Gender crosscutting themes

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Gender equality is a human right and a fundamental condition for reaching sustainable development. However, although many women and men worldwide depend on forests, agroforestry and trees for their livelihoods, significant inequalities exist in their roles, rights and responsibilities. This is reflected in their different ability to participate in decision-making, benefit from forest and tree resources, and respond to changes in forest and tree-based landscapes. For the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) — a program with a key focus on policies, institutions and governance — gender inequalities present structural barriers to the change that is needed to support sustainable and equitable development solutions in tree-based landscapes. This is why concern for gender equality is deeply integrated into every research domain of FTA.

FTA Gender News

FTA Gender Research

Overview

With an estimated 1.6 billion people dependent on forests and trees, including trees on farms, for their livelihoods, forest, tree and agroforestry systems have the potential to address many sustainable development challenges. Gender relations and norms, as fundamental organizing structures across cultures and societies, play a pivotal role in shaping opportunities and constraints in these tree-based systems, and condition the ability of women and men to benefit from, and contribute to, positive development and environmental change. Hence, providing relevant solutions and leveraging opportunities requires understanding the complex role of gender in shaping livelihood and resource management decisions, governance, and the distribution of benefits from tree-based systems.

 

What FTA does on gender

FTA prioritizes a transformative approach to gender equality by focusing on structural barriers and drivers of change in tree-based and forested landscapes, and how these affect men and women’s capabilities to control assets and resources, value and distribute unremunerated labor, and meaningfully participate in decision making at the household and community levels. The aim is to better understand the complexity of these barriers and develop options to dismantle them.

Photo by Juan Carlos Huayllapuma/CIFOR

FTA gender research focuses on how a wide range of changes in forest and tree-based landscapes – such as the development of markets, climate change, migration, expansion of agriculture, and interventions in the name of conservation and development – affect and are influenced by women and men.

FTA considers how gender intersects with other factors of social differentiation, such as age, socioeconomic status or ethnicity, to shape these processes. FTA generates evidence and proposes options to address the structural and institutional factors that constrain young men and women’s participation in forest management, tree and forest product value chains and non-farm entrepreneurial activities. It also focuses on the aspirations, interests, skills and knowledge of young men and women, and their relation to tree-based livelihood activities.

The research contributes to the development of tools, approaches, and measures that can support young men and women’s capacities, interests, and opportunities in natural resource management.

This way, findings from FTA’s gender research help to safeguard women’s rights, combat gender injustice and equitably expand opportunities for both men and women in rural landscapes. FTA aligns its activities with the Sustainable Development Goals, and aims to contribute to a global vision of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

How FTA works on gender

FTA generates high quality research on gender and social inclusion to inform policy and practice. To do this, FTA:

Conducts research on issues specifically related to gender relations and forests, agroforests and trees
  • FTA is conducting comparative research on structural causes of gender inequalities in tree-based landscapes, across a range of priority gender, forestry and natural resource management themes;
  • FTA is improving local women’s and men’s awareness, capacities, and gender equality and social inclusion through innovative action research methodologies. The aim is to enhance women’s participation in decision-making and control over FTA resources and related benefits, at the household and community levels.
  • FTA is synthesizing findings and developing knowledge hubs for researchers, policy-makers and practitioners around priority themes;
Integrates gender analysis and research into each of FTA’s research streams and projects;
  • FTA research teams work with gender specialists to identify and address gender dimensions within larger initiatives focused on tree-seed systems, land and forest restoration, landscape level land-use change, forest-based value chains, and climate change.

Integrates gender analysis and research into each of FTA’s research streams and projects;
  • FTA research teams work with gender specialists to identify and address gender dimensions within larger initiatives focused on tree-seed systems, land and forest restoration, landscape level land-use change, forest-based value chains, and climate change.

Strengthens the capacities of FTA scientists and partners to carry out gender-responsive research and develop gender-responsive policies and processes;
  • FTA’s capacity strengthening efforts focus on equipping scientists and partners with the latest thinking on gender in natural resource management, including engaging with intersectionality, gender transformative approaches, and with young women’s and men’s aspirations, constraints, and opportunities in tree-based landscapes.

Builds and maintains partnerships with relevant stakeholders to feed research findings into national and global policy processes;

Monitors and evaluates gender integration in research and action across the FTA portfolio, and its contribution to gender equality and social inclusion outcomes.

FTA and youth: At the intersection of gender and generations

FTA works in dynamic contexts, where not only forest landscapes, but also the ambitions, interests and livelihood opportunities of younger generations, are rapidly changing. Explicitly considering such intergenerational changes and how they link across age and gender helps recognize the current (and future) challenges and opportunities for young people in FTA program areas. To better understand and address the needs and interests of young women and men, FTA conducts research with younger generations, and on young people’s actual and desired engagement in forest and tree-based landscapes

Photo: Georgina Smith / CIAT

FTA’s research on youth sits within its gender equality and social inclusion research agenda, and is rooted in an analysis of the social relations and structures that shape rural people’s capacities to lead the lives they wish to in (and often beyond) tree-based landscapes. The research follows two interrelated perspectives. The first focuses on young women and men’s aspirations, interests, knowledge and skills in relation to forest and agroforestry landscapes and livelihoods. The second generates evidence around the structural and institutional factors that constrain young women and men’s engagement in tree and forest management, and in entrepreneurial activities and value chains across the forest transition curve.

It examines the factors enabling or constraining young men and women’s capacity to innovate within tree-based landscapes, including their typically limited access to decision-making and productive resources, such as land, finance and information. Within both streams, the research contributes to the development of tools, approaches and measures that can support young men and women’s capacities, interests and opportunities in natural resource management, related delivery systems and forest product value chains.

Team

Marlène Elias

Marlène Elias is a Gender Specialist at Bioversity International and Gender Research Coordinator for the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). She leads gender research and supports gender integration in Bioversity’s work on forest genetic resources, with an emphasis on strengthening the capacities of Bioversity staff to conduct participatory, gender-responsive research that will deliver positive and equitable benefits to men and women beneficiaries. Marlène has a BSc in Biology and Environmental Sciences, and an MA and PhD in Geography. Rooted in a feminist political ecology approach, her research focuses on gendered dimensions of forest management and restoration, local ecological knowledge, and forest/agrifood value chains, predominantly in West Africa and South and Central Asia. Marlène is based in Rome, Italy, and can be reached at marlene.elias@cgiar.org.

Bimbika Sijapati Basnett

Bimbika is a Gender Coordinator at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and works within FTA. She also manages CIFOR and FTA´s research programs on migration and multilocal livelihoods, and agribusiness investments in forested landscapes. Bimbika holds a PhD in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK. Prior to joining CIFOR, Bimbika worked as a gender researcher and consultant in UN bodies, NGOs, government agencies and policy-research think tanks in South Asia and the South Pacific regions. Bimbika is based in Bogor, Indonesia, and can be reached at b.basnett@cgiar.org.

Markus Ihalainen

Markus works on the integration of gender across CIFOR and FTA´s research portfolios. His research is currently focused on examining the gendered socioeconomic dimensions of timber and charcoal value chains in Africa. Markus is also involved in the coordination of the gender integration work between FTA’s institutions. Markus holds an MA in Development Studies from the University of Uppsala, Sweden, and a Bachelor in Geography from the University of Stockholm, Sweden. Before joining CIFOR, he worked in Namibia on gender and LGBT-issues. Markus is based in Nairobi, Kenya, and can be reached at m.ihalainen@cgiar.org.

Ana Maria Paez-Valencia

Ana Maria supports work by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the FTA Gender unit in developing an operational framework for effectively integrating gender and inclusion into FTA and ICRAF’s work. Before joining CGIAR she worked with the Statistics Division and the Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), supporting the capacity development strategy for member countries on production and use of gender-disaggregated agricultural data and addressing gender and social equality in agricultural and food security programs. She has nine years of work experience on the design, planning, execution, and monitoring and evaluation of development projects, particularly on indicators design with a gender lens. Ana Maria is based in Nairobi, Kenya, and can be reached at a.paez-valencia@cgiar.org.

Partners

In its cross-cutting gender research, FTA works with different types of research and boundary partners, from local to global scales, including governmental and nongovernmental agencies in the forestry sector, as well as national gender apparatus, UN agencies, international NGOs, national organizations, gender/feminist academics, community organizations and local communities.

FTA research is responsive to partners’ requests for empirical data to inform gender inclusive policy and to shape global and national priorities. Through national and global partners, FTA also influences global policy forums and processes. Academic partnerships enable FTA to incorporate the latest cutting-edge feminist and gender theories into its research. FTA strives for the coproduction of knowledge with national researchers, students, young professionals and communities, and supports their capacity to address gender issues in their work.

FTA’s partners in gender research include:

Learning

Local and community governance

Since the 1980s, there has been a progressive decentralization of forest governance, with forest-dependent communities gaining greater management rights and responsibilities over their resources (Agrawal et al.  ). Globally, there has been a rise in collaborative governance arrangements, wherein governments and communities are meant to share power, responsibilities and benefits from forest management (Ansell and Gash 2008). Yet, two major challenges with these collaborative models have emerged. The first is an inadequate devolution of power from the state to communities, as governments retain significant control over decision-making processes and outcomes (Sarin et al. 2003; Ribot et al.  ). The second is elite capture of decision-making, resources and benefits, as privileged segments of communities, such as more resourced, senior men, monopolize local forest governance processes (Persha and Andersson 2014 ).

The capacity of different groups to participate in local forest governance is shaped by factors of social differentiation, such as gender, age and socioeconomic status, which intersect to shape people’s ability to make decisions and access and control resources within their society (Sarin et al.  ). Gender norms and other social structures that mediate women and men’s roles and relations lead to women’s underrepresentation in forest user groups (Sunderland et al.  ), and hinder women’s active participation and influence in such groups even when they are formally represented (Agarwal 2010). Such processes can dissuade women and other excluded groups from adhering to collective forest management rules that have been established without their consent, and which may run counter to their needs and purposes. In contrast, women’s active participation in forest governance can promote sustainable management practices and improved forest incomes (Agarwal  ; Mwangi and Coleman 2013).

Case studies

Agarwal, B. 2010. Gender and green governance: The political economy of women’s presence within and beyond community forestry. Oxford University Press, New Delhi and Oxford.

Coleman EA and Mwangi E. 2013. Women’s Participation in Forest Management: A Cross-country Analysis. Global Environmental Change 23:193–205

Nightingale, A. J. (2002). Participating or Just Sitting In? The Dynamics of Gender and Caste in Community Forestry. Journal of Forest and Livelihood, 2(1), 17–24.

Agarwal, B. (2001). Participatory Exclusions, Community Forestry, and Gender: An Analysis for South Asia and a Conceptual Framework. World Development, 29(12), 1623–1648. http://doi.org/10.1016/S0305-750X(01)00066-3

Agarwal, B (2010) ‘Does women’s proportional strength affect their participation? Governing local forests in South Asia.’ World Development 38 (1): 98-112

Agarwal, B (2009a) ‘Rule making in community forestry institutions: The difference women make.’ Ecological Economics 68:2296-2308

Agarwal, B (2009b) ‘Gender and forest conservation: The impact of women’s participation in community forest governance’. Ecological Economics 68:2785-2799

Coulibaly-Lingani, P., Savadogo, P., Tigabu, M., & Oden, P. C. (2011). Factors influencing people’s participation in the forest management program in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Forest Policy and Economics, 13(4), 292–302. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2011.02.005

Dangol, S. (2005). Participation and Decision-making in Nepal. In C. J. P. Colfer (Ed.), The Equitable Forest: Diversity, Community, and Resource Management (pp. 54–71). Abingdon: Routledge.

Das, N. (2011). Women’s dependence on forest and participation in forestry: A case study of joint forest management programme in West Bengal. Journal of Forest Economics, 17(1), 67–89. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfe.2010.09.003

Evans K, Flores S, Larson AM, Marchena R, Muller P, Pikitle A. 2016. Challenges for women’s participation in communal forests: Experience from Nicaragua’s indigenous territories. Women’s Studies International Forum

Gupte, M. (2004). Participation in a gendered environment: The case of community forestry in India. Human Ecology, 32(3), 365–382. http://doi.org/10.1023/B:HUEC.0000028086.63366.3d

Locke, C. 1999. Constructing a Gender Policy for Joint Forest Management in India. Development and Change, 30(2), 265–285. http://doi.org/10.1111/1467-7660.00117

Lund, J. F., & Saito-Jensen, M. (2013). Revisiting the Issue of Elite Capture of Participatory Initiatives. World Development, 46, 104–112. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2013.01.028

McDermott, M. H. K., & Schreckenberg, K. (2009). Equity in Community Forestry: Insights from North and South. International Forestry Review, 11(2), 157–170. http://doi.org/10.1505/ifor.11.2.155

McDougall, C. L., Leeuwis, C., Bhattarai, T., Maharjan, M. R., & Jiggins, J. (2013). Engaging women and the poor: Adaptive collaborative governance of community forests in Nepal. Agriculture and Human Values, 30(4), 569–585. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-013-9434-x

Nuggehalli, R. K., & Prokopy, L. S. (2009). Motivating factors and facilitating conditions explaining women’s participation in co-management of Sri Lankan forests. Forest Policy and Economics, 11(4), 288–293. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2009.05.002

Ribot, J. C., Agrawal, A., & Larson, A. M. (2006). Recentralizing While Decentralizing: How National Governments Reappropriate Forest Resources. World Development, 34(11), 1864–1886. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2005.11.020

Sarin, M. (2001). Empowerment and Disempowerment of Forest Women in Uttarakhand, India. Gender, Technology and Development, 5(3), 341–364. http://doi.org/10.1177/097185240100500301

Stiem, L., and Krause, T. 2016. Exploring the Impact of Social Norms and Perceptions on Women’s Participation in Customary Forest and Land Governance in the Democratic Republic of Congo—Implications for REDD+. International Forestry Review 18(1):110-122.
https://doi.org/10.1505/146554816818206113

Restoration

The global pledge to restore almost 125 million hectares of degraded forests and landscapes in response to the Bonn Challenge represents an opportunity to advance the triple goals of environmental conservation, poverty alleviation and gender equality. Many of these restoration effort concentrate on the small land patches managed by the world’s 1.6 billion smallholders — both women and men — who play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems (Marjokorpi and Otsamo  ). Yet, meaningfully engaging local people in restoration efforts in a way that safeguards their rights and advances their needs and interests remains a pressing challenge. What is more, women and marginalized groups are particularly susceptible to exclusion from decision-making and benefit sharing processes, as even in well-intentioned restoration initiatives, participation tends to be dominated by better resourced, educated, land-owning men from privileged sociocultural groups (Nederlof and   2007). Initiatives that do not actively seek to protect the rights and promote the voices of marginalized groups may in fact reinforce social cleavages (McDermott  ) and ultimately undermine the legitimacy and efficacy of restoration efforts.

There are many reasons for actively engaging with local women and men who contribute to, and are affected by, restoration initiatives. First and foremost, restoration initiatives often take place on lands claimed or utilized by communities, which may be considered ‘vacant’ or ‘underutilized’ by external actors and/or which may not be formally titled. If men are susceptible to losing their lands to restoration initiatives, rural women are all the more so, as their rights are especially tenuous due to legal and cultural barriers to women’s land rights and ownership (FAO   and Elmhirst et al. 2017). Women’s (and poor men’s) insecure access to land and trees can also limit their ability and interest to plant or manage trees over which they may not have decision-making authority or long term access (Fortmann et al. 1997; Mukadasi and Nabalegwa  ). Hence, restoration efforts must begin with a careful understanding of local tenure regimes, seek to ensure the free prior informed consent of all affected stakeholders (women and men alike), and offer compensation that local people consider as ‘fair’ and ‘just’ if and when restoration activities result in dispossession of land and livelihoods.

Second, engaging women and men across different social groups in restoration initiatives is important for gaining an understanding of local needs and interests, and to capitalize on the opportunity to learn about local knowledge of ecosystems and resource management institutions (Blay et al.  ). Due to their socially constructed gender roles, women and men’s environmental knowledge and priorities for restoration often differ (Elias and Carney 2017). Ignoring women in restoration initiatives means overlooking the priorities and knowledge of half of the population. In contrast, publically recognizing women as land managers and ecological knowledge holders can enhance the recognition and social standing they hold within their communities.

Third, many restoration initiatives seek to promote both conservation and local livelihoods. If women are not involved in restoration decision-making processes, their ability to secure new livelihood opportunities through restoration will be curtailed. At the same time, lessons from past experiences suggest that restoration efforts that rely on women’s paid and unpaid contributions without due recognition inadvertently exacerbate women’s work burden and augment gender asymmetries.

Finally, equitable participation in restoration initiatives generates broader local buy-in and enhanced capacities, with improved prospects for both human and socioeconomic development and environmental outcomes (Covelli-Metcalf et al.  ; Horlings  ; Lescourret  ). At the same time, easy win-wins cannot be assumed as restoration efforts that promote gender equality and/or address women’s interests may not always be the most ecologically sustainable option (see Djoudi and Brockhaus 2011 for a study in Burkina Faso). Hence, harnessing synergies between gender equality and forest restoration requires careful analysis and planning, and empowering local women and men to leverage opportunities and negotiate change at multiple levels (see Mwangi et al. 2016).

Although gender issues are central to restoration, and there exist potential synergies between restoration and gender equality outcomes, gender remains poorly addressed in restoration research and practice (Clewell and Aronson  ; Broeckhoeven and Cliquet  ).

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Morbi vitae purus ut sem varius volutpat nec ut sapien. Donec egestas fringilla ipsum nec consectetur. Etiam pretium pellentesque metus laoreet pretium. Suspendisse viverra velit vitae nisl posuere, non volutpat tortor volutpat. Fusce laoreet, risus sit amet lacinia pretium, leo mi ullamcorper augue, vel vulputate enim ex et tortor. Aliquam facilisis accumsan risus, non congue odio consequat nec. Nulla molestie suscipit magna, vitae hendrerit ipsum. Nullam commodo diam a dapibus convallis. Duis ullamcorper est ut suscipit dapibus.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Morbi vitae purus ut sem varius volutpat nec ut sapien. Donec egestas fringilla ipsum nec consectetur. Etiam pretium pellentesque metus laoreet pretium. Suspendisse viverra velit vitae nisl posuere, non volutpat tortor volutpat. Fusce laoreet, risus sit amet lacinia pretium, leo mi ullamcorper augue, vel vulputate enim ex et tortor. Aliquam facilisis accumsan risus, non congue odio consequat nec. Nulla molestie suscipit magna, vitae hendrerit ipsum. Nullam commodo diam a dapibus convallis. Duis ullamcorper est ut suscipit dapibus.

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