From my experience throughout a year and a half with the “Strengthening of the Regional Strategy for Fire Management with Inclusion of Gender Perspective Project”, operated in the Ocote Jungle Biosphere Reserve, I can share that the topic of forest fires has not been sufficiently developed to include the participation of women, whether it is in trainings, coordination or fire fighting. That is why, at the beginning of this project, it was a great challenge for me to integrate with the work of the communities, since it involved coordinating with community brigades, conformed entirely by men.
Why do I say it was a challenge? First, because I am a young person, who had no experience in fire fighting and who is also a woman, this was a difficulty in building trust among the brigades. The work that had been done with the communities in previous years, had been through men, and for the first time, by including a woman, it was a great impact for the brigades and for the communities.
Men were used to other men, for directing and coordinating. However, I gave myself to the task of gaining the trust of the brigades, I gave my best to find a way in which they could feel confident, regardless of my age, or my sex. A very important factor in achieving this, was the women participating in the workshops, because they felt very identified with me. For me that meant a lot, because not only they gave me a place, but also they, like me, were looking for a space to contribute with ideas and learn more about the subject.
The workshops at the end, allowed us to integrate into a space, which, as I mentioned, it was practically masculine. We work in activities such as: awareness workshops on gender perspective, weeks of prevention, clearings, firebreaks, fuel loads and management of forest fuels. This does not mean that my work and the participation of women are already recognized by the communities, but it is a step that allows us as women, to learn more about other topics.