For over three decades, the Coastal Resources Center (CRC) at the University of Rhode Island has worked with partners to advance coastal stewardship worldwide. The core of this work has always been the underlying principles of empowerment, equity and sustainable development. CRC recognizes that the challenge of achieving sustainable coastal resource use, conserving biodiversity, and enhancing the quality of life of coastal people is made much more difficult by the reality of rapidly expanding coastal populations and the lack of equity for certain segments of the population, especially women.
CRC’s Women in Leadership Development (WILD) initiative began in 2001. Initial activities included a “Mainstreaming Gender, Population and Leadership into Coastal Management Programs” workshop. This event brought together a diverse group of academics, scientists, field practitioners, advocates, and donors with a common interest in the challenges of and solutions for better mainstreaming gender and population considerations into coastal programs and vice versa. Generating enthusiasm and interest, the results of this workshop were presented at international conferences as well as in peer-reviewed coastal and marine management journals. The experience gained through the first phase of WILD activities inspired CRC to embark on a larger follow-on project to mainstream demographics and gender issues in ICM.
The second phase of the WILD initiative, primarily funded by the Packard Foundation and USAID, began in December 2002 and ended in December 2004. CRC invited representatives from eight ICM initiatives in Mexico, Indonesia, Fiji, Tanzania, Kenya, and the Philippines to take part in a learning network aiming to test various tools to mainstream gender and demographics. The second phase of WILD had two overarching objectives. 1) Population and gender equity issues are routinely being considered at all stages – i.e. at the design, implementation, and evaluation stages – of participating coastal and marine conservation programs and 2) Incorporate knowledge, tools, experience and lessons learned on how to integrate gender equity and population change considerations into the design and implementation of coastal and marine conservation program, and disseminate them among an active network of coastal practitioners; gender, population, and environment specialists; major NGOs; and selected members of the donor community