Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (WOCAN) is a women-led international membership network of women and men professionals that provides expertise to assist agriculture and natural resource management organizations strengthen women’s leadership and mainstream gender into their internal structures, programs, projects and policies.
WOCAN was established in 2004 with the objective to address three major gaps that emerge from the knowledge and experiences of sustainable and rural development processes. These are:
- policies regarding gender within the agriculture and natural resource management sectors,
- roles of professional women in implementing policy objectives for rural women’s empowerment and gender equality within these sectors, and
- organizational barriers that obstruct women from realizing positions of leadership and influence to take on such roles.
It is our vision that organizations engaged in agriculture and natural resource management fully recognize and support the roles and leadership of women farmers, environmental managers, professionals and decision makers, leading to an equal distribution of responsibilities, rights, benefits and power between women and men in management of natural resources to achieve sustainable development and poverty alleviation.
Our mission is to build the leadership of women in agriculture and natural resource management for organizational transformation for gender equality through an innovative approach of partnering with motivated professional and rural women. WOCAN's global network of members provides skills in agriculture and natural resource management technologies, gender mainstreaming, organizational change, negotiation, policy and decision-making, participation, advocacy and women's leadership to secure women's equal access to and control of resources and benefits to improve the livelihoods of rural people.
Our Guiding Principles
Environmental sustainability and poverty eradication requires organizations at all levels to fully recognize and support the roles and leadership potential of women as farmers, market actors, environmental managers, professionals, decision makers, and leaders to achieve an equal distribution of responsibilities, benefits, and decision making between women and men in the management of natural resources.
WOCAN aims to demonstrate five core Leadership Practices that it considers fundamental to women’s leadership development. These are:
- Model the way (find your voice, set the example)
- Inspire a shared vision (envision the future, enlist others)
- Challenge the process (search for opportunities, experiment and take risks)
- Enable others to act (foster collaboration, strengthen others)
- Encourage the heart (recognize contributions, celebrate values and victories)
It is by applying these principles in its work with individuals – both men and women – and with organizations around the world, ranging from local to international that WOCAN will:
- Work strategically and collaboratively, to support women professionals to assist their organizations become more gender sensitive.
- Provide capacity building through training and professional opportunities so women professionals in agriculture and natural resource management sectors become effective “change agents” for gender equality.
- Focus on networking, partnerships and alliance building, so women will be influence the policies and practices of organizations working at the policy, research, planning and implementation levels in agriculture and natural resource management.
- Creating visible fora for women’s voices to be heard within international agencies and global processes concerned with food security, natural resource management and climate change.
- Encourage the commitment and support of men so that the vision and mission of WOCAN can be achieved.
- Practice teamwork, open communication, trust, awareness, and reflection, and a culture of mutual support.
WOCAN's objective is to contribute to processes of organizational change, or the institutionalization of gender perspectives in NRM-related organizations by supporting women to act as facilitators of change by:
- Supporting women through (a) confidence building, (b) leadership and communication training, (c) sponsorship to participate in organized events, and (d) promotion of research, activities and best practices oriented toward rural women.
- Advocating for causes related to gender equality and natural resource management at local, national, regional and international levels.
- Promoting partnerships at different levels of the society to address the goals of this network.
- Providing financial assistance and supporting activities directly in line with the first three objectives of the network.
The following 20 minute video describes WOCAN's approach to organizational transformation for gender equality by linking rural women to professional women to build synergistic partnerships for empowerment, food security and poverty alleviation through its project in Nepal.