Yaounde, September 28: A five day workshop was organised for representatives from government and Civil Society in Cameroon on the mainstreaming of gender in the country’s strategy for the implementation of ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’ (REDD+). The meetings took place from 19 till 23 September and were organised by IUCN and the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO) in the context of the on-going implementation of IUCN’s Pro-Poor REDD+ Project in Cameroon.
Discussions amongst participants revealed how the roles that women across Cameroon play in forest management and forest use remain largely invisible. “Most decision makers and even female Civil Society leaders adhere to the idea that women will be de facto included in REDD+ planning” said George Akwah Neba, coordinator of the Pro-Poor REDD+ Project in Cameroon.
This perception however changed as the workshop led participants through a stepwise process designed to build understanding on climate change and its differentiated impacts on women and men, the ecological function of forests in relation to the carbon cycle, and the various design options and possible social and environmental implications of REDD+ implementation.
It became clear to most that special activities will be needed to ensure that their involvement is recognised and that they have the capacity to fully and effectively engage in the process. “Without the involvement of women as equal partners in REDD+ decision making, the program won’t be able to reach its objectives of equity, effectiveness and efficiency”, adds George.
The involvement of various Ministries, such as Cameroon’s Ministry of Women and Family Affairs alongside the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife, the Ministry of Environment and Protection of Nature, and the Ministry of Water and Energy in a new environmental issue such as REDD+ is seen as a breakthrough. It shows that the role of women as important stakeholders in forest related decision making processes starts to be recognised. A better understanding of the linkage between women and forests nevertheless continues to be a priority for future work.
Andrea Quesada, Programme Officer at WEDO who led the workshop, explains, “You don’t achieve parity for women in forest-related decision making processes overnight. This is just the beginning. This process of gender mainstreaming will require further awareness raising events and the inclusion of representatives that are fully aware of the issue in those teams that work on climate change and the building of Cameroon’s REDD+ strategy at the national level”.
The workshop produced a framework with specific gender considerations and gender sensitive activities for each of the phases of REDD+ implementation. This outline will be presented at COP17 in Durban in December this year, along with similar outcomes from Ghana where REDD+ gender workshops were organised in early September and from Uganda, where the process will be started next month.
For more information please contact George Akwah Neba, George.firstname.lastname@example.org