Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma.

Right in time for this year’s International Women’s Day, three women from RSPB Cymru update us on their current work. We also find out their views on diversity and inclusion in the conservation sector - the theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge.

Tove Hubbard, RSPB Cymru Head of Engagement

My official job title is Head of Engagement for RSPB Cymru. My role is focused on connecting and empowering people to take action for nature in Wales, whether that’s connecting children and families with nature as part of our education programmes, working alongside our 600-strong team of volunteers or thinking about how we can work with and support communities in Wales.

 At the moment, I’m really loving working with a range of organisations across Wales to develop our ideas for a ‘National Nature Service’. In a nutshell we’re thinking about how we could provide opportunities for young people and those at risk of long-term unemployment to secure paid jobs that help to restore nature as well as building their skills and future employability. This would help to support a Green Recovery in Wales, one that stimulates economic recovery but also helps to tackle the nature and climate crisis.

I’m a big believer that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’! When I joined RSPB Cymru in 2016, I was hugely inspired by the fact that I could see women in a range of management and leadership roles across the RSPB. As a cis-gender, lesbian, middle class, white woman, I have held a lot of privilege in my career journey and my experiences in the conservation sector have generally been very positive – I’ve definitely benefited from those amazing women who have already smashed through barriers and ‘left doors open’ for those following behind! However, there is a huge amount that we still need to do to make the RSPB a truly equal, diverse and inclusive organisation – for example, the environmental profession is the second least racially diverse profession in the UK after farming. I’m really inspired by the ‘Choose to Challenge’ theme of International Women’s Day 2021 – I want to commit to calling out gender bias and inequity where I still see it and take tangible steps to dismantle existing biases and systemic discrimination towards marginalised groups, ensuring that every person in Wales gets the same opportunities to access and connect with nature.  

Siân Stacey, Project Development Officer for the Summit to Sea project

I’m currently the Project Development Officer for the Summit to Sea project in mid Wales. This is a really exciting project which is co-designing a future where nature and people thrive in the area. By using co-design principles we’re going beyond traditional consultation by building and deepening equal collaboration between people affected by, or attempting to, resolve a challenge, such as the biodiversity and climate crisis. It’s a great opportunity to work with a really wide range of people passionate about our futures. 

I have had a pretty varied career so far which has been on the fringes of the environmental and conservation sector until I started this job a year and a half ago. I was the Warden on Bardsey Island for the Bardsey Island Trust for three years, which was a role that had previously been held by men or couples. This was all about maintaining the buildings and island infrastructure, along with welcoming guests to the island each week during the season. I loved the opportunity to learn new skills like fixing slipped slates, re-glazing windows, managing compost toilets, or installing new water tanks. But I certainly had a few people in my time who were surprised to see me with a drill/spirit level or plunger in hand between jobs.

I think historically there haven’t been enough role models which inspire us that reflect ourselves as women. But it feels like the tide is turning and I’m constantly inspired by some amazing women in farming and conservation like Teleri Fielden (the Snowdonia Shepherdess), Katie Hastings (involved in Seed Sovereignty and Mach Maethlon), and Ffion Storer-Jones. But we need to be improving our diversity and inclusion, so we need faces, both male, female and non-binary, along with the whole range of ethnicities that accurately reflect our diverse society. We need to build networks to support one another as we come together to tackle the biggest challenges of our, and future generations!

Tabea Wilkes, RSPB Cymru Nature Policy Officer

I’m currently leading on our work on Green Recovery in Wales. We work with decision makers in government and the Welsh Senedd to make sure that their response to the pandemic will also become the start to tackling the climate and nature crisis in earnest.

I’ve always really admired the work of Wangarĩ Maathai who founded of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. This was an environmental NGO focused on environmental conservation and women’s rights, which became quite influential across the world. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work on sustainable development, and she was the first African women to win this!

On one hand, the conservation sector does very well in supporting flexible working and a work life balance, which does help make the sector more inclusive for women. I actually think a lot of other sectors could probably learn a lot from the conservation sector. But you can definitely still see a gender divide within the sector as well. Traditionally, on-the-ground conservation has been quite male dominated and a lot of our expertise in land and species management still seems to be men. So we are definitely starting to break down barriers, and we are even starting to see this in leadership positions. But we need to make sure that this continues to happen across all of the areas we work in.

The theme for International Women's Day this year is #ChooseToChallenge. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. For further info click here.

To hear more from some of the women working for the RSPB from across the UK, watch this Notes on Nature TV International Women’s Day special episode: