wild voices blog

WiNN Nepal 2022: A Safe and Empowering Space for Women in Nature

ByFátima D. Gigante

Between 3-4 September 2022, over a hundred women gathered in Kathmandu, Nepal, for the celebration of the Women In Nature Network Global Networking Event 2022. The Women In Nature Network, also known as WiNN, aims to connect and empower women to achieve sustainable management and conservation of Earth’s natural resources. As part of WiNN’s efforts to develop a global community of women in order to create and support the future generation of environmental leaders, a conference is held every year with different countries taking turns to host it. This was the first face-to-face event since 2019 and was hosted by the brilliant and dedicated team of WiNN’s Nepal Chapter. 

This gathering brought together women working in conservation within Nepal, but also internationally. Diverse women coming from diverse career pathways went up on stage to discuss climate change or ecofeminism. Stories directly from the field were shared too, from women entering the nature guiding sector within Nepal’s national parks to women working for animal welfare, going through women making their own space in the hydropower sector. Not only that, but there was also space for women to get to know each other better through facilitated networking activities, to develop their own vision board for the coming times, or to learn about self-love and self-care practices. CoalitionWILD was also present at this event. 

Asmita Rawat is a Nepali forestry student that serves CoalitionWILD as a Steering Committee Member and Communications and Outreach Working Group member since 2021. She is usually working behind the scenes of the organization’s social media but can also be found hosting inspiring Instagram Live interviews with CoalitionWILD’s alumni. 

For her, this event “was something new I have never experienced before. I definitely had something new to learn from each individual I met, may it be about their countries, their backgrounds, or their stories. There always was a new element that everyone brought and shared with one another. Out of all the things that I learned, one thing that moved me was how difficult it is for women to make something out of themselves but through their willpower and continuous effort, we can make anything happen. I met exemplary women doing amazing work in their respective fields which reminded me of CoalitionWILD’s EXCELerator program alumni that I got to interact with, who are doing inspiring work in their community as well.” 

Asmita also shares that the event made her feel empowered and more confident in herself, because “seeing all those women from different age groups and different nationalities come together on a common platform to share their stories, hardships, and experiences. I truly understood the meaning of perseverance and resilience through real-life examples. That’s why events like this are important to encourage the feeling of empathy and understand the power of solidarity.

As a young woman from a country like Nepal, it was refreshing to see the involvement of women from such a diverse range of ages as well as geography. I feel like youth must attend such events to expand their knowledge, learn and improve. 

And I, Fátima D. Gigante, am a young Spanish environmental professional working as the Program Coordinator for CoalitionWILD. It was my first time participating in face-to-face events organized by WiNN too despite being a member of the network since 2020. 

Overwhelmed is definitely the word I would use to describe this experience. But in a good sense. Maybe amazed, astonished, marveling, or wondering would do better justice to how the event made me feel. It has probably been the first time that I have been able to connect with others genuinely in a conference, or big gathering context without feeling out of place, without feeling impostor syndrome. Everyone was so willing to share with an open heart, and the organizing team did such a great job in creating a welcoming and safe space. Getting to listen to so many diverse experiences from women, both in the field in Nepal, and internationally, made me feel that I was important, that what I do is relevant, and that although sometimes we feel like we are working alone on our own bubbles, there is a global community of women working in many places, facing multiple challenges, just like we do. This event made me feel part of something bigger. It was very energizing!”  

Furthermore, now I’m even more convinced of the importance of these kinds of events and of being supported by a community of like-minded people. The motto of the event, shared by Leeanne Alonso, co-founder of WiNN was “empowered women, empower women”. This resonated deeply with the work we are doing at CoalitionWILD, because I feel this applies to youth too, and that “empowered youth, empower youth too”. And, in the end, we are providing young environmental changemakers with the skills and confidence to speak up, and inspire others to do the same! Furthermore, we are also continuing towards creating a global community of youth at the frontlines of environmental and climate action. 

Being at the event, as a representative of CoalitionWILD, made me realize and feel on my skin the importance of the work we do and the urgency to provide platforms like this event for young people to exchange their experiences, form alliances and collaborations, and feel seen and heard.

One of the highlights of this event that should not go unnoticed is that Asmita and I, who have been working together for almost a year as part of CoalitionWILD, got the chance to meet in person.

When asked to summarize their experience in one sentence, Asmita shares that, for her, it was “a new experience filled with sharing, networking, and meeting new people”, while I would highlight that it was a gathering of women with converging missions, that believe in the power of their day to day work and actions, and that made us all feel we are creating a real impact. Which means that, although Asmita and I come from very different backgrounds, cultures, experiences, and contexts, we experienced the event very similarly, and both felt valued, strengthened, and supported in our personal and professional endeavors.  

In a nutshell, we believe there is an urgency to move away from doom and gloom narratives about the environment that creates paralysis within those working on the frontlines of conservation, and that it’s high time we start creating genuine and supportive communities of practice where projects that create positive change and impact on people and the planet, are uplifted and realized. 

Fátima D. Gigante would like to acknowledge and Re:wild, the Alice C. Tyler Trust, Animal Nepal and the Women In Nature Network for fully funding her participation in the WiNN Global Networking Event 2022. Asmita Rawat would also like to express her gratitude to CoalitionWILD and the WILD Foundation for sponsoring her attendance and participation in the event. 


Fátima D. Gigante

Program Coordinator

Fátima is passionate about participatory and community-based approaches to biodiversity conservation. She loves connecting people and facilitating the development of meaningful relationships. At CoalitionWILD, she is the person working ‘behind-the-scenes’ of the EXCELerator and Global Mentorship programs, following her keen interest in exploring community engagement and capacity-building strategies in the virtual space. Fátima has a multidisciplinary background, she is a biologist and has completed a Master’s degree in Forest and Nature Conservation from Wageningen University and Research. In the past, she has worked with local communities both in urban and rural areas on projects on human-wildlife coexistence, community forestry, and environmental education. At the present, she is looking forward to further developing herself professionally in the fields of facilitation, conflict management, and mediation, and experiential learning for reconnecting ourselves, as humans, to the natural world.

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