A Fair Climate: Gender Equity in Forestry and REDD+ If we don’t have this forest, then we will not have food. If we can preserve the forest, we will have water. We will have food and a lot of things from the forest. Nearly half a BILLION people across Asia-Pacific rely on forests for their livelihood and wellbeing But these forests are disappearing and their loss is contributing to global climate change. Forests have become the key focus for climate change mitigation initiatives across the globe Even though many local communities in Lower Mekong manage their forests in a sustainable way Programs to reduce carbon emissions introduce new challenges to these communities. I think in Asia we have to be aware that men and women play different roles in forest activities. So they have different interests. They take different benefits. They take different products and resources from the forest. Whenever we have the climate change projects, well, these may influence their access; the way how they make decisions in terms of make use of their forest resources. Women play an important role in protecting and managing their forests on a daily basis, alongside men. But often new programs and policies underestimate their contribution and ignore their needs and perspectives. A gender equity approach can help us develop programs that are beneficial for both women and men What is Gender Equity? Gender equity means men and women are treated fairly They have equal rights and representation Both participate in decision making and receive a fair share of benefits Failing to consider the varying capacities and vulnerabilities of women and men puts communities and their forests at risk for conflict, food insecurity and poverty. However, recognizing women as key stakeholders and primary users of forests has positive impacts on how forests are managed So to put gender equity into practice we need to be aware of its different dimensions First, we must consider how the benefits, costs and risks are distributed among local women and men. Second, procedures must then be in place to help bring both their perspectives to the table And finally, we must understand the community’s social and political dynamics and how it influences their decisions. or the kinds of benefits or costs they will take up For the communities in the Lower Mekong, this means women need to be part of the decisions that determine how forests are managed, from the very beginning There are several groups making sure that programs better integrate gender equity into their activities, including the U.S. Agency for International Development. USAID has policies that require analysis to identify potential gaps between how men and women are treated. This is to ensure that our partners at all levels are implementing projects programs that are fair and beneficial to both. In this video we will focus on three best practices to integrate gender equity into programs: Capacity development for women’s effective engagement Sex-disaggregated data collection plus equitable benefits sharing. In Baan Thung Yao, a small forest community in Northern Thailand, women are at the forefront of sustainable forest management including the women’s community group leader – Ms. Rawiwan Kanchaisak. She is one of the many women and men to learn how to strengthen women’s role in forest management. When we receive this knowledge, we can bring it to the community meeting and let the women learn together. Also for the men, they can learn it too Then we can exchange this knowledge with women in other provinces. And they also share how they work which we can also adapt. An effective capacity building has to go beyond the number of women and one-off training events. But rather try to create an institutional support and buy-in from the leadership to promote and sustain this type of capacity building program Mr. Vongxay Monyvong and Ms. Khamsai Sengkeo are from Attapeu, in South East Lao a community that is working to better engage women and men in forest management. Both participated in a training on gender integrated planning We have learnt that the gender role is a very important factor in decision making especially in regard to the forest management and preservation, which is linked to the climate change. And now the International is paying more attention to this issue, for example through REDD+ project. Ms Khamsai and Mr Manyvong also learned about another best practice disaggregating and analyzing data according to sex That helps identify the different roles of men and women in forest management and governance. In very simple terms collecting sex-disaggregated data means collecting the number of men and women in any event. While that’s a good start, you really have to go beyond and see what significance does it really bring to address the gender gaps that remain between men and women. During the data collection period, we used a form to interview (community members) regarding their use of forest resources because we want to include gender into REDD activities. We need to know their use of and the access to the forest by the community. Collecting data would strengthen women’s role as the data collectors especially the data on food from the forest We used this information to change the management of the community forest, for example, to change the women’s role in [community forestry committee] In the past, these were all men, but now more women are participating in the committee, up to 40% from the total number of the committee in the village. By collecting sex-disaggregated data, the community learned that some women in Baan Thung Yao earn a substantial additional income by selling non-timber forest products such as herbs and ant eggs. This information put a value on women’s contribution in managing the forest. And helped the community realize the need to regulate what they use and how they share the benefits among themselves. Because all of us in the village know the rules, we should follow them and work to protect our resource. The key to success for any forest-based climate change initiative is to develop an equitable process for sharing benefits which take into account the roles, needs and contributions of both women and men in the community In any decision making issues there must be women representatives so that they can share or raise their voice and they can raise their problem to the community so they can get the benefit Climate change programs like REDD+ can compensate communities for managing their forests But to ensure that men and women receive a fair share of benefits programs need to consider their individual roles and interests and let them choose their opportunities and outcomes A gender equity approach can improve climate change initiatives that focus on Lower Mekong’s forests and local communities it is the pride of our Thung Yao village We have to preserve it and take care of it We’ve discussed three best practices to help address the gaps facing men and women in community forests Capacity development for women’s effective engagements sex-disaggregated data and analysis and equitable benefits sharing But there are many more best practices that can help you integrate gender equity into your projects To learn more visit the links appearing on your screen.