From: EurekAlert
Published July 21, 2012 07:52 AM

Women in Asia Need more Equality to Achieve Climate & Poverty Goals

New research released today by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) shows that despite more understanding, more resources, and policy recommendations, women continue to be largely marginalized and ignored or exploited in resource management processes throughout Asia – to the detriment of global climate and poverty reduction goals.


This suite of analyses, released today at the International Workshop on Gender and Forest Tenure in Asia and Collective Forest Tenure Reform in China, demonstrate that exclusion and inequality on gender grounds are still rife and complicated by the intersection of cultural and social norms, economic pressures, and inadequate legal and institutional frameworks. Authors of the studies call for emerging programs and policies to combat climate change or encourage sustainable development to incorporate lessons learned.

This new research links analyses on the status of forest tenure rights and gender rights across South and South East Asia. Today's workshop in Beijing, hosted by the State Forestry Administration's Chinese Academy of Forestry in coordination with RRI and Landesa-RDI, and includes high-level participation from provincial and national government agencies in China, leading experts on gender and forest tenure from throughout Asia and voices from Chinese civil society.

Securing tenure and access rights to natural resources has long been a critical step towards achieving environmental and social justice; however, these issues have again become timely in relation to new forest sector initiatives for mitigation and adaptation to climate change, particularly Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) strategies and programs, posing a danger that past failures to address gender will only be repeated in the new plans and interventions.

In the last decade, climate change has become more prominent in the global discourse, and the REDD+ agenda is re-invigorating interest in the relationship between gender, on one hand, and forest tenure, governance and enterprise on the other, in order to ensure the success of climate intervention strategies. Without this linkage, Asia is unlikely to achieve the climate and poverty goals to which it has committed.

According to Jeannette Gurung and Abidah Billah Setyowati from Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (WOCAN), REDD+ can provide significant benefits for countries in Asia if properly designed; however, limited participation by women and other marginalized groups, is a huge problem: "Despite the evidence of women's extensive engagement in forest management, few institutions in the countries studied have incorporated gender into their activities and plans. The current, almost complete neglect of gender issues and women's roles as stakeholders within REDD+ policies, plans and projects globally provides evidence that little has changed in the way that members of the forest sector view these concerns - this is despite the fact that gender equality is currently understood by development practitioners as key to reaching goals for poverty alleviation and human development."

It is not just women that are harmed by their disenfranchisement. According to Cécile Ndjebet, President of The African Women's Network for Community Management of Forests (REFACOF), "If women are left out of the land rights equation, we will see a drastic drop in agricultural production, leading to increasing food insecurity and potential famine. Poverty and displacement will increase, and we will see a drastic rise in conflicts over resource ownership and usage."

Thai woman via Shutterstock.

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