Posted on 04.07.2023 | Tag: Capacity and Governance

Conservation is a male dominated sector, and in Vietnam most mid-level and senior positions are held by expatriate or Vietnamese men. Research demonstrates that female scientists are more likely to resign than women in other professions, especially when they work in an unfair, unsafe working environment Conservation work as a whole is diminished when it is absent the insights, experiences, and perspectives that women conservationists provide.

As a professional organisation, WildAct cannot encourage women to participate in biodiversity conservation if the working environment is unsafe for them. Therefore, our “Empowering Women in Conservation” was created to build a safer working environment, not only for women but all conservationists in Vietnam. Through a series of workshop and activities funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) RISE Challenge; we aims to provide knowledge to identify, response and prevent sexual harassment at an organizational level; as well as encouraging conservationists to discuss and contribute idea to create a better world of work.

Following our first workshop for employees in wildlife conservation sector in April, 2021; our second workshop ““Gender-based violence in the wildlife conservation sector” workshop – A call for an equitable world of work” was hosted online, with collaboration from Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender - Family - Women and Adolescents (CSAGA), funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) RISE Challenge. The workshop attracted 30 leaders and managers, from 10 different provinces in Vietnam, representing 18 organisations and government agencies in wildlife conservation. The workshop helps participants to identify, response and prevent GBV and sexual harassment; as well as create an open environment where participants can discuss solutions to reduce GBV and sexual harassment in the workplace. WildAct also introduced our  “Focal Contact Points” network models and the Wildlife conservationists for a better world of work network. We aim to create a sustainable network where conservationists can support each others, no matter which organisations or agencies they belong to

At this meetings, leaders agreed that reducing GBV and sexual harassment is extremely important aspect. It will increase employee's mental health, as well as maximise conservation efforts. In addition, when organisations and agencies commit to build a safe working environment, their reputations amongst their own employees, as well as amongst the conservation network will increase. Through the discussion sections, we encourage participants to contribute ideas to create a process that is fits with organisation’s structures, to investigate and solve sexual harassment reports at work. As a result, different progresses were created by different groups of organisations (NGO, government agency and research institution). At the end of the workshop, 43% participants signed up to pilot our “Safety Guidelines and Code of Conduct to prevent sexual harassment at workplace”; and 64% participants expressed their interest in developing and maintaining our “Focal Contact Points” model. This also a result that employees who participated in the April workshop hoped for. 

Agencies and organizations that not yet establish a specific regulations, policies or measures to address GBV and sexual harassment in the workplace should take action to put such policies in place as soon as possible. We should not, in any way, avoid the problem or simply sweep it under the carpet. We hope that conservation agencies and organizations in Vietnam will join forces with us to create a better, safer and equity working environment for all employees. 

If you want to learn more about our Empowering Women in Conservation Program, or if you wish to donate to us, please contact: