Forestería en las tierras secas

Five key outputs from WeCaN’s first Global Gathering


The WeCaN initiative held its first Global Gathering from 24 - 26 May, bringing together 20 members from across the world to meet in person for the first time. The workshop had one main aim: validating the WeCaN advocacy strategy and setting out a path for action over the next four years.

The workshop was a chance to ensure that the advocacy strategy, and WeCaN’s work going forwards, was truly representative of member’s needs across the dryland regions. Under the excellent guidance of Lorena Aguilar, Executive Director of the Kaschak Institute for Social Justice for Women and Girls, members reviewed all steps and elements of the advocacy strategy in small groups to ensure their comments and priorities were reflected.

So, what are the key outcomes from this meeting - and what will be WeCaN’s priorities going forward?

1 – More WeCaN events to scale up South-South knowledge sharing between members

Over the three-day workshop we heard that women across the world face the same challenges. We saw firsthand how a community of women who exchange knowledge and solutions between Southern countries can work together to find solutions, boosting women’s voices, representation and rights globally.  As part of this, members were keen to develop more products and events to strengthen the community’s knowledge sharing opportunities. Members suggested several documents, including a negotiation ‘how-to guide’ with advice from WeCaN CoP veterans to help members who will be attending their first CoP or advocacy events. Members also advocated for a newsletter and more regular meetings to share case studies and knowledge in an informal environment. 

2 – Land tenure and dryland restoration are key!

Members voiced the necessity of strengthening women’s land rights, which will have a positive effect on dryland restoration and biodiversity. So far, WeCaN’s key priorities have been strengthening communications and negotiations skills to enable women to advocate for improved rights and participation. These skills now need to be utilised to advocate for increased land rights, which are key to improving women’s quality of life. The WeCaN advocacy plan will therefore include biodiversity and land rights specifically in its outcomes and aims, and focus on member participation in the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2024 Conference of the Parties.

3 –  Acknowledging  indigenous communities, youth and women in all their diversity

Members voiced the need to heighten the focus on indigenous communities in our advocacy strategy. Jane Meriwas, a member from an indigenous group in Kenya, pointed out that indigenous communities are often not mentioned in UN meeting documents, something that must be challenged to improve representation and participation of indigenous communities, and particularly indigenous women. WeCaN needs to set an example in this area, and the strategy will now refer to indigenous communities specifically where  relevant. Members also advocated for an intersectional approach, taking into account the diverse backgrounds of women and girls and the causes of discrimination.

4 – Improve outreach and communication with media, religious institutions and gender focal points at all levels

A key step going forward will be to improve WeCaN’s outreach and communication in various areas. Members highlighted the importance of engaging further with local media to advocate for women’s rights and challenge traditional community perceptions of women. Engaging with religious leaders and traditional authorities was also discussed as an important way of challenging social norms. Lastly, members cited the need to identify and target gender focal points at local, national and regional levels, including country focal points in FAO. Strategically increasing outreach will increase awareness and ultimately boost women’s participation in decision-making processes.

5 – Women are stronger together!

Last but not least, the best outcome from the workshop was seeing so many of our WeCaN members working together to build a better future for women and girls.  It was a real inspiration to hear the case studies and stories of so many of our members, and include their invaluable experience and opinions in the advocacy strategy.   

“There is nothing stronger than the power of women coming together to have their voices, dreams, and needs heard,” said Lorena Aguilar, the workshop’s facilitator. “I was honoured to be part of a historical moment when WeCaN members defined their first advocacy strategy. The strategy is a call for action, a call to ensure that no one is left behind, and a call to ensure that women in drylands are recognized as agents of change”.

The meeting strengthened connections between members and boosted WeCaN’s community spirit. The event even concluded with a dance taught by Mailes Zulu from Zambia about looking to the future, which got everyone involved – a great way to end the event on a high! 

After our first Global Gathering, WeCaN is more convinced than ever that -  in the words of one of our members, Faouzia: - “Together, We Can.”


Related links

-       Event photos: FAO Forestry Flickr

-       Website: WeCaN

-       Website: FAO South-South and Triangular Cooperation


(c) FAO/Roberto Cenciarelli