Celebrating women in Conservation
National Women’s Day draws attention to the challenges African women still face, but also the ever increasing opportunities for them to empower themselves.
In South Africa, the month of August (Women’s Month) acknowledges these challenges and celebrates the many achievements of women in South Africa. It encourages others to learn from how those who came before them and how they overcame the limitations they encountered. Women now have louder and more powerful voices, playing a necessary role in highlighting many issues, including environmental degradation, women and child abuse, unequal pay, lack of good education for their children, and many more.
During Women’s Month, the EWT is paying homage to women in the conservation space who are doing their bit to save species, conserve habitats, and benefit people.
Meet these amazing women here and on social media under #EWTWomanCrushWednesday.
The historic role of women in the EWT
Clive Walker, Founder and Former Director of the EWT
In 1975, I took a group of eight women on a walking trail in the Mashatu Game Reserve in northeastern Botswana. They had told their husbands they were off to the bush for five days, and their husbands had to take care of their kids whilst they were away on ‘trail’. Among them were Wendy Farrant, whose husband was an EWT trustee, and her friend Joy Cowan. Both husbands were accountants who made up a number of the professionals who made up the board of directors. The very first afternoon, we encountered on foot some 100 elephants standing in the dry Shashe river bed that borders Zimbabwe. One can only imagine the experiences that were to follow over the next four days. On the last night around our campfire, a number asked what could they do to help the EWT as they had become so fired up by their experiences, and my response was why don’t we form a ‘ladies’ committee’, and after discussing it with the board, we did just that. The committee consisted of Wendy Farrant, Jill Morrison, Felicity Street, Joy Cowan, Maureen McCall, Jenny Doak, and Conita Walker. As volunteers, they contributed 100s of hours in administration work, ran all the fundraising functions, organised three symposiums and various workshops during my tenure and became the flag bearers of the Trust’s work. I must commend my secretary, the late Petra Mengal, who ran the zoo office, and my PA, Jane Zimmerman, who were the only two permanently employed staff and were a tower of strength to the organisation.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Ladies Committee, formed in 1975. As volunteers, they contributed hundreds of hours in administrative work, ran all the fundraising functions, organised three symposiums and various workshops, and became the flag bearers of the Trust.
Ladies accompanying Clive Walker on a wilderness trail in the Mashatu Game Reserve in northeastern Botswana in 1975.