as a woman in the field. “On many occasions, I had to ask my male co-workers to accompany me to the first meeting with local authorities. This would facilitate my introduction, validate my professional credentials, and open doors for me,” recalls Katty.
Now, Katty empowers, inspires, and guides the way for other local women to stand up for conservation. She encourages participation in Nature and Culture’s conservation workshops and assemblies and the inclusion of women in community politics and the pursuit of higher education. Katty hopes “local women will play an increasingly important role in ecosystem conservation.”
President of the Seis Hermanos Community
Marcelina Angulo grew up in Seis Hermanos, a community located in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. She began pursuing a career in politics at the age of 18 – no easy endeavor at a time when women had no vote or say in decisions made in their community. In 2020, nearly 16 years later, Marcelina was elected as Seis Hermanos’ first female president!
In addition to being president of Seis Hermanos, Marcelina currently leads a committee that manages Alto Nanay-Pintuyacu-Chambira Conservation Area. Previously established with support from Nature and Culture, the area protects 2.4 million acres of Amazon rainforest in the region.
According to Marcelina, the participation of women in the protection and management of Alto Nanay-Pintuyacu-Chambira is essential. She finds that women prioritize the productive use of resources to guarantee the livelihoods of their families. “[Women] want a healthy forest and rivers, we want everything we conserve to benefit our growing children. That is why it is very important that women join [the management of] this conservation area,” she says.
Thanks to Marcelina’s efforts and inter-institutional coordination, the first official management plan of Alto Nanay-Pintuyacu-Chambira was recently approved!
President of the Association of Agricultural Producers of Chuquiribamba, Loja
Nancy is a defender of nature and culture in the Cordillera de Fierro Urco. Located in southern Ecuador, Fierro Urco is home to extraordinary biodiversity, including the recently discovered blue-throated hillstar hummingbird. The territory contains 336 lagoons and 36 rivers – critical water sources for more than 395,000 inhabitants of nearby provinces. These lagoons are also sacred places for the indigenous Saraguro people.
Despite its significance, Fierro Urco is threatened by reckless activities like mining. As a member of a management committee in the region and president of the Association of Agricultural Producers in her community, Nancy is leading efforts to defend this special place.
“It is up to us to take up the baton from our grandparents, to care for life as expressed in the water, soil, and seeds of this ancestral territory, Fierro Urco,” Nancy says.
With support from community members like Nancy, Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment and Water, and local institutions, Nature and Culture is working to legally protect over 173,000 acres in Fierro Urco as a Water Protection Area. Once declared, this area will ensure the protection of water sources and permanently prevent extractive activities like mining.
Country Director at Nature and Culture
Born and raised in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Lydia is Country Director of Nature and Culture – Mexico. For the past eight years, she has led the day-to-day operations of Nature and Culture’s Monte Mojino Reserve in Alamos, protecting Mexico’s northern tropical deciduous forest. Along with her team, Lydia has helped to conserve more than 128,000 acres of threatened forest!
Lydia and Nature and Culture staff members in Mexico (most of whom are women) are passionate about protecting the country’s natural and cultural diversity. They work hard to create a network of support for protected areas, engaging community members, researchers, students, and others in conservation efforts.
Lydia also teaches natural science at a school in her community, where she promotes self-confidence, knowledge, curiosity, and a connection to the natural world. She hopes to inspire young girls to follow in her footsteps and study biology.
According to Lydia, “If we want to make a strong and lasting impact, we must inspire the next generation of girls to continue with our mission of protecting the environment.”
These stories are inspiring examples of how women in the field overcome unique challenges, and of how female conservationists empower and engage others. We are grateful to our colleagues and partners for sharing their experiences with us! It is an honor to meet and work with strong and resilient women to protect our planet.