Uganda is set to host the International Conference for Women Birders, a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and empower women in the world of birdwatching.
Written by Ntulume Nicholas on August 2, 2023
The International Conference for Women Birders is scheduled to take place in Kampala from 6th to 8th December 2023. This conference marks a momentous occasion in the world of bird watching, as it aims to recognize and celebrate the contributions of women birders to the fields of birding, conservation, and environmental awareness.
The theme of this year’s conference is ‘to exist in a world where women birders are recognized and celebrated for their contributions to birding, conservation, and environmental awareness.” It reflects the commitment to empower and uplift women birders and acknowledge their invaluable contributions.
Bird watching is a globally cherished activity, with over 80 million enthusiasts travelling to different parts of the world.
According to Mr Herbert Byaruhanga, a seasoned birder and team leader at Bird Uganda Safaris, an average birder in Uganda spends about 20 days during their trips contributing over $350 per day to the local economies.
“With our target of welcoming 100,000 birders into the country per year by 2030, Uganda is poised to earn $700 million and create 3,000 direct jobs,” Byaruhanga said.
The 2023 International Conference for Women Birders is organized by the Uganda Women Birders, Uganda Safari Guides Association, Bird Uganda Safaris, and other stakeholders and sponsored largely by Private Sector Foundation Uganda in conjunction with other partners. The conference is guided by a Board that is composed of women birders from Europe, USA, South America, China, Australia, and Africa.
Isabella Kankunda Sabune, the PSFU Tourism Industry Specialist noted that the International Women Birders’ conference will not only showcase Uganda’s Tourism diversity but also create dignified opportunities for Youth and Women.
“As PSFU, we are committed to empowering the Youth and Women. We are very excited to be part of this. Creation of jobs for Youth and Women is the overall goal of the Lead Firm Structure program that we are implementing in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation.”
Currently, PSFU is partnering with Uganda women birders to train more women in the birding sector to provide much-needed guiding services to tourists.
Meanwhile, Hon. Martin Mugarra Bahinduka, the state minister for tourism welcomed the conference and noted that as a way of further supporting the tourism industry, the government is working with telecom companies to establish more masts across national parks to ensure seamless connectivity.
“We are looking at having over 60 more masts added in the national parks so that both voice and data network are stable for tourists to easily communicate. We are also speaking to our partners to find ways of addressing the issue of the high cost of devices and data that are key in promoting tourism.”
Being Uganda’s First International Conference for Women Birders signifies the government and the people’s commitment to women empowerment, nature conservation, and ecotourism development. Uganda boasts a recorded count of over 1100 bird species, with nearly two-thirds of them found in the country’s forests. Among these, 11% are of global population significance, while 55% are African species.
Bird watching in Uganda has experienced significant growth, with over 400 active birders, including 120 females, compared to less than 10 in 1995. The country offers rich birding packages, with birding trails around conservation areas and local bird photographers, including women. The recorded bird species have risen to 1100, and birding now ranks among the top 5 tour packages sold by operators, reflecting the growing demand for this unique and diverse experience.
Women play a vital role in ecotourism development, nature conservation, and birding. They contribute as tour guides, researchers, and conservationists, promoting sustainability and community involvement. Their active participation empowers local communities, fosters biodiversity protection, and enhances eco-friendly practices, making a significant impact on environmental conservation and sustainable tourism growth.
Uganda witnessed the inception of Women Birders in 2013, starting with just nine girls. Today, this undertaking has grown to include over 150 women birders from various regions of the country. These women are engaged in diverse professions, including jobs, business ownership, guiding, and driving, showcasing their dedication and passion for birding.