Ana Cristina Becerra Salas, 29, is a Forest Engineer who supports vulnerable populations in her native Peru to pursue an inclusive and sustainable development. She has done research and consultancy at the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina in topics that ranged from watershed management to the production of bamboo composites. Her main interest, however, was agroforestry as a profitable adaptation and mitigation strategy. Her research centered on how to design systems that increased the cacao farmers’ income in the Amazon region, while contributing to the restoration of degraded ecosystems.

During the course of her work, Becerra Salas witnessed the differences in welfare between urban and rural communities. Her exposure to gender inequality, namely women’s economic dependence and their limited participation in decision-making, led her to another pursuit: women rights. In 2016, she started working at a human rights and development NGO, where she specialized in gender-based violence prevention.

Becerra Salas plans to use what she learns through the collaboration with the Obama Foundation Scholars Program to scale up her work at the intersection of gender equality and natural resources management in Peru.

“I want to work for the inclusion of women and other vulnerable population groups whose livelihoods depend on our natural resources, and yet are often excluded from the process of creating policies or deciding interventions that directly affect their quality of life."