Making gender equality a priority in REDD+ countries

Cameroon, Ghana, Guatemala, Mexico and Uganda are implementing customised strategies that increase women’s participation and gender-responsive decision making in all stages of REDD+

A young Ghanean woman cycling through local farms and forestland

IUCN & REDD+ series: On the road to Paris and beyond

In the lead up to the Paris Climate Change Conference in December (UNFCCC COP21), IUCN’s Global Forest and Climate Change Programme is publishing a series of articles highlighting the innovative steps developing countries are taking to equitably share the benefits from reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhancing forest carbon stocks – activities commonly known as ‘REDD+’. Beyond COP21, this article series will continue to highlight the challenges and opportunities of setting up equitable REDD+ benefit sharing arrangements in tropical countries.

Every day, women and men around the world – farmers, foresters, fishers, caretakers and household providers alike – depend on natural resources, especially forests. But their specific roles, rights and responsibilities, as well as their knowledge of forests, shape their experiences differently. Women are often marginalized from land ownership due to unclear rights to tenure and natural resources, and they are vulnerable to losing access to resources if they are not married, or become widowed or divorced. Women are also frequently underrepresented in forest-related decision making and leadership roles. And most of the world’s poorest people (i.e. those living on less than US$2 per day) are women (FAO, World Bank and IFAD).

This mix of forest dependency, poverty and lack of rights to land ownership and decision making means women are often the first to suffer the consequences of depleting forest resources. For REDD+ to become a successful mechanism to combat climate change and improve livelihoods, gender-responsive safeguards and strategies need to be mainstreamed into the core of REDD+ planning, policies and measures; not only to protect women, but also to ensure that REDD+ activities benefit from their traditional knowledge and expertise as primary users of forests.

Cameroon, Ghana and Uganda implement gender and REDD+ roadmaps

Since 2011, IUCN has been involved in participatory, multi-stakeholder outreach with government and civil society in Cameroon, Ghana and Uganda to develop gender and REDD+ roadmaps. These roadmaps are under development as part of the countries’ REDD+ and climate strategies. The roadmaps were produced in each country by identifying context-specific gender and REDD+ concerns, collaborating with stakeholders, and committing to a set of concrete actions to integrate gender into REDD+ activities.

Part of the roadmap process has involved developing Gender Task Forces and Gender Sub-Working Groups to build the capacity of women and women’s organizations on climate change and REDD+, and advise various stakeholders including governments on gender equality. These task forces and working groups are established in the three countries, and are now in various stages of roadmap implementation.

Cameroon’s Gender Task Force has been integrated into the country’s National REDD+ and Climate Change Civil Society Platform. This has helped ensure gender considerations are a part of REDD+ discussions at all levels of government, and has enhanced the task force’s role as a body for gender advocacy. Women now represent 30-40 per cent of REDD+ decision makers in the country. Although there is still much work to be done, the traditional perceptions of the role of women is changing in Cameroon, and the Gender Task Force is contributing to this by building the capacities of women on institutional, legal, technical and organizational aspects of REDD+.

“The involvement of women in REDD+ and climate change issues is not just an attempt to get women informed, but a means of ensuring their contribution is producing change,” says Ako Charlotte Eyong, REDD+ Officer for IUCN in Cameroon.

Ghana’s Gender Sub-Working Group is now part of the country’s National REDD+ Working Group, which is hosted within the Forestry Commission. Part of the roadmap process has included establishing a Gender Desk in the Forestry Commission that works closely with IUCN and the Gender Sub-Working Group to implement its action plan. Ghana’s gender advocacy approach has focused on dispelling the notion that gender is only about women. Engaging men, as well as key government agencies (particularly the Forestry Commission) has been a key component in mainstreaming gender considerations for REDD+.

Uganda’s Gender Task Force, now part of the country’s National REDD Secretariat, is already reviewing a final REDD+ action plan that engages environmental ministries and seeks support from the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development. At the subnational level, Uganda’s REDD+ project in Mt. Elgon National Park has committed to having a management committee made up of at least 40 per cent women, to ensure their perspectives are adequately represented in planning and decision making.

There have been challenges during this work in all three countries, to be sure. Lack of funds and sluggish overall REDD+ strategy development are among some of the dynamics that have delayed progress on the implementation of gender and REDD+ roadmaps. Nonetheless, their successes and struggles are providing valuable lessons for other countries seeking to ensure women and men are equally included in REDD+ planning and implementation.

Read more on gender and REDD+ roadmaps in Cameroon, Ghana and Uganda

Addressing gender equity in Mexico

IUCN’s Global Gender Office is collaborating with Mexico to mainstream gender in the country’s REDD+ initiatives. Gender considerations have been included in Mexico’s legal and public policy frameworks related to REDD+, which has in turn led to adding further gender references into the country’s national strategy for REDD+ and its Special Program for Climate Change (PECC). The knowledge generated throughout this work is being captured in Mexico’s Gender Action Plan for REDD+ (PAGeREDD+) and the country’s legal and public policy gender analysis.

At the subnational level, gender has been mainstreamed into national guidelines for state-level REDD+ strategies. Mexico is also looking to create a subnational platform for gender and climate change built on existing networks.

To implement and monitor these national and subnational activities, Mexico is incorporating gender considerations in its National Safeguards System. The country is also including gender sensitive indicators in its REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards (SES) initiative in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Read more on Mexico’s Gender Action Plan for REDD+ (in Spanish)

Guatemala’s first steps in mainstreaming gender for REDD+

Guatemala has had gender considerations on its radar since it began preparing for REDD+. While developing its REDD+ Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP), the country held consultations with several grassroots organisations including ASOCUCH that represents, among others, 10 groups of entrepreneurial women. More broadly, Guatemala has adopted a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2012-2022), which commits to equitable benefit sharing for women and men. Also, the National Climate Change Policy (entitled “Guiding principles of the National Policy on Climate Change”) calls for gender considerations in all climate change related programs.

Building on this work, IUCN has supported Guatemala’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, as well as its Forest Service, to analyse and update their gender policies. IUCN has also worked with the country’s National Protected Areas Council over the past year to design the Council’s first gender strategy. These initial steps have laid the foundation for a comprehensive gender analysis of Guatemala’s existing policies and legal frameworks, in order to outline a gender-responsive plan for its national REDD+ strategy. IUCN is supporting this analysis, as well as Guatemala’s plans to develop a roadmap for including gender considerations in its REDD+ strategy design.

In November, Guatemala will host a national-level workshop to plan its gender mainstreaming activities for REDD+ in 2016. Some of the country’s goals include engaging a broader group of stakeholders in the design of gender-responsive REDD+ efforts, as well as identifying steps to ensure a gender perspective is included in the design of land use and forest policy assessments in the country.

Read more on Guatemala’s gender and REDD+ initiatives

More on Gender and REDD+

  • Check out the new gender section on the REDD Desk website; this section was recently launched by IUCN’s Global Gender Office and the Global Canopy Programme.
  • IUCN is currently compiling a series of case studies on best practices for mainstreaming gender in REDD+ (featuring examples in Cameroon, Ghana, Nepal, Suriname and Uganda) that will soon be available on IUCN’s Global Gender Office website.

Share your thoughts on Twitter @IUCN_forests #IUCNREDD or contact us at [email protected].

The REDD+ benefit sharing examples and lessons featured in this article series come from country experiences of two ongoing IUCN projects: the REDD+ Benefit Sharing Project funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB); and the Toward Pro-Poor REDD+ (Phase II) project, promoting rights-based approaches to strengthen the conservation, governance and sustainable management of landscapes in Cameroon, Ghana, Guatemala, Papua Province of Indonesia, and Uganda, funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).

Work area: 
Climate Change
West and Central Africa
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