Assam in India has been witness to one of the most unique conservation success stories in the world, with the reversal of a species’ fortunes from being persecuted, to being revered as a national identity. The Greater Adjutant Conservation Initiative of Assam, India led by Dr. Purnima Devi Barman, Director, WiNN India, has now received another helping hand from New Zealand High Commission. The Commission had recently come forward to support the rural women’s efforts to save the endangered Hargila in Assam. This is one of the recent milestones the Hargila movement in Assam has been able to reach in recent months. Earlier this year, conservation activists from around the world had visited Assam to visit the Greater Adjutant habitat and attend Women In Nature Network's Global networking event that took place in Guwahati in January 2019.
With the NZ High Commission's support an awareness campaign to enable women to be the guardians of Hargila conservation was launched with an event on 27thJune 2019. During the day-long event, 280 women who comprise of the now globally acclaimed ‘HargilaArmy’ came together. The event was organized in collaboration with Kamrup District Administration, Kamrup Police, Assam Forest Department, Dadara Sarbajanin Sri Sri Saradiya Durga Puja Samitee and villagers of Dadara. DFO Chandan Bora, Rangiya Division and Daisy Gogoi, DSP, Rangiya graced the event and lauded the efforts of the Hargila Army and urged them to continue their conservation work and spoke about the key role women play in the society and in environmental conservation, respectively. Arpana Sarma, Circle officer attached to Hajo said that, “We read about women empowerment, but Hargila Army women are real life examples of it.” Chandradhar Das, Gaon Burha, Village head of Dadara delivered a very interesting speech on how rural women can become self -dependent and should establish their own identity. Renowned journalist Madhusudan Medhi discussed issues related to conservation and inspired the women to protect nature. Shankar Saikia, from Dadara, explained the influential position of women in Assamese society and their role in conservation. By next month, 80 sewing machines will be provided to the HargilaArmy members under the project supported by the New Zealand High Commission
Green Oscar winner Dr Purnima Devi Barman, wildlife Biologist, Aaranyak and Director of WiNN India, who leads the Greater Adjutant conservation initiative elaborated on her future plans for empowering the women and for Greater Adjutant conservation. She thanked the New Zealand High Commission and all supporters, well-wishers of this program and summoned all to move ahead with passion for conservation. Also present during the event were students from Assam Engineering College, Jalukbari along with Aaranyak staff members Kongseng Konwar, Bijoyinee Sharma and Firdausi Chaudhury.
Dr. Purnima Devi Barman was conferred the prestigious Whitley Awards also known as the Green Oscars in May, 2017 by Whitley Fund for Nature. On International Women’s Day March 8, 2018, Purnima Devi Barman was awarded the Nari Shakti Purashkar 2017 award which was conferred by the country’s president, Ram Nath Kovind, in New Delhi.
Watch some highlights from the 3rd Annual WiNN Symposium, which was held in Guyana in August 2018. Thank you to Margot McManus for all her work in putting this together! Watch it here: (link)
WiNN members Claudia Sobrevila and Leeanne Alonso contributed to the World Bank "Voices" blog with a piece on WiNN India 2019 and the history of WiNN as a network on the . Read it here:
Author: Tracy Melvin
With generous funding from the Alice C. Tyler Perpetual Trust, Aaranyak, Global Wildlife Conservation, and the International Finance Corporation, the Women in Nature Network (WiNN) hosted their fourth annual global networking event, “WiNN India 2019”.
From January 28th to February 2, 2019, 60 women from 12 different countries came together in Guwahati, Assam - situated south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys – a northeastern Indian treasure. Here, surrounded by success stories from a state that has conserved the one-horned Indian rhinoceros from near extinction and one of the last wild habitats for the Asian elephant, these women started building an international community of 21st-Century conservation practitioners. The event was held with the leadership of Purnima Devi Barman, WiNN partnered Aaranyak (www.aaranayak.org), a Guwahati based NGO, and with the Kamrup District Administration, Kamrup Police, and Assam Forest Department.
The conference was an immense success; participants felt mobilized and empowered as a sisterhood of conservation leaders, inspired through an intimate space for discussing our shared experiences, unique challenges, and collective hopes for the future of global conservation. The event centered around keystone messaging and field-based learning, including the amazing community women’s group organized by Purnima Barman, called the “Hargila Army” from Dadara, Pacharia, and Singimari villages - women who are saving the world’s rarest and Endangered species: the enormous 5-foot tall Greater Adjutant Stork, known locally as “Hargila” (“bone-eater”). Participants were honored to be a part of the Dadara Village Bird Rally with school children, the Hargila Army, and actual Hargila, circling above us.
The event also included prominent conservation speakers, panel discussions, four workshops, and a special visit from His Excellency, the Honorable Governor of Assam. The Sally Ride Conservation Symposium included four inspiring talks by women conservation leaders: Claudia Sobrevila, Program Manager for the Global Wildlife Program, World Bank, USA; Huyen Do, Gaia Nature Conservation, Vietnam; Shriparna Roy Saxena, Barkatullah University, Bhopal, India; and Dr. Oinam Sunanda Devi, Scientific Officer, Assam Biodiversity Board. Dr. Kashmira Kakati, wildlife biologist and activist; gave a riveting Keynote Presentation on the incredible diversity of life in Northeast India, and her equally incredible field experiences from over 20 years as a field biologist.
The Symposium also featured two panel discussions: “Creating women leaders in conservation” and “What emerging leaders need.” Workshops. Four workshops offered training for participants: 1) Community Conservation, by Purnima Devi Barman, India, 2) Beyond 3R: a way towards a zero waste life style in conservation, by Kanchana Weerakoon, Sri Lanka 3) Conservation Leadership by Jessica Deichmann and Leeanne Alonso, WiNN, and 4) Environment Education by María Susana Rocha Mier, Gente Sustentable A.C., Mexico. Intimate and powerful panel discussions included “Challenges and success stories from women in natural resource management”, and “Can women leaders have it all? Balance between work and personal life”. Lastly, a beautiful exchange of experiences included an early-morning, mist-laden community trip to Deepar Beel Wetland –a Ramsar Site frequented by wild elephants, 219 species of birds, and home to giant water lilies. We were also impressed by an evening presentation using puppetry as an environment education tool, with the performance of “How Green my world is…” by Drishana Kalita, and the talented women weavers of Dadara Village.
On World Wetland Day 2019, GROOTS Kenya received an award from the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Forestry and National Environment Management Authority in recognition of their work in spearheading community-led environment conservation and climate change resilience campaigns. GROOTS Kenya focuses on supporting the engagement of women in leadership and advocacy at the grassroots level. Congratulations on this fantastic work!
From August 2-4, 2018, 70 women will gather in north-eastern Guyana to connect and share their knowledge of nature and how to conserve it. Sponsored by the Women in Nature Network (WiNN), World Wildlife Fund Guianas, and Conservation International Guyana, the event’s theme is “Connecting through Community Conservation.” Women from indigenous communities in the hinterland of Guyana will join with women from Guyana’s government and NGOs, and women from seven other countries including India, Suriname, French Guiana, USA, Mexico, Chile, and Colombia.
This is a unique women-only event, designed so to provide an encouraging environment for open discourse among the women. Participants will explore how connections made during the event can empower them to do more toward conserving the natural resources of our planet.
The event features several prestigious speakers, including the Hon. Valerie Garrido Lowe, Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Guyana and Jennifer Morris, President of Conservation International. The agenda includes presentations, panel discussions, workshops and round-table discussions.
Anne Savage, Conservation Director for Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, FL and Ana Isabel Olivar Alvarez from ASOARTESANAS in Colombia will lead a workshop to make eco-mochilas. Thirteen years ago, a group of 15 women began to create eco-mochilas, beautiful tote bags crocheted from recycled plastic bags as a way to generate a sustainable income while also protecting the critically endangered cotton-top tamarin (monkey) found only in Colombia. Led by Ana Isabel, ASOARTESANAS has grown to more than 50 local women that are the mainstay of the program and they have trained more than 300 women in the techniques of creating eco-mochilas from recycled plastic bags from around the world. Under Ana’s leadership these women have successfully pulled their families out of extreme poverty and decreased their dependency on forest products allowing cotton-top tamarins to thrive in the region.
Most important are the social networking events to be held in the evening, where the women can make connections with other participants. New ideas, projects and opportunities are expected to come from these new connections. One evening will feature a “Conservation Fair and Marketplace” where participants can display their information about their conservation projects or research, or can sell natural products or handicrafts that they make in order to support their local conservation efforts. This evening is bound to showcase a wide variety of interesting products and projects.
WiNN will be posting stories, photos and video interviews on the WiNN website
(link) and WiNN Facebook page (link) during the event. We invite you to follow
us to hear about the exciting work of these amazing WiNN women.
For more information, please contact:
Margot McManus, WiNN communications intern, firstname.lastname@example.org
Leeanne Alonso, WiNN Founding member, email@example.com