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  • Communities restoring landscapes: Stories of resilience and success

Communities restoring landscapes: Stories of resilience and success


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This collection of 12 stories from women and men in nine countries in different parts of Africa shines a light on the efforts of communities, some of them decades-long, in restoring degraded forests and landscapes. The stories are not generated through any rigorous scientific process, but are nonetheless illustrative of the opportunities communities create as they solve their own problems, and of the many entry points we have for supporting and accelerating community effort. The stories show that leadership, social capital and cooperation, clear property rights/tenure, and supportive governance are important for successful community-based restoration. From the perspectives of communities, “success” is not only about the number of trees planted and standing over a certain terrain: it is also about the ability to secure and enhance livelihoods; to strengthen existing community relationships and to build new ones with other actors; to develop a conservation ethic among younger generations; and, in some cases, to expand the rights of excluded individuals and groups. This collection is about amplifying the voices of local people in global policy debates.

Foreword. Communities restoring landscapes: Stories of resilience and success

Story 1. Holding back the desert: One farmer’s story of restoring degraded land in the Sahel region in Burkina Faso

Story 2. Women gaining ground through reforestation on the Cameroonian coast

Story 3. Building resilience to climate change through community forest restoration in Ghana

Story 4. Thinking in tomorrow: Women leading forest restoration in Mt Kenya and beyond

Story 5. Mikoko Pamoja: Carbon credits and community-based reforestation in Kenya’s mangroves

Story 6. Rights, responsibilities and collaboration: The Ogiek and tree growing in the Mau

Story 7. Restoring Madagascar’s mangroves: Community-led conservation makes for multiple benefits

Story 8. Flood recovery, livelihood protection and mangrove reforestation in the Limpopo River Estuary, Mozambique

Story 9. Regaining their lost paradise: Communities rehabilitating mangrove forests in the drought-affected Saloum Delta, Senegal

Story 10. From the grass roots to the corridors of power: Scaling up efforts for conservation and reforestation in Senegal

Story 11. Taming the rising tide: Keeping the ocean at bay through community reforestation on Kisiwa Panza island, Tanzania

Story 12. Shaking the tree: Challenging gender, tenure and leadership norms through collaborative reforestation in Central Uganda


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  • Historical trajectories and prospective scenarios for collective land tenure reforms in community forest areas in Colombia

Historical trajectories and prospective scenarios for collective land tenure reforms in community forest areas in Colombia


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Collective land tenure in Colombia has been a constitutional right since 1991. It is therefore protected with the highest possible status, as it is defined as a fundamental right of indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples. This condition has contributed to the creation of legal instruments and public policy arrangements to help traditional communities ensure their livelihoods and protect their territorial autonomy, especially in vast forest areas. However, this recognition is not consistent across traditional peoples in Colombia. This study, based on the method proposed by Bourgeois et al. (2017), applies the participatory prospective analysis (PPA) method to four cases in Colombia: (i) the Supreme Community Council of the Upper San Juan River (ASOCASAN) (Chocó), in the Pacific; (ii) the Arhuaco indigenous resguardo in Sierra Nevada (Cesar); (iii) the Afro-Colombian community councils in Valledupar rural areas (Cesar); and (iv) the indigenous, Afro-Colombian and campesino communities in Montes de María region, in the Caribbean. The main results reflect the different levels of land tenure security in these locations, based on contextual environmental, political, economic and legal factors at both national and regional level. The study provides a set of public policy recommendations to enhance collective land tenure security, from concept development to implementation, with a special focus on the present moment, when the implementation of the Peace Agreement poses new challenges for the protection of forest ecosystems and the recognition of the territorial rights of ethnic groups and campesinos.

Access this publication in English.

Access this publication in Spanish.


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  • Promoting nature-based solutions for gender equality

Promoting nature-based solutions for gender equality


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Bamboo charcoal can be a lucrative source of income. Photo by INBAR

As a clean-burning source of energy in the home, and a lucrative means of income, bamboo is helping to bring income and social standing to women across the world.

For Gloria Adu, bamboo has brought big changes to her family. “Bamboo has done so much in my life. It has changed me completely. I’m so happy we now have women in the industry in my country.”

Gloria is from Ghana, a country where demand for fuelwood and charcoal accounts for around 70% of annual forest loss. During a training course facilitated by the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) in 2001, which she described as an “eye opener”, Gloria learned about several diverse types and uses of bamboo, and was taken on tours to see bamboo plantations, arts and crafts in different parts of China. The training course inspired Gloria to set up her own company. Global Bamboo Products Ltd. makes custom items on demand, and is now beginning to focus on the production of bamboo briquettes and charcoal.

In recent years, the company has gone from strength to strength. It now boasts a 300-hectare bamboo plantation and has won several local and international awards. Gloria has used Global Bamboo Products to teach other people: she estimates the company has trained some 400 people in alternative livelihood activities, and over 10,000 farmers in the cultivation, management, and primary processing of bamboo and bamboo charcoal. Gloria’s company is an example of what women can do with bamboo.

According to Gloria, “Bamboo charcoal is crucial for women.” The grass plant grows locally to many rural communities across the tropics and subtropics, and is often excluded from local forest protection laws. This means it can be harvested legally, within close proximity to a community. Converting bamboo to charcoal requires few set-up costs – some technologies even use converted oil barrels as kilns – and the resulting charcoal burns with little smoke, and has a similar calorific density to other commonly used forms of biomass.

These are not bamboo’s only benefits. Fast-growing, light and easy to process, cultures around the world have used bamboo for millennia as a source of housing, fodder, furniture and tools. Integrating bamboo into farming systems has been shown to improve yields and restore soil health. And products made from bamboo can fetch quite a price: rural households in parts of Africa can earn over US$1,000 a year from cultivating and converting bamboo into charcoal and other products.

Mira and her employees are now the primary breadwinners in their households, thanks to working in the lucrative bamboo incense stick sector. Photo by INBAR

Gloria is one of the many women who know that bamboo changes lives. Mira Das, a bamboo incense stick maker from West Tripura, India, describes a complete transformation in her family’s lifestyle: “Before training in the bamboo sticks business, our family income was meagre, and I had no rest or leave from my domestic support job.”

Following a training course in bamboo incense stick production by INBAR and the Centre for Indian Bamboo Resource and Technology (CIBART), Mira’s family has experienced “a huge increase in household income”, which has given them a sense of financial security. “Now, I have some savings in my account, and we use the additional amount to buy household assets: good clothes, a mobile phone, a gas stove.”

Earning an income from bamboo – often, for the first time – has other, less tangible benefits. According to Mira, running a small enterprise has developed her qualities as a leader – “it’s definitely helped me gain both a sustainable livelihood and more self-confidence.” In 2017, she gave a speech at a Kolkata summit on ‘Transforming Women’s Lives’.

And for Giraben, a bamboo furniture maker in Gujarat, India, the success of her bamboo company has given her “not just income, and but also respect. Now, members from our community and other communities have approached me for my advice on social matters, and my husband and I get invitations to social functions, festivals, cultural events and marriages.”

Encouraging women to use bamboo can go a long way to realising the UN’s fifth Sustainable Development Goal: achieving gender equality. Using bamboo gives women access to a potentially lucrative economic resource, and can help secure women a place in decision-making in political, economic and public life. Involving women in decisions about land use, forests and tree resources can also help create more sustainable development solutions, which makes it a key part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), in which INBAR is a partner.

At its most successful, the bamboo industry has produced some inspiring international women leaders. Cynthia Villar, another beneficiary of INBAR training, is now a senator in the Philippines and vocal supporter of bamboo’s potential; meanwhile Bernice Dapaah, executive director of Ghana Bamboo Bikes, has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader; and in China, the founder and CEO of bamboo tissue manufacturer Vanov, Shen Genlian, has shown how successful a women-led bamboo enterprise can become.

There are considerable obstacles to upscaling INBAR’s work to empower women to use bamboo. Aside from technology transfer and training, there are often systemic problems and socially entrenched marginalization which make it harder to sustain women-run enterprises. But this has not stopped many of the thousands of women who INBAR has trained.

A woman in a bamboo grove in Madagascar. Photo by Lou Yiping/INBAR

Approaches seeded by INBAR and a range of development partners include a collective of women’s self-help groups in India, which produce higher value-added incense stick products and have created 150,000 jobs, and an initiative in Tanzania that has created 100 bamboo nurseries, the creation of micro-enterprises, and training opportunities for some 1000 people in a specially-created Bamboo Training Center.

INBAR’s training programs also prioritize approaches that play to women’s strengths and skills in the production process – emphasizing design, for instance, which in many traditional societies is the responsibility of female producers, and focusing on technologies and techniques which can be used in the home. And INBAR has conducted research which focuses on structural barriers and drivers of gender change in tree-based and forested landscapes, as part of its partnership with FTA.

With more training, greater awareness, and the development of a vibrant bamboo and rattan economy, INBAR believes these plants can continue to create jobs, and independence, for women across our 44 Member states.


Originally published by INBAR. This article is based on a seminar on ‘Women, bamboo and rattan’ held at the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress in June 2018, as well as interviews conducted by The Centre for Indian Bamboo Resource and Technology (CIBART) in India.

INBAR is a strategic partner of FTA, 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. FTA’s gender research contributes to the development of tools, approaches, and measures that can support young men and women’s capacities, interests, and opportunities in natural resource management. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.


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  • Gender-blind climate action risks jeopardizing efficiency and long-term sustainability

Gender-blind climate action risks jeopardizing efficiency and long-term sustainability


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Women harvesting lemongrass. Photo by Chandra Shekhar Karki/CIFOR.
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Markus Ihalainen speaks on a panel hosted by ICRAF at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. Photo by Susan Onyango/ICRAF

Failing to address gender equality in forest- and tree-based climate initiatives can have negative implications for gender equity, while also potentially undermining the efficiency and sustainability of climate efforts, according to gender specialist Markus Ihalainen, speaking at recent UN climate talks.

Forested landscapes play a key role in all 1.5 degree pathways modelled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its recent report.

At the same time, they also provide many functions critical to adaptation, said Ihalainen a researcher with the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and its partner institution the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), at the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Katowice, Poland.

“The long-term success of the required land-use changes is ultimately dependent on the contributions of both women and men who are using those lands for their livelihoods,” Ihalainen said during a presentation in the UK “Green is Great” pavilion on the sidelines of the annual conference. “At the same time, interventions that do not take gender and other aspects of social diversity into account often risk adversely impacting marginalized groups.”

Read more: FTA at COP24

NETWORK GROWTH

Despite an increasing body of literature on the topic, forest policymakers often overlook gender considerations. However, gender blindness is a problem that makes women’s participation and contributions invisible and allows forest management to be incorrectly treated as “gender neutral.”

For example, while many Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) include forest-sector related targets, the majority of the 25 INDCs reviewed by CIFOR fail to mention gender or refer to it only superficially. Under the terms of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, INDCs establish guidelines intended to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius, to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and achieve net zero emissions in the second half of the 21st century.

A woman picks tea on a plantation in Gunung Halimun-Salak national park, Java, Indonesia. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR

Studies of women’s involvement in conservation programs have showed that inclusive processes could yield more equitable outcomes, while more inclusive forest user groups also tend to demonstrate better environmental performance, Ihalainen said, adding that such synergies must be built, not simply assumed.

Ihalainen referred to recent findings from CIFOR’s Global Comparative Study on REDD+. The first phase of the research, spanning across 16 pilot project sites in six countries, investigated community participation in Reducing Emissions from forest Degradation and Deforestation (REDD+) design and implementation.

The study found that women often participated far less than their male counterparts and, even when women participated, they often lacked the information and awareness of REDD+ needed for their participation to be effective.

Three years later, the research team returned to the same sites to assess the impact of REDD+ on subjectively defined wellbeing.

“Between phase one and phase two of the pilot projects there was a significant decline observed in the subjective wellbeing of the women in comparison to men in the same villages, as well as in comparison to women and men in control sites with no REDD+ intervention,” said Ihalainen, who also delivered a presentation at a session hosted by FTA partner institution the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

Read more: Global commitment growing for gender equality in climate action

While more work is needed on the specific causal mechanisms, combining the two datasets would suggest that the failure to meaningfully consider gender issues could be associated with a relative decline in women’s wellbeing.

But in addition to the potentially detrimental impact on gender equality, gender-blind climate action also risks jeopardizing efficiency and long-term sustainability. Ihalainen pointed to four areas where gender considerations are crucial.

Land tenure security is a critical incentive for long-term investments in sustainable landscape management practices, but in general, land rights and tenure security for women are weak. A study of women farmers study of women farmers in Ethiopia found that land insecure women were less likely to adopt sustainable agroforestry practices than men. However, when they had secure land tenure they were actually more likely than men to do so.

Resolving gender division of labor concerns can also be an incentive for more sustainable activities. Often, agroforestry practices and tree planting programs are reliant on women’s labor, but in many areas women do not have rights to trees when they grow.

A stream runs through Gunung Halimun-Salak National Park, Indonesia. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR

Weaker decision-making opportunities also put women at a disadvantage. For example, in Nepal, male-dominated forest user groups opted to protect valuable timber species, often benefitting men, while removing many food and medicinal plants as weeds.

A study in Vietnam revealed that most women preferred non-cash benefits from REDD+ projects. However, the programs were structured around cash payments, which were ultimately controlled by men.

In addition to reinforcing or even exacerbating gender inequalities, all of the aforementioned issues also serve as disincentives to women’s continued participation and contributions, ultimately jeopardizing the long-term sustainability of the environmental objectives.

Read more: Women left on sidelines of decisions about forest management

ACTIVE PARTICIPATION

“Addressing gender equality in landscape management allows people to make decisions about what happens in their lives and livelihoods and also increases the likelihood of successful climate action,” Ihalainen said. “However, synergies cannot just be assumed, it is important that they are built through gender analysis, robust data and proper planning. Tokenistic add-on approaches are not enough to safeguard women’s rights.”

Importantly, sectoral efforts to enhance gender equity in participation and benefit sharing, for instance, can be supported by broader efforts aimed at addressing gender equality.

Ihalainen offered an example from Nyandarua, Kenya, where the Kenya Forest Service leveraged the constitutional requirement to have a one third gender balance in all elected bodies to increase women’s participation in community forest associations.

Critically, efforts to enhance gender equity in program activities need to be complemented with measures and targets directed at addressing the structural causes of gender inequality. Considering gender equality and women’s empowerment as a goal in itself can also allow for identifying synergies between mitigation, adaptation and equality.

This is particularly important in the land sector, where mitigation efforts often need to co-exist alongside other land-use needs. Ihalainen offered an example from Burkina Faso, where CIFOR researchers compared a number of restoration options, including timber monocultures and shea parklands.

The team found that while timber monocultures demonstrated slightly higher carbon sequestration values, shea parklands – in addition to carbon storage – offered multiple cobenefits, including income-generation opportunities to women and enhanced household food security.

Ihalainen argued for the importance of climate policies and programs to complement process-related gender mainstreaming targets with progress-oriented indicators, aimed at addressing structural inequalities underlying differentiated vulnerabilities and capacities.

Many of these targets have already been identified and agreed upon in the UN Sustainable Development Goals framework. Formulating clear progress-related targets would also allow to hold policymakers, implementers and donors accountable for their impacts on gender equality, he said.

“This is why it is so important to make sure that references to human rights and gender equality feature prominently in the texts here in Katowice, where we are discussing the modalities of implementing, monitoring and reporting on the Paris Agreement,” Ihalainen added.

By Julie Mollins, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

For more information on this topic, please contact Markus Ihalainen at m.ihalainen@cgiar.org.


This work forms part of the Global Comparative Study on REDD+


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  • Women’s hidden harvest: the AmaXhosa women and traditional culture survival practices 

Women’s hidden harvest: the AmaXhosa women and traditional culture survival practices 


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Imifino expert Mama Nonethile Fosanda examines a leaf in Cwebe Forest, South Africa. Photo by R. Vernooy

On the occasion of International Day of Rural Women, Dr. Katie Tavenner takes us on a visual journey to Hobeni village with the photobook Women’s hidden harvest: Indigenous vegetables and amaXhosa cultural survival in Hobeni Village, South Africa.

Published by Bioversity International, the book is based on Tavenner’s research on rural women’s struggles to protect their traditional knowledge and harvesting, culinary and spiritual practices attached to imifino, known locally as “women’s vegetables”, in a protected area near the Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve.

Could you tell us how the idea for a photobook was born?

Ever since publishing my dissertation in 2016, I’ve wanted to tell the story of the AmaXhosa women’s struggle for cultural survival in a creative way, so that their experiences in protecting imifino could be more accessible. My research used a participatory photography approach, so telling the story through photographs that could bring the people and places of Hobeni to life seemed like a natural fit.

Read more: Women’s hidden harvest: Indigenous vegetables and amaXhosa cultural survival in Hobeni Village, South Africa

What is imifino, and what does it mean for the women you met?

Imifino is the IsiXhosa word used to describe green leafy vegetables that grow wild in forests, and in fallowed and cultivated fields. Considered weeds in many parts of the world, in Hobeni village imifino play an important nutritional role as a free and healthy food source. Imifino are special to women, who guard the traditional knowledge on plant identification, harvesting, and use in culinary traditions.

These plants also have importance in female cultural rites of passage. When young girls can independently collect imifino from the forest, they become women. Imifino knowledge and traditions came under threat when colonial and then apartheid authorities imposed a ban on harvesting natural resources from the nearby forest. Anyone caught harvesting inside the forest under the ban could be charged fines, taken to jail, and abused and harassed by park rangers. Remarkably, traditional imifino knowledge has endured through the stories, actions, and resistance of local women. 

You mention comanagement. Is it possible to protect these forest areas while acknowledging women’s traditions?

For more than a century, colonial and apartheid-era governments forcibly removed Hobeni residents from the forest in the name of ‘environmental protection’. The communities won a land claim battle over the forest in 2001 and a comanagement forestry agreement was signed. It has, however, not been implemented and recent attempts by the parks board and local community to enter into a comanagement agreement have not been successful due to disagreements and delays. A wire fence still surrounds the forest, and local people do not have secure access rights to resources, including a variety of forest foods. 

To protect the sociocultural heritage around imifino, there needs to be a shift in the conservationist thinking of authorities and equitable relations between them and the communities who use local natural resources must be established. Management should respect the AmaXhosa system of resource use and integrate women’s indigenous knowledge into forest management plans, because allowing forest harvesting can restore the full cycle of plant knowledge and use. The park rangers and local management I spoke with are ready and helpful, but leadership is needed at the national-level management system to legally uphold the prioritization of sociocultural traditions in environmental protection.  

What would you like for the readers of this book to be the most important take-away message?

Two imifino experts and lifelong friends, Nonethile Fosanda and Nothintsile Nyalambisa, walk alongside the Mbashe River in Hobeni village. Photo by K. Tavenner

Imifino are an important forest food resource for the Hobeni community that provides special connections between young and old women and their traditional AmaXhosa culture – connections that are in grave danger of being broken forever if access rights are not secured long-term.

Denied access to natural resources at the Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve means grave cultural, economic, and spiritual losses for the Hobeni community. The erosion of women’s local ecological knowledge of forest foods has resulted in lower rates of consumption and availability for rituals and cultural practices.

As a cultural symbol of a girl’s journey to womanhood, a traditional culinary dish, and a nutritional resource, the continued use of imifino is critical to maintaining the system of indigenous knowledge bound to the resource. Now is the time to recognize women’s knowledge in the management of plant biodiversity to ensure this cycle endures. 

Read also: Restoration initiatives must consider how gender relations shape control over land

Are you hopeful for positive change for the women and girls in Hobeni village?

The cultural survival of the traditions surrounding imifino is now in the hands of a few dedicated and resilient elderly experts. However, there is not much time left: Immediate interventions supported by national-level conservation bodies and local NGOs are needed to ensure these cultural traditions and the associated knowledge system will not disappear forever. This book is a testament to Hobeni women’s and girls’ strength in keeping their traditions alive despite considerable challenges. These women will continue to actively protest and resist current management policies at great personal risk and fight laws that deny their cultural rights and responsibilities. It is my hope that this book spreads their message to a wider audience, and that their message is received and heeded by those in power. 

By Giulia Micheletti, Bioversity International.


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund. 


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  • Gender equality and forest landscape restoration infobriefs

Gender equality and forest landscape restoration infobriefs


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Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) aims to achieve ecological integrity and enhance human well-being in deforested or degraded landscapes. Evidence shows that addressing gender equality and women’s rights is critical for addressing this dual objective. Against this backdrop, CIFOR and a number of partners hosted a Global Landscapes Forum workshop on FLR and gender equality in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2017. The objective of the workshop was to identify and discuss experiences, opportunities and challenges to advancing gender-responsive FLR in East African countries, as well as to join together various stakeholders working at the interface of gender and FLR as a community of practice. This brief set is a tangible outcome of this collaboration, featuring a number of useful lessons and recommendations rooted in the experience and expertise of partners in civil society, multilateral organizations, research community and private sector – all working in different ways to enhance the gender-responsiveness of restoration efforts.

Brief 1: Enhancing effectiveness of forest landscape programs through gender-responsive actions

Brief 2: Role of capital in enhancing participation of women in commercial forestry: A case study of the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) project in Uganda

Brief 3: The impacts of gender-conscious payment models on the status of women engaged in micro-forestry on the Kenyan coast

Brief 4: Mobilizing indigenous and local knowledge for successful restoration

Brief 5: Gender-responsive Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM): Engendering national forest landscape restoration assessments 

Brief 6: Enhancing Women’s Participation in Forestry Management Using Adaptive Collaborative Management: The Case of Mbazzi Farmers Association, Mpigi District Uganda

Brief 7: What women and men want: Considering gender for successful, sustainable land management programs: Lessons learned from the Nairobi Water Fund

Brief 8: Understanding landscape restoration options in Kenya: Risks and opportunities for advancing gender equality

Brief 9: Building farmer organisations’ capacity to collectively adopt agroforestry and sustainable agriculture land management practices in Lake Victoria Basin


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  • Menanam Pohon di Bukit Batu (Planting trees on a stony hill)

Menanam Pohon di Bukit Batu (Planting trees on a stony hill)


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Buku panduan bergambar dan berceritaini merupakan sebuah alat sederhana untuk menyampaikan pesan dari hasil-hasil dokumentasiyang perlu diketahui khalayak banyak. Substansi buku ini berasal dari hasilpendokumentasian pengetahuan lokal dan gender serta kegiatan pelatihan daripetani ke petani yang dilakukan di Kecamatan Haharu, Sumba Timur, Nusa TenggaraTimur. Kondisi alam di tanah Haharu unik dengan dominasi padang sabana dantanah berbatu. Tidak hanya menjadi (semi) panduan yang berguna untuk penyuluhdan petani penyuluh, buku ini menjadi bahan bacaan untuk anak-anak sekolahdasar maupun tingkat menengah yang berpotensi untuk mengembangkan modelpengelolaan sumber daya alam yang sesuai dengan kondisi alam setempat. Penyusunanpanduan bergambar dan bercerita ini dimaksudkan untuk meningkatkan minat bacamasyarakat, mengingat budaya masyarakat yang lebih banyak mendengar danberbicara daripada membaca. Khasanah pengetahuan lokal khas Sumba Timur iniperlu diketahui masyarakat luas, terutama para pihak yang berkenan mendukungprogram pembangunan yang masih sangat diperlukan untuk meningkatkan penghidupandan kehidupan masyarakat Sumba Timur.


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  • Playing a bigger role in global monitoring of SDGs

Playing a bigger role in global monitoring of SDGs


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Women take part in a mapping workshop in Nyangania, Ghana. Photo by Axel Fassio/CIFOR

UN Women’s 2018 flagship report on gender and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offers a framework to monitor each of the 17 SDGs from a gender perspective, and takes stock of their performance to date. 

The report calls for greater collaboration between researchers, governments and women’s organizations to realize the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, gender coordinator for the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) gender scientist, recently published a brief evaluating the report.

In this second installment of a two-part series, she analyzes the report and its implications for the CGIAR gender research community, reflecting upon entry points for CGIAR to respond to this call.

According to Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, gender specific Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 5, and the mainstreaming of gender across the 17 other goals, is evidence that: “gender equality is a goal in its own right and a powerful force for upholding the main promise of the 2030 Agenda: to leave no one behind” (UN Women 2018, 2).

However, in its newly released flagship report monitoring each SDG from a gender and social inclusion perspective, UN Women finds that only six out of the 17 goals are gender sensitive (SDGs 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 16); five goals are gender sparse (SDGs 2, 19, 11, 13 and 17) and the remaining six are gender blind (SDGs 6, 7, 9, 12, 14 and 15). The available gender data presents gaps. There is inadequate investment and funding for additional or quality data collection. Data collection methodologies (e.g. censuses, labor surveys) present deep biases which prevent them from collecting reliable, gender disaggregated data.

Read more: What’s in it for gender researchers when it comes to UN Women’s gender and SDGs report?

According to the report, such monitoring is essential to: translate global commitments to results; offer space for public debate and democratic decision-making; determine each stakeholder’s (governments, citizens, civil society organizations, private sector) roles and responsibilities and strengthen accountability for actions or omissions (UN Women 2018, 24-25).

As a reminder, UN Women calls for greater and concerted effort among governments, researchers and women’s rights organizations to realize the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. How so? By tracking progress against the goals, identifying achievements and gaps, and highlighting implementation challenges and opportunities.

As a global collective focusing on agriculture and natural resource management research in multiple countries and contexts across Africa, Asia and Latin America, the CGIAR gender research community is uniquely positioned to contribute to such endeavors.

In this blog, I reflect upon how the CGIAR gender research community can contribute more significantly towards future global efforts to monitor the SDGs from a gender and social inclusion perspective. This is the second part of a two-tier blog, the first of which unpacks the report and highlights its strengths and limitations.

Read more: UN Women’s evaluation of gender in the SDGs – What’s the role for the CGIAR?

A team works together during a REDD+ workshop in Peru. Photo by Marlon del Aguila Guerrero/CIFOR

Limited contribution of CGIAR gender researchers and research publications

The UN Women report does not significantly showcase CGIAR gender researchers and research publications. This is remarkable, considering the impressive number of academics, practitioners and policy makers, both within and outside the United Nations system, who have played a role as team members in writing the report, background paper authors, advisory members and reviewers. The report also features a comprehensive reference list combining both foundational and recent publications.

A quick search through the report returned only one CGIAR gender researcher (Sophia Huyer), acknowledged for her contribution as a report reviewer. Prominent CGIAR gender researchers are scarcely referenced: Cheryl Doss is referenced twice; Agnes Quisumbing once; Carol Colfer, Cynthia McDougall, Lone Badstue, Anne Larson, Esther Mwangi, Margreet Zwarteveen and Paula Kantor receive no mention. All of these authors are among CGIAR gender researchers who have contributed high quality publications on topics that are relevant to SDGs from a gender perspective – i.e. poverty, food security, inequality, land and water.

That said, direct participation of researchers and/or citation of their work may not be an effective way of measuring CGIAR research’s influence. Although Ruth Meinzen-Dick is not directly cited in the report, one of her well-recognized arguments that women’s land rights must be measured in terms of a ‘bundle of rights[1], Meizen-Dick et al. 2014; Meizen-Dick et al. 2018; Ribot and Peluso 2003) is included, under the sub-section on ‘Spotlight on women’s equal rights to land’ (111).

As a gender researcher from CIFOR, working on FTA, I was particularly drawn to the report’s coverage on SDG 15 – ‘Life on Land’. One of CIFOR and FTA’s flagship publications on the gender dimensions of palm oil expansion in West Kalimantan, Indonesia (Li 2014, 2018) is featured as Case Study Box 3.3. This publication also contributes to the report’s broader argument that SDG implementation cannot be left to the private sector, and that governments need to drive the agenda, with civil society organizations supporting these efforts and holding government representatives to account.

However, the CIFOR study is (mis)presented in a way that pits local women against men. The report wrongly suggests that the deforestation and dispossession resulting from palm oil expansion in West Kalimantan have harmed local women and benefitted local men. The differentiated effects of palm oil expansion on diverse categories of women (painstakingly documented in the CIFOR publication) are not mentioned at all. This is unfortunate, given that Chapter 3 (‘Moving beyond averages’) examines the intersection between gender and other social difference axes in order to get to the roots of marginalization.

Suggestions and future: ‘strategic entry points’ and ‘getting house in order’

The CGIAR gender community could intervene in various areas.

CGIAR research can be leveraged to monitor against multiple SDGs. CGIAR research programs indeed focus on climate action (SDG 13), water (SDG 6), land and forests (SDG 15), fisheries (SDG 11) and energy (SDG 7). And all CGIAR research programs share Poverty (SDG 1), food security (SDGs 2 and 3), inequalities (SDG 10), employment and livelihoods (SDG 8) as cross-cutting concerns.

Guidance notes and training products developed by CGIAR gender researchers can be used to transform existing data collection methods to better capture lived realities of women. This could include the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets’ ‘Standards for collecting sex-disaggregated data’ (Doss and Kieran 2014); FTA’s ‘Practical tips for conducting gender responsive data collection’ (Elias et al. 2014); and the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems’  publications on measuring gender transformative change (Hillenbrand et al. 2015).

Women from the Mattu community of practice harvest cow pea leaves. Photo by Ake Mamo/ICRAF

Innovative, cross-CGIAR research methodologies (such as the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) and GENNOVATE) and their research results can complement the data presented.

Emerging research on intersectionality can help better target policies and efforts.

Current data collection and collation initiatives (including through the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture) may help identify broader patterns of gender inequalities and reform opportunities.

CGIAR gender researchers could play a role in generating synergies between SDGs and other global initiatives, such as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) among others.

CGIAR gender researchers may also consider different ways of working so as to play a more prominent role in the 2030 Agenda, for example through:

  • Actively seizing opportunities to inform future reports, including through a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN Women team that produces such reports;
  • Capitalizing on relationships with governmental agencies, national statistics offices, and women’s organizations in the countries where we operate, so that we are routinely consulted on national efforts to monitor the SDGs;
  • Demonstrating how our current research contributes to the SDGs, through mapping if, to what extent, and how CGIAR gender research contributes to each of the SDGs;
  • Going beyond binary analyses of ‘women versus men’ to also account for differences within groups of women and men — and broadening our gaze to consider disabilities, sexuality and masculinities in CGIAR gender research;
  • Moving beyond the confines of our specific sectors (agriculture, forestry, water) or commodities (rice, maize etc.) to inform cross-sectoral and national/regional/global efforts;
  • Consolidating and harmonizing our research, research methodologies and findings to have a bigger voice and effect.

In summary, the CGIAR community is uniquely situated to respond to UN Women’s request for greater collaboration among researchers, governments and women’s organizations to realize the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. As our first step in that direction, the CGIAR community could prioritize CGIAR-wide deliberations as to if and how they could play a more meaningful role. This blog contribution offers some ‘food for thought’ for embarking on such a deliberation.

By Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, originally published by the CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research

[1] comprising documented ownership, ability/right to sell land and ability/right to bequeath land to others.


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  • What do gender norms, innovation and trees have to do with each other?

What do gender norms, innovation and trees have to do with each other?


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Women prepare lunch in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Augusta/CIFOR

Gender researchers present findings from Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan that shed light on how gender norms shape, and are influenced by, forest and tree-based innovation processes.

A new report based on case studies from the GENNOVATE: Enabling gender equality in agricultural and environmental innovation comparative qualitative research initiative presents findings from Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan that shed light on how gender norms shape, and are influenced by, forest and tree-based innovation processes.

An estimated 1.6 billion people live in and around and depend in part or in full from forests for their livelihoods and well-being. Yet, the benefits from forests, trees and agroforests are unequally distributed across communities based on the gender, socioeconomic status, generation or age, and other social characteristics of their members. These inequalities make it even more difficult for already disadvantaged groups to benefit from new opportunities and innovations in agriculture and natural resource management (NRM).

Innovation processes related to agricultural and NRM — whether centered on technologies (e.g. hybrid seed or mechanization) or institutions (e.g. new knowledge applied to NRM or ways of organizing production) — can reduce some of these inequalities, or they can exacerbate them. And gender norms, or the social ‘rules’ that determine appropriate behaviour for men and women, that maintain these inequalities can hinder women’s capacities to innovate. For example, norms that pose constraints on women’s mobility or labour or that make it socially inappropriate for women farmers to interact with men extension agents in some contexts, can make it difficult for them to try out and adopt new practices.

The report, whose co-authors are from Bioversity International, University of Brighton, CIFOR, and University of Indonesia, contributes to the GENNOVATE comparative study.

Rural livelihoods worldwide are changing

This is due to various factors, including migration, new markets, and new agricultural and NRM technologies, institutions, and practices. The newly released report Understanding gendered innovation processes in forest landscapes: Case studies from Indonesia and Kyrgyz Republic highlights how gender norms as well as local women’s and men’s agency (the ability to make and act upon decisions that shape the direction of one’s life) influence how forest dwellers experience these processes.

In Indonesia, commercial investments in oil palm offer some new wage work opportunities, but supplant other forms of livelihoods and access to resources. In Kyrgyzstan, new opportunities and challenges are emerging because of the country’s integration into a market economy and because of changes in forest tenure (ownership and access) regimes. In both countries, these changes have uneven effects for women and men, young and old, richer and poorer community members; and these different groups have unequal abilities to try out, adopt, or adapt innovations. The report highlights the importance of considering and addressing those differences and their underlying causes in project design and implementation.

The study finds that gender norms affect men’s and women’s agency and capacities and priorities for innovation. Photo by M. Elias/Bioversity International

Some of the main findings of the report are that:

  • Gender norms affect men’s and women’s agency and capacities and priorities for innovation
  • Gender norms influence who has access to information, decision-making power, and land, labour and capital. As these typically favour (better off and older) men, while women — and particularly those disadvantaged by their ethnicity or caste, socioeconomic status, generation or age, or marital status — are less able to take advantage of what new opportunities may arise
  • Gender norms and innovation interact dynamically, and both shift over time and place. Gender roles, rights and responsibilities can be renegotiated because of innovations that change what it means to be a woman or a man in a given environment.

In light of these findings, how can we better support men’s and women’s ability to lead the lives that hold value to them?

The authors argue for gender-responsive and transformative initiatives that can equitably support men’s and women’s capacities to learn about, engage in, and lead innovation processes. To achieve this, they suggest:

  • Supporting women’s collectives that can work towards changes in gender norms that disadvantage women
  • Including men in interventions that seek to promote gender equality, to harness their support
  • Recognizing the diversity that exists among men and among women, and adopting strategies that can support differentiated groups of women and men according to their own priorities and circumstances
  • Capitalizing on ongoing changes in gender norms caused by many drivers of change (e.g. the formal schooling of girls, new policies, institutions and markets, etc.) and creating a dialogue around them to support greater gender equality
  • Supporting a critical mass of champions for change acting as role models to bring about transformations in livelihoods and gender norms
  • Carefully monitoring and mitigating possible forms of exclusion that can arise from innovation processes, which can reproduce inequalities.

Read the report: Understanding gendered innovation processes in forest-based landscapes: Case studies from Indonesia and Kyrgyz Republic

By Giulia Micheletti and Marlène Elias, originally published by Bioversity International.

For more information, contact Marlène Elias.


This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.


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  • Gendered aspirations and occupations among rural youth, in agriculture and beyond: A cross-regional perspective

Gendered aspirations and occupations among rural youth, in agriculture and beyond: A cross-regional perspective


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Based on 25 case studies from the global comparative study ‘GENNOVATE: Enabling gender equality in agricultural and environmental innovation’, this paper explores rural young women’s and men’s occupational aspirations and trajectories in India, Mali, Malawi, Morocco, Mexico, Nigeria, and the Philippines. We draw upon qualitative data from 50 sex-segregated focus groups with the youth to show that across the study’s regional contexts, young rural women and men predominantly aspire for formal blue and white-collar jobs. Yet, they experience an aspiration- achievement gap, as the promise of their education for securing the formal employment they seek is unfulfilled, and they continue to farm in their family’s production. Whereas some young men aspired to engage in knowledge-intensive or ‘modern’ agriculture, young women did not express any such interest. Framing our analysis within a relational approach, we contend that various gender norms that discriminate against women in agriculture dissuade young women from aspiring for agriculture-related occupation. We discuss the gendered opportunity spaces of the study sites, the meanings these hold for allowing young women and men to achieve their aspirations and catalyze agricultural innovation, and implications for agricultural policies and research for development. Our findings show that youth and gender issues are inextricably intertwined and cannot be understood in isolation one from the other.


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  • Landscape Restoration in Kenya: Addressing gender equality

Landscape Restoration in Kenya: Addressing gender equality


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Unlocking the potential of forest landscape restoration (FLR) to achieve both social and environmental outcomes rests critically on the support, contributions and cooperation of a wide range of stakeholders at all levels, including women and men. In Kenya, the government has committed to restoring 5.1 million hectares of land by 2030. At the same time, Kenya’s commitment to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment is enshrined in its Constitution, various national laws and policies as well as international conventions, including the Sustainable Development Goal framework. The purpose of this study was to provide empirically grounded lessons on opportunities and challenges for addressing gender in landscape restoration in Kenya, as well as to share recommendations for making sure Kenya’s ambitious restoration efforts do not repeat the mistakes of past gender-blind restoration initiatives, but make sure both women and men are able to enjoy the opportunities and benefits generated through landscape restoration.


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  • What’s in it for gender researchers when it comes to UN Women’s gender and SDGs report?

What’s in it for gender researchers when it comes to UN Women’s gender and SDGs report?


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A woman and her father-in-law pick up a permit to collect fuelwood in the Chisapani Community Forest, Nepal. Photo by Chandra Shekhar Karki/CIFOR

UN Women’s 2018 flagship report on gender and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offers a framework to monitor each of the 17 SDGs from a gender perspective, and takes stock of their performance to date. 

In a two-part series, Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, gender coordinator for the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) gender scientist, analyzes the report and its implications for the CGIAR gender research community. Sijapati Basnett recently published a brief evaluating this role.

With this article, she reviews the strengths and limitations of the UN Women report – Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – for gender researchers wishing to contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The highest echelons of the United Nations have hailed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as “a victory for gender equality” [1]. Concerns are mounting, however, over how the SDGs will be interpreted and implemented, and whether they will make a difference to the lives of women and girls the world over.

The UN Women 2018 flagship report offers a framework to monitor each of the 17 SDGs from a gender and social inclusion perspective, and it takes stock of that performance to date.

The report calls for greater collaboration among governments, researchers and women’s rights organizations to realize the 2030 Agenda. How? By tracking progress against the goals, identifying achievements and gaps, and highlighting implementation challenges and opportunities.

Read more: UN Women’s evaluation of gender in the SDGs – What’s the role for the CGIAR?

KEY MESSAGES 

Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development

The report makes a strong case for leveraging data, evidence and analysis, to inform the duties and performance standards of those in positions of power, and to help assess compliance and enforcement of sanctions and remedies where required.

“The ultimate test for the 2030 Agenda will be whether the SDGs are achieved by 2030” (43).

The report’s excellent assessment of the current ‘Global Indicator Framework for the Sustainable Development Goals’ offers strategic entry points for CGIAR (and/or gender researchers outside of CGIAR) to address current limitations in data, methods and analyses. The Global Indicator Framework comprises 232 indicators to track and monitor progress against the SDGs. The Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development is the inter-governmental body responsible for developing and providing technical support for implementation of the framework. The UN Women report also offers conceptual, methodological and policy directions for future CGIAR research.

Some key messages and highlights from the report are listed below.

Strategic entry points

Although gender equality matters to all 17 goals, the current Global Indicator Framework is inadequate for gender responsive monitoring of the SDGs because:

  • Only six of the 17 SDG goals are gender sensitive (SDGs 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 16); five goals are gender sparse (SDG 2, 19, 11, 13 and 17) and the remaining six are gender blind (SDGs 6, 7, 9, 12, 14 and 15).
  • The available gender data presents gaps.
  • There is inadequate investment and funding for additional or quality data collection.
  • Data collection methodologies present deep biases (e.g. censuses, labor surveys).

Upon assessing all 54 gender-specific indicators and analyzing one indicator per goal in detail to illustrate progress, gaps and challenges to date, the report calls for: “serious analytical work that sharpens our understanding of how to capture, measure and monitor meaningful change for women and girls” (73).

The report suggests this gap is particularly clear in new and emerging areas, such as understanding the gender implications of climate change.

Commitment to intersectionality

The report highlights that focusing on women as a group is insufficient to measure progress. Gender inequalities only acquire meaning and significance when they interact and intersect with other social relations. Many women and girls face multiple forms of discrimination – e.g. accessing resources, services and opportunities – based on aspects of their identity that differentiate them from more advantaged groups. It is critical to move beyond averages and to identify and compare how the most marginalized fare on key well-being markers in relation to other groups.

Through four country study summaries (see Chapter 3), the report shows how average aggregate figures on women’s wellbeing often mask significant variations across regions, ethnic, racial and income groups. This is a considerable departure from previous reports that had given lip service to ‘differences among women’ and treated women as a group (UN Women 2014; Asher and Sijapati Basnett 2016).

This is also the first time that a high-profile global report has engaged seriously with feminist concerns with ‘intersectionality’ in a substantial way. While intersectionality has long been considered a ‘gold standard’ for analyzing experiences of identity and oppression in feminist and gender theories, scholars have been concerned that ‘gender’ and ‘gender inequalities’ are simplified, both in policy and practice (Nash 2008; Arora-Jonsson 2014; Ihalainen et al. 2016; Colfer et al. 2018).

Read also: Making sense of ‘intersectionality’: A manual for lovers of people and forests

Spotlight on structural barriers to gender equality 

The report devotes two chapters to structural barriers to gender equality: eliminating all forms of violence against women (Chapter 5); and addressing unpaid care and domestic work (Chapter 6). The Millennium Development Goals, predecessors to the SDGs, were heavily criticized for omitting these dimensions of inequality (see Razavi 2016, Chant and Sweetman 2012, Kabeer 2003).

Chapter 6 of the report highlights that women perform the vast majority of unpaid and care work across the world. The distribution of such work remains the same, despite women increasingly joining the labor force through formal employment.

Policies and interventions aimed at empowering women economically (e.g. through greater involvement in value chains, financial literacy and new livelihood opportunities) must go hand in hand with initiatives to reduce women’s paid and unpaid work burdens, recognize their work and redistribute it within the family, as well as among families and wider institutions.

Policies and accountability

The report clearly highlights what actions are needed, as well as who should be responsible for implementation and accountable for action/inaction. It suggests that governments should prioritize universal systems that are financed and used by everyone, and simultaneously target efforts towards ensuring access for historically excluded groups. This approach offers a stance on a long-standing debate within social policy on ‘universal’ or ‘targeted policies’ for addressing poverty reduction and social inequalities (see Mkandawire 2005).

The report also highlights that governments are primarily responsible for implementation, because other actors cannot be held accountable in the way that governments can (see Chandhoke 2003). The report seeks to temper current enthusiasm around the private sector’s role in realizing the SDGs, drawing attention to the fact that private businesses are not yet bound by any global set of rules on business and human rights, and their actions do not always align with objectives of sustainable development and gender equality (Kabeer 2017).

PITFALLS AND LIMITATIONS 

A couple in a peatland area in Indonesia. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR

The report also presents pitfalls and limitations from a methodological, conceptual and policy application perspective.

Methodologically, the report mainly privileges quantitative methods over qualitative and mixed methods. The risk here is to imply that any research seeking to monitor the 2030 Global Agenda must comply with pre-existing national datasets (such as national census data and demographic health, labor and living standard measurement surveys) rather than additionally taking advantage of the wide variety of other research available.

Conceptually, Chapter 3 on ‘Moving beyond the averages’ provides only lip service to the risks of using pre-existing categories to identify who the marginalized are and what sustains their marginalization. The chapter does not adequately consider the reality that ‘targeting the poor and the marginalized’ is an inherently political and contested process. Likewise, it presents just one methodological approach (the ‘inter-categorical approach’, see McCall 2015 or Colfer et al. 2018) for examining the intersection between gender and other axes of social difference.

Chapter 6 on ‘Unpaid and care work’ demonstrates this report was written by a committee of writers who do not always write with one voice; this makes the report lack coherence in many places. As such, while most of the chapters point to knowledge and data gaps, Chapter 6 reads more like a definitive guide on how to address women’s unpaid work and care burdens. Likewise, the report’s overall stance against the private sector or corporations is rather dogmatic, and does not offer a realistic way of engaging with them and/or holding their actions to account.

On the question of the potential impact of such reports, the report was published by UN Women rather than by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development or the UN Statistical Commission for the Global Monitoring of 169 SDG Targets. It is therefore unclear whether (and if so, how) the analyses and recommendations offered by the report will inform broader SDG monitoring efforts. Given the global scope of the report, the findings only provide broad brushstrokes of key challenges and opportunities. They must be validated through national and locally relevant monitoring, too.

Despite these limitations and the subsequent need to interpret it with caution, the report is an impressive first attempt at taking stock of performance against each SDG from a gender and social inclusion perspective. It also calls for more concerted SDG monitoring efforts by different actors, including research organizations.

In an upcoming article, I will outline how CGIAR can play a meaningful role in contributing to future efforts to monitor SDGs from a gender and social inclusion perspective.

By Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, originally published by the CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research

Notes: [1] Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in UN Women 2018, 18


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  • UN Women’s evaluation of gender in the SDGs: What'’s the role for the CGIAR?

UN Women’s evaluation of gender in the SDGs: What’’s the role for the CGIAR?


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  • The UN Women’s 2018 report on gender equality within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development underscores the importance of monitoring the SDGs in order to: translate global commitment to results, foster public debate and democratic decision-making, and strengthen accountability for actions or omissions.
  • The report serves to demonstrate the inadequacies of the current Global Indicator Framework for gender responsive monitoring of the SDGs. It highlights that women and girls face multiple forms of disadvantage and calls for recognizing, redistributing and reducing the paid and unpaid burdens women face, so as to overcome structural barriers to gender equality.
  • The CGIAR gender research community is uniquely positioned to contribute by tracking progress against the goals, identifying achievements and gaps, and highlighting implementation challenges. However, the report does not significantly showcase CGIAR gender research and research publications.
  • Looking forwards, the CGIAR can play a bigger role in the 2030 Agenda by leveraging its globally comparative, high-impact and innovative research to contribute to global and national efforts to monitor the SDGs. This will necessitate seizing opportunities to inform future reports as well as consolidating and harmonizing our research and findings to have a bigger voice and effect.

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  • Fit for purpose? A review of guides for gender-equitable value chain development

Fit for purpose? A review of guides for gender-equitable value chain development


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This article presents a review of seven guides for gender-equitable value chain development (VCD). The guides advocate persuasively the integration of gender into VCD programming and raise important issues for designing more inclusive interventions. However, gaps persist in their coverage of gender-based constraints in collective enterprises, the influence of norms on gender relations, and processes to transform inequitable relations through VCD. Guidance for field implementation and links to complementary value chain tools are also limited. The article identifies opportunities for conceptual and methodological innovation to address the varying roles, needs, and aspirations of women and men in VCD.


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  • Understanding gendered innovation processes in forest-based landscapes: Case studies from Indonesia and Kyrgyz Republic

Understanding gendered innovation processes in forest-based landscapes: Case studies from Indonesia and Kyrgyz Republic


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An estimated 1.6 billion people depend in part or in full on forests and trees outside forests for their livelihoods. Yet, there are important inequities in the distribution of the benefits forests, trees, and agroforests yield to local people. Gender relations and norms, as fundamental organizing structures across cultures and societies, contribute to shaping the opportunities and constraints of women and men in these (agro)forests, and their ability to benefit from, and contribute to, positive development and environmental change processes. Drawing on data from Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan, this report focuses on how gender norms and agency shape innovation processes in forest, tree, and agroforestry landscapes. The capacity to creatively adapt and innovate to build resilience through natural resource-based livelihood practices is unevenly distributed amongst men, women and young people within communities, and may be constrained by shrinking opportunities in the context of wider structural economic and environmental changes. This aim of this report is to provide a better understanding of how men and women might be supported in exercising their agency in pursuing livelihood goals, independently or with others, in the context of rapidly transforming forest and tree-based landscapes.

The case studies reported here form part of ‘GENNOVATE: Enabling gender equality through agricultural and environmental innovation’; a qualitative comparative research initiative engaging 11 of the Phase I CGIAR Research Programs to examine the gender dimensions of innovations – new agricultural and natural resource management technologies, institutions, and practices. Despite significant historical, socio-political and environmental differences, the five case studies in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, and the case from southwest Kyrgyzstan exhibit pronounced and rapid changes in the relationship between people and forests. Both country contexts are marked by shifts in the relationship between rural and urban livelihood opportunities, forest livelihoods increasingly linked to migration and remittances, and commodification processes intensifying people’s integration into tree-based value chains. In the Indonesia cases, recent transformation is being driven by large scale commercial oil palm investment, which is bringing new wage work opportunities, whilst displacing other forms of livelihoods and resource access. In Kyrgyzstan, integration into the market economy and changing forest tenure regimes are resulting in new opportunities and challenges for different groups of forest dwellers.


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