Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Asia unlikely to achieve climate, poverty goals unless women's rights are recognized
by Staff Writers
Beijing, China (SPX) Jul 24, 2012

File image.

New research released 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 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.

"The volume highlights continued discrimination against women, despite the positive ecological, economic and social benefits enabled by their inclusion in the management and decision making processes regarding natural resources," said Arvind Khare, Executive Director of the Rights and Resources Group (the coordinating mechanism of the Rights and Resources Initiative).

"Asia is unlikely to achieve its climate and poverty goals if women's rights to forest and land resources are not recognized."

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.

Women's Rights Critical in Fight against Climate Change and Environmental Degradation
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 Cecile 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."

It is clear that rural women will continue to play a critical role in the global fight against climate change and environmental degradation. Without secure tenure rights, and enforcement of the proper social and environmental safeguards, REDD+ initiatives run the risk of worsening the situation on the ground.

Despite Recognition, Women Remain Left Out of Land Rights and Sustainable Development
Despite the recognition of equal tenure rights for men and women in the law of many Asian countries, women continue to be excluded from property rights and are seldom the owners of the land they cultivate.

According to Xiaobei Wang, a gender and land tenure specialist in China, a 2012 study by Landesa-RDI on the gendered impact of China's recent forestland reform shows that women, despite the laws aiming to protect their rights, are still in a vulnerable position when it comes to land rights.

"At first glance, China's monumental tenure reforms seem to be making great strides towards achieving the goals of reducing poverty and directly improving the livelihoods of 400 million farmers, and, indeed, they generally succeed in protecting farmers' land rights.

However, findings from Landesa's field research show that the decentralized policy in China, which leaves much discretion to village committees to allocate forestland benefits, allows traditional gender practices, norms, and roles to influence those decisions so as to render women's forestland tenure insecure. Although the law is gender neutral, its implementers - often - are not," Wang says.

According to Khare, "appropriate, gender sensitive laws, policies and supporting systems are needed to strengthen rural women's forest land rights in China, and ensure the effectiveness and success of their forestland reform. Even when laws appear gender-neutral, they can serve to deprive women of control over land."

Gender mainstreaming has been a feature in the Philippines, Nepal and Indonesia and yet, programs and projects continue to bypass women.

The case of Nepal also shows that statutory rights alone do not guarantee the recognition of women's authority over management and the use of benefits. Despite gender mainstreaming policies at the national level, women continue to remain less visible and less heard despite some progress and the active lobbying of civil society organizations like Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal (FECOFUN).

For Marlene Buchy, author of the volume's introduction and a leading expert on natural resource management and gender issues, the various case studies throughout Asia "demonstrate strongly that changing the law is necessary and urgent but not sufficient: there has to be a genuine political will to implement and enforce clarified tenure systems. Discrimination against women can be as imbedded in institutional arrangements as in cultural and social norms."

New Framework for Improving Gender Justice and Securing Women's Land Rights
The Challenges of Securing Women's Tenure and Leadership for Forest Management finds that "many Asian women continue to be locked into a cycle of chronic poverty, and are denied some of their basic rights because of unclear, unsecured and unequal tenure rights, despite playing a huge role in sustainable management of natural resources."

To "unlock" this cycle of poverty and disenfranchisement, the authors, recommend a framework based on four interconnected areas of action to improve gender justice and secure tenure rights across Asia:

1/ Increase Women's Visibility Through Mobilization and Networking
2/ Capacity Building Within Projects and Organizations
3/ Reinforce Participatory Ethos
4/ Increase the Link with Policy

These areas of action are key to ensuring that women's rights are recognized, and that Asia will benefit from the positive ecological, economic and social benefits that woman's inclusion guarantees. To ensure that climate and poverty goals on forest and land resources are met, countries, programs like REDD+ and various NGOs and CSOs working on natural resources must increase focus on gender if they wish to capitalize on the benefits emerging from secure women's rights to land.

To do so, attention to the importance of networking is vital. Networks, like REFACOF and FECOFUN increase visibility of a common concern on the national and global stage, give local people a voice and a venue, as well as serve as an important space for capacity building, information sharing and dissemination.

Government agencies, donors, research institutions, NGOs and other civil society organizations must also develop their own capacity on gender justice in natural resource management. More effort is needed to increase the understanding of women and gender rights issues, specifically on the effects of insecure tenure rights.

Empowering women - and reaping the economic and social benefits of this empowerment - will require constant and collective work on policy creation and implementation. Laws must be written or revised in favor of women and other disadvantaged groups. Where good policies exist, the international community must ensure that these laws are implemented, and actually change attitudes and perceptions of traditional gender roles.

This includes ensuring that women's' views are heard, not just voiced. According to Avi Mahaningtyas, Chief of Cluster, Environment and Economic Governance for the Kemitraan-Partnership for Governance Reform in Indonesia and Mia Siscawati, a founding member of the Indonesia Institute for Forest and Environment, "gender justice is dependent on the ability of women and other vulnerable groups to participate in and influence the decision-making process at all levels, from household and community to national, regional and global levels."

The Rights and Resources Initiative is a global coalition of international, regional, and community organizations advancing forest tenure, policy and market reforms. RRI leverages the strategic collaboration and investment of its Partners and Collaborators around the world by working together on research, advocacy and convening strategic actors to catalyze change on the ground.


Related Links
Rights and Resources Initiative
Climate Science News - Modeling, Mitigation Adaptation

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Generation X is surprisingly unconcerned about climate change
Ann Arbor, MI (SPX) Jul 23, 2012
As the nation suffers through a summer of record-shattering heat, a University of Michigan report finds that Generation X is lukewarm about climate change-uninformed about the causes and unconcerned about the potential dangers. "Most Generation Xers are surprisingly disengaged, dismissive or doubtful about whether global climate change is happening and they don't spend much time worrying about i ... read more

Japan probes claim workers' radiation levels faked

Japan sets compensation for Fukushima evacuees

Japan firm 'told workers to lie about radiation dose'

Raytheon technology to transform commercial cargo ships into cutting-edge humanitarian aid delivery platforms

Apple wants billions from Samsung in patent fight

SWF Announces International Dialog on Satellite Servicing and Debris Removal

Tablets to push US electronic sales above $200 bn

Researchers Almost Double Light Efficiency in LC Projectors

Work progresses on Mekong dam?

Artificial jellyfish swims in a heartbeat

Could volcanic eruptions in the south-west Pacific save the Great Barrier Reef?

WWF warns against Croatia, Bosnia hydro plant plans

Polar bear evolution tracked climate change

Study: Himalayan glacial melt accelerating

Greenland glacier loses ice

The challenges facing the vulnerable Antarctic

Lighting up the plant hormone 'command system'

New method for associating genetic variation with crop traits

Clemson plant breeders roll out new oat variety

Researchers develop ginseng-fortified milk to improve cognitive function

China censors coverage of deadly Beijing floods

Scores injured as typhoon lashes Hong Kong

Russia arrests officials after deadly floods

Anger in Beijing as record rains kill at least 37

New sapphire find sends panners into Madagascar lemur park

Flooding in central Nigeria's Jos kills at least 35

US suspends aid to Rwanda amid DR Congo violence

China doubles loans to Africa to $20 billion

Kissenger: virtual lips for long-distance lovers

Oregon's Paisley Caves as old as Clovis sites - but not Clovis

Unique Neandertal arm morphology due to scraping, not spearing

Neanderthals at El Sidron, Northern Spain, had knowledge of plants' healing qualities

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement