Lessons learned in incorporating women into fire management brigades.

One of the greatest challenges in the rural context of Mexico has been the inclusion of women in various productive, training and governance activities, which allows them an active participation for decision-making about the management of the natural resources of their communities.

One of these activities is protection against forest fires, and the knowledge about fire management at the community level is essential to prevent and fight forest fires. This is a major cause of deforestation and forest degradation nationally and globally.

Taking into account the importance of this issue, the “Fire Management Planning Project in the Selva El Ocote Biosphere Reserve, supported by the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature (FMCN), has designed and developed both technical and social actions that allow the proper use of fire in agricultural systems of this Reserve and the protection of forest areas.

In order to integrate women into these activities, it is essential to train the communities on gender perspective. These allow the generation of tools and practices that contribute to the mainstream of community interests and provide equal spaces for participation.

In the execution of this proposal, there were several challenges. One of the greatest limitations for the participation of women was the availability of time, due to the activities they carry out in their households. It was possible to integrate into the work of the community brigades, training and equipment, 4 women, who expressed their interest in learning about the topic and to have an opportunity for a future remuneration for this work.

Two of the participants are mothers, who had the support of their relatives, to have the time necessary to participate. The other two participants are single women, who showed interest in participating, after learning about the experience of family members who had already participated in other activities related environmental topics, which aroused their interest in participating.

The importance of the inclusion of women in fire management activities lies in generating a community recognition of the capacities of women to carry out other activities, different from what they commonly carry out. The surveillance tours provided the opportunity for the participating women to learn about the distribution of natural resources in their communities.

This experience opened the door for their participation in decision-making spaces at the community level. Currently, the project has a woman as its operational technician, who acts as a link between the project and the communities.

Karla Villareal, a participant in the Project, presents her testimony in the following video, click for subtitles.

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