Increasing female participation in conservancies, as decision-making committee members and staff, is one of the pillars of good governance. While the proportion of women elected as treasurers is approaching parity at 43%, only 13% of the chairpersons and 24% of conservancy staff are women. Developing and supporting woman leadership and participation therefore remains high on the agenda for the CBNRM programme.
In 2019, a group of 19 women from five conservancies in the Kunene Region were supported by IRDNC to establish their own association called Women for Conservation (WFC). The association has its own constitution and members who will discuss issues common among women living in conservancies and address these as a united group.
Their Vision statement reads: "Women of this association, United in One Voice, are guiding and supporting each other and all women in their communities and conservancies, making their voices heard and participating in discussions and decision- making especially related to conservation, so that all men, women and children in their areas are benefitting from wise and sustainable development."
Their objectives include strengthening women’s voices, encouraging their participation in development, playing a stronger role in sharing knowledge and training, and bringing sustainable development to their communities through their respective conservancies. Their principles exhort members to "work openly, cooperatively and respectfully with each other", "not discriminate because of tribe, religion or education level", and "be committed to work hard and to volunteer their time and energy to the Objectives of the WFC."
The establishment of Women for Conservation is another stride towards gender balance and women empowerment within the CBNRM programme, which will have a positive impact on Namibian rural communities at large. These women are leading the way for others to amplify their voices and actively participate in programmes that affect them as mothers, daughters and pillars of their societies.