A closer look at gender relations in forest landscape restoration

On this occasion of the International Day of Rural Women, Giulia Micheletti and Marlène Elias from Bioversity International discuss a new framework on how forest landscape restoration can promote gender equality by encouraging a more meaningful participation of women and recognizing their unique expertise in restoration activities.

For many rural women, fulfilling everyday responsibilities such as agricultural production and home gardening, as well as collection of fodder, fuelwood, water and forest products have become more difficult due to environmental degradation. This adds to women’s heavy labour burdens as, for example, they have to venture farther from home to gather these products. Yet, while the need to restore degraded lands and landscapes is pressing and gaining global attention, restoration initiatives often overlook rural women. Since rural men typically have more public authority than women and are considered heads of their household, interventions that work with rural communities tend to favor them when it comes to choosing the areas and species to restore. In fact, gender inequality is an important but under-appreciated factor hindering restoration and the fair distribution of benefits from the process.

A new framework to promote socially just and equitable interventions in forest landscape restoration has been published by gender researchers from Bioversity International, Center for International Forestry Research, and the World Agroforestry Center. Developed within the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, the framework explains that restoration initiatives must consider how gender relations shape access to and control over land and its use, and how changes in land use that may result from restoration can disadvantage women if their rights to resources, priorities, and contributions of labour and knowledge are overlooked.