REDD+ has the potential to enhance conservation and advance women's participation to forest governance. In this blog, Maggie Roth discusses how IUCN initiated "Gender and REDD+ Roadmaps" have helped to include more women into REDD+ decision making in Cameroon, Ghana and Uganda.
Many of us have seen the statistics—around the world, women are the primary subsistence land users yet own only a small fraction of the land; almost two-thirds of the female labor force in developing countries are engaged in agricultural work; at least 600 million women live in and depend on forests; and so forth. What we are not seeing, however, is women and gender equality being reflected in all aspects of forest governance. Sound data makes for stronger policy and better-informed decision-making, but how do we move from information to impact?
At the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), we view our work with forests and natural resource governance—specifically REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation)—as an opportunity to both enhance conservation priorities and advance gender equality. However, only when REDD+ standards and safeguards place gender equality and women’s rights at the core of policies and programming will it become a successful mechanism to combat climate change and provide concrete environmental solutions.
To put these principles into practice, IUCN, in collaboration with key partners, created “Gender and REDD+ Roadmaps” in 2011 and piloted them in Cameroon, Ghana, and Uganda. Developed during the first phase of each country’s REDD+ process, the Roadmaps were the first-of-their-kind and produced in a participatory, country-context specific manner. The Roadmaps aim to enhance gender mainstreaming and gender and climate change considerations into effective national REDD+ activities by ensuring women’s participation in the process: first, women’s networks—such as women NGOs, national-level women cooperatives, and organizations working on specialized topics—are mobilized, constructively engaging in REDD+ issue discussions and identifying actions needed; and then, secondly, joint capacity building workshops with civil society, women’s organizations, policymakers, and relevant stakeholders are held to create the Roadmaps, fostering an understanding that REDD+ and gender equality are intricately linked.
Each Roadmap identified both country and context-specific gender and REDD+ concerns, stakeholders and concrete actions, such as establishing a Gender Task Force (GTF) to represent gender equality at the national level and identifying key government and non-government institutions that can play a central role in integrating gender as a safeguard in the National REDD+ Strategy. In Ghana, for example, a national REDD+ sub-working group for gender (GSWG) has reviewed and provided technical inputs for Ghana’s draft national REDD+ strategy and Grievance Redress Mechanism Report as a means of ensuring that the national REDD+ framework and implementation process is inclusive, pro-poor and gender-sensitive.
Similarly in Uganda, the GTF has been giving input to the National REDD+ Secretariat and increased engagement of women parliamentarians has been seen in forestry and climate change discussions, as well as more advocacy issues being raised concerning gender integration. Additionally, gender-responsive indicators have been developed for the REDD+ monitoring and evaluation framework, ensuring gender equality is not just an “add on,” but a central theme throughout all programming and projects.
The Roadmaps have not been developed without confronting some deeply ingrained challenges, however. A lack of legally recognized land rights poses a barrier for fully engaging women in REDD+, as globally, more men own land than women: the laws or customary practices of 102 countries still deny women the same rights to access land as men. This means that women are not afforded the opportunity to make decisions about what happens to land they depend on for their livelihoods, and importantly, because they (as well as other marginalized groups such as indigenous peoples and seasonal users) often don’t hold titles to the land, women frequently do not receive the benefits—both monetary and otherwise—that come from participating in mechanisms such as REDD+.
Cameroon’s Roadmap has been attempting to address this issue. Thanks in large part to the support from its REDD+ civil society platform, both women and men have become engaged at all levels of the REDD+ decision-making process—with decision-making positions at the village, district, regional and national levels now including 30-40 percent women and contributing to integrating gender into REDD+ policies and planning—as well as reforming national land tenure laws through the lens of gender and REDD+.
Women can no longer be seen as just a nice ingredient to add to the mix—global development goals, such as the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030, cannot be achieved without women. When we take a step back and remember that the long-term goal of REDD+ is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stem the acceleration of anthropogenic climate change, it is clear that both women and men, young and old, are needed in this equation. Today, the Gender and REDD+ Roadmaps are setting the stage for other countries to follow suit in taking steps to ensure that both women and men are equally recognized as important forest stakeholders and guaranteed the opportunity to learn about and participate in REDD+ policy, planning, and implementation.
Maggie Roth is the Communications Officer for the IUCN GGO based in the IUCN Washington, D.C. office. She is passionate about engaging the public in conversations about climate science, its inherent problems, and potential solutions—striving to make it more broadly accessible and understood through effective communication and increased public involvement in policy discussions.
IUCN has and continues to capture the important perspectives of women and men in relation to the environment—documenting and sharing the knowledge and lessons learned to help others inform their work. A recent video was developed to highlight these voices, as well as a series of case studies. A forthcoming publication on gender and REDD+ will be released in 2016. For more information about IUCN’s Global Gender Office, visit the GGO website and follow them on Twitter.
This is an open space for constructive scientific discussion. Any opinions stated in this blog are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily representative of or endorsed by CAPRi. If you disagree with the opinions or information displayed, please leave a comment or write to the editor at email@example.com .
Some of the links on this blog will take you to sites operated by third parties. Neither CAPRI nor the blog’s authors have reviewed all of the information on these sites or their accuracy, and do not endorse these sites, their policies/opinions, or any products they may offer.