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IWD2020 – Ensuring equal rights for women, enabling them to achieve their potential (Vol. 4, Issue 2)

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This year’s UN theme of International Women’s Day, I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights, underlines the fact that, despite global advances in many different areas, the world is still far too many decades away from achieving gender equality. Importantly, 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, probably the most forward looking agenda for women’s rights and empowerment ever signed. So, this is a significant moment to look back at targets, take stock of what has been achieved and what still needs to be done. The year 2020 is a time to rethink our actions, from local to broader global interventions aimed at achieving gender equality and promoting the human rights of all women and girls.
Gender equality is a fundamental human right. Moreover, the current challenges faced in agriculture, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation and restoration within the context of climate change can only be addressed if we achieve full equality. This is why gender equality has always been high on FTA’s agenda. As FTA’s overall research agenda has evolved over the years, so too has the Program’s portfolio of gender and social inclusion research. For this reason, FTA has been working on a new Gender and Social Inclusion Research Agenda and Action Plan, which draws on a tradition of quality gender work within FTA centers and complements FTA’s original Gender Strategy (2013). This new document reflects thematic evolutions in FTA and methodological developments in gender research and praxis. It features an increased attention to the nexus between gender and generation (including ‘youth’), and efforts to make FTA’s research increasingly transformative. Stay tuned as this new Research Agenda and Action Plan will be available on in the coming weeks.
In our previous gender-focused newsletter (October 2019) we very sadly announced the loss of Dr Esther Mwangi, a staunch advocate for rural women’s rights, who led the crafting of FTA’s original Gender Strategy. Esther had been overseeing a longstanding research initiative on the progress of forest tenure reforms in Uganda and Kenya. This research has recently been published in the form of a collection of info briefs, which we share with you in her memoriam.
Realizing women’s rights means also that education, science and research must provide them with equal opportunities. Last 11th of February, on the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Violet Chanza Black, a research assistant working on gender at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, shared her personal experience of struggles and determination to obtain equal education as boys in her village. Violet was born in Mulanje, rural Malawi. Her early years involved considerable commuting from her village to the capital city (Lilongwe) to allow her to follow courses. Violet succeeded in achieving her objectives and now holds an MSc in Development Economics, majoring in Human Development and Food Security from the University of Roma Tre. Follow this link to hear Violet’s story – one shared by so many girls around the world – and views on gender equality.
You will find Violet’s compelling interview and, other updates on FTA gender research as well as developments in some priority research areas of FTA in this edition of the newsletter. We hope that these stories and FTA’s work in general will inspire you to reframe your actions towards a gender-equal world; one we all should contribute to and enjoy.
Vincent Gitz, FTA Director, and Marlène Elias, FTA Gender Research Coordinator

Special feature

Equal education rights: not an option

imagethumb.jpgFor the international day of women and girls in science (11 February) FTA sent out statements from our Flagship 1 Leader Ramni Jamnadass and Violet Chanza Black, a gender research assistant at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. Both stories talked about the struggle and ultimately the empowerment that these women obtained through education. Violet’s statement was somewhat extremely provoking. So we decided to find out more.



Ethiopian forests: a story of women

imagethumb.jpgRural women of Ethiopia are the backbone of the community and have a deep relationship with forests. However, because they are not part of community decision making, they are not playing the positive role they could in rebuilding and protecting ecosystems amid the growing threat of climate change. "Deforestation has already become not only a question of development but a question of survival." Learn more about Ethiopia's efforts to regreen its land and the need to empower the invisible warriors: women.

Gender perspectives on agroforestry cocoa production in Ecuador and Perú. Ideas towards an inclusive and sustainable intensification

imagethumb.jpgTwo examples of agroforestry focused on cocoa production – one in Ecuador, the other in Peru – show the benefits of the agroforestry systems to achieve food sovereignty, resilience against the effects of climate change and especially empowerment of women who still represent a vulnerable group, being marginalized from production decisions within the context of the peasant family hierarchy and often neglected by assistance programs. Interesting read (Spanish only).

Women’s place in Africa’s growing charcoal sector

imagethumb.jpgThe growing charcoal business in sub-Saharan Africa has often been seen as a male-dominated occupation, with few studies exploring gender dynamics. In reality, women are present throughout the value chain —from production to transport, sale and retail— and they play a vital role in sustaining rural livelihoods, especially in times of duress. See how.

Restoring Forests, Restoring Communities: Lessons from Shinyanga

imagethumb.jpgThe story begins in Shinyanga, northern Tanzania, with a landscape restoration project that is – or perhaps was – held up as a bright example of successful collaboration between government, conservation scientists and local communities. Priscilla Wainaina, agricultural economist at World Agroforestry (ICRAF), led a research team to investigate what made the Shinyanga restoration so successful. Read the full story.

Analyzing progress of forest tenure reforms in Kenya and Uganda

imagethumb.jpgA collection of briefs just released by CIFOR presents findings on the progress of forest tenure reforms in Uganda and Kenya, following the research of our deeply missed Esther Mwangi. Some of the primary questions tackled by the research were: Are these reforms helping to conserve forest resources and providing livelihood returns for local people? Are they improving land tenure security? What are the impacts on the rights of the poor, specifically women and ethnic minorities, and their access to forests and trees? What are the bottlenecks and is anything missing? What lessons and insights for policy and practice can already be drawn? Find out here.

How climate finance and technology could better integrate women

imagethumb.jpgAmid frustrated negotiations around Article 6 guidance on emissions counting and carbon markets, U.N. COP25 climate talks delivered a decision on a five-year enhanced Lima Work Program on Gender. The work program, initially embedded into the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2014, is a commitment to advance gender balance and integrate gender considerations. Read the report here.

Banner photo by O. Girard/CIFOR. Special feature and news photos, from top, by: CIFOR; N. Elkington/CIFOR; CIFOR; A. Gonzalez/CIFOR; L. A. Duguma / ICRAF; O. Girard/CIFOR; J. Mollins/CIFOR.

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Recent publications


Where are the women? A review and conceptual framework for addressing gender equity in charcoal value chains in Sub-Saharan Africa


Workshop on Gender and Indigenous Women's Rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Protecting Rights to Land and Forests


Understanding and protecting our forest tenure rights and privileges: A guide to training of local community leaders in Uganda


Guidelines on sustainable forest management in drylands of Ethiopia


From Tree Planting to Tree Growing: Rethinking Ecosystem Restoration Through Trees


Unpacking 'gender' in joint forest management: Lessons from two Indian states


Assessing the Livelihood Vulnerability of Rural Indigenous Households to Climate Changes in Central Nepal, Himalaya


Sustainable Development Goals: Their Impacts on Forests and People


Book of Abstracts: 4th World Congress on Agroforestry


Perspectivas de género sobre la producción de cacao agroforestal en Ecuador y Perú. Ideas para una intensificación inclusiva y sostenible



Gender Equality & Malnutrition Transformation

International Women’s Day 2020: FTA interview with Violet Chanza Black



How to catalyze gender equitable change (Markus Ihalainen)

Gender power relationships (Houria Hjoudi)

The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, ICRAF, INBAR and TBI.

FTA thanks all donors who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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