WASHINGTON, March 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- To mark and recognize International Women's Day 2021, hundreds of participants, including representatives from the private sector, academia, government, conservation organizations, landowners, and many more, came together for a virtual event to inspire, empower, and build relationships as part of a celebration organized by the Women's Forest Congress (WFC). The more than 620 registrants came from every U.S. state and Puerto Rico, four Canadian provinces, 26 additional countries, and every continent except Antarctica.
The theme of International Women's Day this year is "Choose to Challenge." 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, and the Women's Forest Congress is doing its part to change the way we view and approach forests and forestry.
Attendees came together to learn about the Women's Forest Congress's recent efforts and what is ahead, be inspired by the work and leadership of women in natural resources, and understand how we can support each other on International Women's Day and every day.
Dr. Antomia Farrell, Assistant Dean for Diversity at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, facilitated. She kicked things off on an upbeat note: "As we celebrate International Women's Day, let's celebrate the women who have shaped our country and the forest sector." She also challenged attendees to "…have at least one mentor and identify mentees to show them how to navigate through this thing called life."
The event featured updates from the steering committee and working groups, news on what to watch for in 2021, an announcement of the WFC Advisory Council, and the continuation of a strong networking community.
A keynote address from Paola Deda, the Director of the Forest, Land and Housing Division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), drew attention to the underrepresentation of women in forestry but offered an optimistic longer-term outlook and cited a recent Swedish study of forest ownership.
"These women see forests for what they are — not a bunch of trees that can be taken down and used to generate profit, but as part of a larger ecosystem that is worth much more to us and future generations when it thrives," Deda said.
The importance of leadership and networking was front and center in an interactive interview with Lynn Wilson, President of WinterTide LLC, a supply chain and forest sector consulting firm, on mentor-mentee relationships. Her theme, "The power of building relationships, networking and influencing outcomes," focused on several questions, including: What can we learn from each other? How do we move in multiple directions?
Wilson's advice included, "Get in the driver's seat of your career, your professional development, and your network. If you're waiting for someone to say, 'Wow, look at you. You're doing a great job at this.' I would turn that around and say, 'How are you asking for help and networking?'"
The inaugural in-person meeting of the Women's Forest Congress will likely be held in 2022, with virtual planning and engagement events like this being planned in the meantime. The Steering Committee wants your perspective, ideas, and guidance to ensure the Congress is a success. Learn more or email us, and join the conversation at Twitter (@WomensForestCng), Facebook (@womensforestcongress), and LinkedIn (@womens forest congress).
About the Women's Forest Congress The Women's Forest Congress is a forum to develop strategies and solutions for forests through a female lens. Women throughout the forest community have come together to share personal and professional experiences, connect with other women in the community, shape the latest innovations, and consider how actions informed by the female perspective can make a profound impact on the future of forests. Forests play an intrinsic role in our lives. Forest products touch us at all stages of life and are increasingly emphasized as a central tenet of a responsible, sustainable future. Forestry is essential to us all, yet the sector has less than 20% participation by women and even less by people of color. Learn more and get in touch — we want to hear from you.