Women protectors of the kalaw

March 26, 2022

The kalaw or Northern Rufous Hornbill is known to flock with other kalaws in communal roosts. They are one of 10 hornbill species found in the Philippines, and one of 8 that are threatened. They can be found in the Southern Sierra Madre, in a special patch of forest designated as a protected area in 1977 called PP 1636.

What can also be found there are the women-led communities of KALIPI (Kalipunan ng Liping PIlipina) and KUMARE (Kilos Unlad ng Mamamayan ng Real, Inc.). Women leaders from both organizations are now working with the Haribon Foundation through the Enhancing the Role of Women in Protected Area Governance for Social Change (Women Go) project, funded by the European Union.  

According to the UN, protected areas are more likely to be set by governments with more female representation. One study by Christina Ergas and Richard York in 2012 shows that countries where women have higher political status also enjoy lower carbon emissions per capita. The authors suggest that efforts to improve gender equality may also work to “curtail climate change and environmental degradation.”

Through Women Go, KALIPI and KUMARE are “protecting two birds with one seed.” By taking the lead in protected area management, they are improving gender equality in local governance of these forests and curbing climate change for their children at the same time.

In an effort to protect its nest, the female kalaw encloses itself inside a tree with its brood. It stays with this next generation of kalaw, fending off predators and feeding the young food that is brought by the male kalaw. Perhaps it can be said that the kalaw’s instinct to protect its home is shared among the women of PP 1636.

“Tiyak nauunlad at mapapangalagaan ng maayos ang ating kalikasan kung makikilahok tayong mga kababaihan,” (Surely our environment can be developed and taken care of properly if we women participate) shared Ginalyn Ocampo, member of KALIPI, Real during one of the Women Go trainings on Biodiversity-friendly enterprises.

The theme for Women’s Month 2022 is “We Make Change Work for Women.” However the women of KALIPI, KUMARE, and protected area PP 1636 are working to make change work for their communities, the kalaw, and all of us affected by climate change.

In reaction to one of the Women Go trainings, Aylene Fabula of KUMARE also shared, “Mas na empower na ang kababaihan. Maganda na pareho na nag aaral ang mga kalalakihan at kababaihan ng ganito,” (Women are more empowered. It is good that both men and women are learning like this.”