‘Recognise women’s effort in tackling wildlife trade’

Gender gaps obfuscate understanding of real-world illegal wildlife trade activities & appropriate intervention 

Gender-blind approaches to tackling illegal international wildlife trade is impeding eradication of the malpractice, experts highlighted at the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) being held in Panama from November 14-25, 2022. 

Women often do not receive a fair and equitable share of the trade in wild species, despite putting in a lot of time and effort in it, the draft decision prepared by the CITES Secretariat on November 21, 2022 flagged. Such oversight deepens inequality and discrimination, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and extreme poverty as well as further entrenching gender inequality, it added.

This creates significant gaps in understanding real-world illegal wildlife trade activities, processes and opportunities for intervention, the draft noted. 

Read more: CITES COP19: India’s freshwater turtle in danger of extinction

Mainstreaming of gender is, thus, important for the conservation of species, the authors mentioned. Overcoming gender-gaps in policies and benefit-sharing can lead to reducing poverty through the promotion of economic and decision-making freedom, they added.

Women, an integral part of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, continue to be neglected in policy-making processes, the draft highlighted. 

Considering these factors in policy- and decision-making can improve the success of conservation of species, along with improving living conditions and governance, the experts said. It can also reduce conflict and social inequalities as well as end gender-based violence, they added.

The CITES Secretariat urged countries to understand how gender interacts with factors related to legal and illegal trade of wild species of plants and animals and take them into account while designing interventions. 

Read more: Effective enforcement of laws, traceability needed for trade in European eels: COP19 draft decision

More gender-specific indicators should be included in data collection and planning, it recommended. This will make monitoring and research related to the trade in wild species more gender-aware and responsive.

Countries have also been advised to enhance the representation and participation of people of all genders, especially women of all age groups through community engagement, professional opportunities, employment in this field and policy development. There should also be more women in official delegations, the Secretariat requested. 

It called for capacity-building opportunities for women in CITES authorities and meetings. 

The Secretariat will also work towards including the needs, skills and perspectives of indigenous communities and all genders in the trade of wild species. 

It will also enhance women leadership, ensure they get equal access to, ownership of and control over the use of wild flora and fauna as well as engage in international trade, while receiving a fair share of profits and other benefits. 

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