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Mozambican Social Incubator Spotlights Gender and Conservation In Southern Africa

The Wild Basil podcast, produced by Mozambican social incubator, MUVA (Associação do Empoderamento da Rapariga Mozambicana), is using the power of stories to increase awareness and understanding of conservation in southern Africa.

The podcast brings together eight environmentalists who have helped to shape the landscape of nature conservation in the region to share their stories in a series of compelling personal accounts. 

The podcast was launched in November to coincide with COP15, the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, to discuss urgent action to protect biodiversity and restore ecosystems.

Protecting and Preserving The Bush

The podcast tells the stories of eight conservationists and their work to protect and preserve the African bush and wildlife across Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa.

Luize Guimaraes, MUVA’s executive director, says the podcast focuses on extraordinary professionals who have been instrumental in transforming the conservation sector in Southern Africa over the last five decades.

“We took inspiration from the movie Hidden Figures to tell the stories of “figures” who have made a difference on the ground. These stories are inextricably linked to Southern Africa’s own story and give us an intimate new look at how conservation and the protection of biodiversity in the region have developed to truly become a matter of local pride,” says Luize.

The first episode of the eight-part podcast series introduces us to Anabela Rodrigues, who left her ballet lessons and secondary school to join the independence struggle in Mozambique.

Anabela was a soldier in the destaçamento feminine, a contingent of female freedom fighters, and then went on to become the first manager of the Niassa reserve after the country’s independence.

The series also includes episodes featuring South African Cathy Dreyer, the Head Ranger of the Kruger National Park, and Dr Moreangels Mbizah, a conservation biologist studying carnivores in Zimbabwe.

Opportunities For Women’s Economic Empowerment

The official launch of the podcast took place at a photography exhibition in Maputo, hosted by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and MUVA. The exhibition showcases both the works of AFD in biodiversity in Mozambique and photographs taken by participants in CONSIDER, a MUVA research project that works with conservation partners to empower women to identify how gendered social norms can influence their involvement in biodiversity conservation.

“MUVA has always tried to be creative, push boundaries, and look for new solutions to women’s economic empowerment that has not been considered before. Gender and biodiversity have traditionally been two worlds that have never mixed. Through projects like Wild Basil and CONSIDER we want to explore the intersection between these two areas and test new approaches to addressing issues around both,” says Luize.

AFD, the French public development institution, funds MUVA to support its development and sustainability as a social incubator.

“MUVA is already widely recognised for developing and testing innovative and creative initiatives for women’s economic empowerment. Its projects that explore how biodiversity can be integrated into gender-focused development places MUVA’s work in even closer alignment with AFD’s goals to support and accelerate a transition to a fairer and more sustainable world,” says Emilie Petereit, Country Director for AFD in Mozambique.

Wild Basil is available on Spotify. Click here to listen to the first episode.

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