Profiles for change: Amelia Arreguín, Women’s Caucus of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Among many priorities, Amelia is working to influence this critical year for environmental policymaking – including prioritizing attention and action on tackling gender-based violence (GBV) and environment links in global biodiversity policies.

Director of the environmental non-profit Eco Maxei Querétaro AC., Amelia Arreguín is a Mexican activist promoting women’s and girls’ human rights across the environment sector, including by serving as co-coordinator of the CBD Women’s Caucus and as regional coordinator of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network for Latin America and the Caribbean. Amelia is also a member of IUCN’s Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) and the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP).

Interested in learning more on GBV and biodiversity? See this briefing note from the Gender-Based Violence and Environment Linkages Center on linkages to inform the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework process here.

Advancing awareness and knowledge on gender and GBV links in biodiversity

From advocating against biodiversity loss and climate change to defending rights to water and territories, Amelia is raising awareness on the gender-differentiated impacts of biodiversity loss on women and girls, as well as the different roles they play in securing a healthy environment. One of the specific barriers to both realizing rights and biodiversity sustainability, however, is the lack of knowledge – and sometimes interest – on gender issues, including GBV, in relation to natural resources. These challenges contribute to the persistent invisibility of these issues in national and international priorities.

“There is a lack of awareness of the relationship between women and biodiversity… of the differentiated impacts of the biodiversity crisis in women’s daily lives, the work burden it entails – be it in rural or urban settings – mainly for grassroots women… [For example,] if we recognized the scale of the problem of violence against women in health and economic terms, which are indicators used by countries to determine priorities, so too would GBV be a priority [including in biodiversity linkages.]”

Framing gender-responsive biodiversity conservation that promotes and protects women

As the multilateral environmental agreement setting and framing global biodiversity policies, Parties and stakeholders of CBD have acknowledged gender issues for many years, adopting gender-sensitive and responsive decisions and forging Gender Plans of Action to support their implementation. This year, the CBD will adopt a post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF) as a stepping stone towards its 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature at its Conference of Parties (COP) this fall in Kunming, China. 

The CBD Women’s Caucus, along with allied country representatives and other observer organizations, are advocating for a gender-responsive framework complemented by an updated Gender Plan of Action. For the first time in the CBD’s history, a draft Gender Plan of Action includes a call for the elimination of GBV “in access to and conservation of biodiversity (including protecting women environmental human rights defenders)”.

“We have generated events, we have generated documents… in all the calls of the CBD, in all, we have participated, peer-reviewing documents, sending interventions… we have been in all meetings, whether it is 6am, 12pm or 12am; we are participating.”

As a young Latin American woman, Amelia has worked hard to overcome obstacles – she has transformed doubts about her ability to lead as a young activist into a voice that advances newer thinking that more intrinsically addresses the holistic and complex interlinkages between biodiversity and social issues, including women’s rights and GBV. Working through social networks and prioritizing peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, Amelia has participated in helping to build a movement of youth leaders to co-create these spaces of shared empowerment and influence. 

As the co-coordinator of the Women’s Caucus, Amelia has been engaged in many of the negotiations, consultations, and technical meetings, working with proactive women’s organisations who are committed to achieving gender-responsive post-2020 GBF decision-making processes. Amelia has high hopes that their efforts will help not only usher approval of the proposed Gender Plan of Action, but also have its priorities enshrined within the GBF itself. 

Amelia says she is pleased to see continuous growth in the participation and influence of women and women’s organizations in the CBD Women’s Caucus to help advance these goals. Together, their different, unique, and valued knowledge and expertise increasingly results in stronger, more concrete, technical and relevant proposals. She believes change is within reach.

“What inspires me to work for women and girls in [relation to] environmental issues is the belief that we can live in a different world, the belief that there can be a world in which all people [are] worth the same, in which all species [are] worth the same, one in which there is harmony and justice.”

Each quarter, through the GBV-ENV Center, we hear from a colleague working to address GBV in environment-related sectors and spheres in this Profiles for Change series. Click to see previous Profiles. You can connect with the Caucus and Amelia online: