One of the world’s biodiversity hotspot, the North East region (NER) of India, is bountifully endowed with rich minerals, forest wealth, wildlife, water resources, agro-biodiversity and rich traditional knowledge systems. However, the region is challenged with erratic climate variations, shrinking common resources including livelihoods, food and nutritional insecurities, and rising inequalities due to biodiversity destruction, human induced development, invasive technology and profit maximization. In this context, there is a growing threat to the NER’s unique ecosystem and the survival of communities living within it where particularly women’s vulnerabilities are increasing. NEN believes that conservation in isolation without community’s support is impractical. An optimal balance is sought between the practice of conservation and sustainable livelihood which endorses environment and cultural rights.
NEN works on four components:
1. Women’s role and participation is fundamental in the processes of Natural Resource Management and its governance. Women in rural communities have in depth knowledge, practices and understanding of the natural environment which remains unaccounted and invisible. NEN therefore works towards strengthening women’s role and amplify their voices in influencing policies at the community, state and global platforms on issues of environment, climate change, biodiversity, sustainable livelihoods, food and farming. These strategies are used to advocate for women’s participation in all decision making processes.
2. Collectivising and organising of women is another component where NEN addresses collective activism for stronger articulation of economic, social and cultural rights. In Nagaland, NEN has been engaging with women workers (agricultural producers, street vendors, home based workers) in raising collective consciousness on livelihood rights. Diverse skill based knowledge is imparted to the women workers to enhance their livelihoods and strengthen women agency networks.
3. NEN is committed to raising environmental consciousness and its protection amongst the local community particularly the young people by adopting innovative strategies. NEN in Nagaland strongly believes that building young catalysts in the community is the keystone of sustainability. Nature Conservation Education programme of NEN facilitates intergenerational learning and reconnects young people with nature.
4. NEN strongly upholds the significant role of indigenous communities in safeguarding and nurturing agrobiodiversity, agroecological practices, food and cultural identity. The biodiversity and food festivals, exchange learning programmes, community film screenings and discussions, exhibitions, trainings, networking, policy recommendations and advocacy efforts significantly enabled local communities’ voices and stories to be heard. Such initiatives also strengthened solidarity amongst farming communities within and beyond the region.