In the Democratic Republic of Congo, women play a major role in conservation. Take Sophie Mboyo.
Sophie lives in the remote village of Djolu, caring for her eight children while keeping them in school. To make ends meet while her husband is often away pursuing seasonal work, and with no other options, Sophie sells bushmeat.
Selling certain species of wildlife as bushmeat is not only illegal under Congolese law, it also depletes the forest of wildlife critical to the ecosystem. AWF and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), partnered with a local organization, Réseau des Femmes Africaines pour le Développement Durable (REFADD), to create alternative, sustainable livelihood opportunities for Sophie and other “market mamas” like her.
REFADD and AWF have trained 32 market mamas like Sophie in Djolu in soap production, literacy and marketing. Today, they make more money selling soap than they ever made from selling bushmeat. Over a six-month period, the market mamas sold 4,500 bars of soap.