Champions of Mother Earth

African People & Wildlife
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In many parts of Africa, rural and indigenous women possess a unique understanding of the natural resources all around them. Though they depend on a healthy environment to survive and thrive, these women are rarely asked to participate in conservation decisions and programs that impact their lives.

APW believes that women are uniquely skilled and positioned to be drivers of social and environmental change. By elevating women as conservation champions and helping them build their livelihoods, self-confidence, and knowledge, we create a remarkable ripple effect that benefits communities, economies, and ecosystems.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re sharing six stories about female leaders from our community and team who have unleashed their potential and ignited lasting change—thriving together with wildlife.

In the past, I would sit in the shade of my hut waiting for my husband to provide. But now I no longer have to wait on him.


Nasinyari's Story: A New Path for a Brighter Future

When Nasinyari joined APW's Women's Beekeeping Initiative, she discovered powerful knowledge and a new path in life. With the sustainable income stream she now earns from selling Mama Asali—APW's brand of wildlife-friendly honey—Nasinyari sends her children to school, pays for her family's health care, and looks forward to a brighter future.

After I received training, I was able to empower my fellow women and train them as well.


Helena's Story: The Cycle of Empowerment

Helena understands the power of uplifting her fellow women. As the leader of a local women's group and a member of the Women's Beekeeping Initiative, Helena trains other aspiring female entrepreneurs in her community to run nature-friendly businesses. Together, they are transcending their traditional roles while protecting the natural world they treasure. "In addition to gaining entrepreneurial skills, we have learned about the environment and all the ways that beekeeping protects the trees and the land," she says. "Now, this knowledge is spreading throughout the community."

Yamat's Story: A Role Model for Gender Equality in Conservation

As a young girl, Yamat feared the lions that sometimes attacked her family's livestock. Today, as the monitoring and evaluation officer for APW, she educates her community about the value of coexisting with lions and helps to reduce human-wildlife conflict. The only female conservationist from her community, Yamat is blazing a trail for others and shifting local perceptions about the role women can play as leaders and decision-makers. "Women have many good ideas about environmental protection and can bring their effort and knowledge to the field. Conservation is not just for men—it's for everyone," she says.

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Namayan's Story: The Changing Face of Conservation

In the Tanzanian community of Selela, Nayaman stands out as a woman working to preserve local rangelands—a traditionally male-dominated activity. One of three women on her local 13–person grazing committee, Namayan makes decisions such as where and when community members can graze their livestock and which areas should be set aside for dry season grazing. Proud to be a female conservationist, Namayan also makes and sells fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly cookstoves and participates in tree planting campaigns.

Catherine's Story: Breaking Through the Barriers of Discrimination

Catherine knows all too well the barriers that Black African women must overcome to achieve careers in conservation. In a powerful blog post, Catherine shares her experiences with various types of discrimination, explains why the conservation field is in dire need of more women who look like her, and urges other women to follow in her footsteps. Astounded by the positive changes other female conservationists are making in their lives and communities, Catherine knows firsthand the impact that one woman can make. "Imagine if thousands more African women out there decided that they wanted to pursue a life in conservation," she says. "How much more change could we create?"

Mama Tony's Story: A Tradition to Empower

Just a few short years ago, Mama Tony never imagined she could become an entrepreneur. Today, as a member of the Women’s Beekeeping Initiative, she earns a sustainable income, helps to support her family, and discovers new opportunities and skills—all while giving back to Mother Earth. “Women have always been left behind,” she says. “But now, I can contribute to my family and see it grow!” Read more about how one beehive opened up a whole new world for Mama Tony.

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Erika Piñeros/African People & Wildlife