Women Healers of Amazonia: Conservation and Sustainability

Hailed as potential cures for cancer, AIDS, and other diseases, medicinals were seen in the 1990s as a means of protecting tropical rainforests through sustainable development. But what are the gender implications? Because women are often responsible for providing health care to their families, and in rural areas often rely upon medicinal plants to do so, studies were needed to understand and mitigate potential negative impacts to women, their families and local communities.

In this presentation I share the findings from my fieldwork in the northern Peruvian Amazon. I examined whether the pharmaceutical potential of tropical forest ecosystems could be transformed into tangible and equitable conservation and development. My slideshow illustrates how the threads of conservation, poverty, gender and health care are woven together and why it is critically important to involve local communities in conservation and development efforts so that ‘sustainable development’ doesn’t destabilize sustainable subsistence use.

Presenter Profile: Kathryn Lynch, Co-director, Environmental Leadership Program

Kathryn Lynch is an environmental anthropologist who has a strong commitment to participatory, collaborative, and interdisciplinary approaches in both her research and teaching. She has worked in Peru, Ecuador, Indonesia, and the United States, examining issues of community-based natural resource management.