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Women’s effective participation to build an equal future (Vol. 5, Issue 1)

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FTA communications

Today we celebrate the 8th of March, International Women’s Day. It is a moment reflect on the progress made and multiply our actions to achieve an ambitious vision of gender equality, critical to the well-being of humanity and the planet we inhabit. We know that despite many efforts worldwide, gender equality is still far from being a reality. This is true not only in some professional areas, geographies, or in the home, but across all areas of life globally. For instance, the recently released UN Secretary-General’s report underlines, among many other considerations, the great gender gap in public sector decision-making positions: there are currently only 22 women Heads of State or Government, and only 24.9% of national parliamentarians are women, globally. Things are even worse if we zoom into the decision-makers steering the response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. An analysis of COVID-19 task forces from 87 countries revealed that only 3.5% of these had gender parity; a particularly stark reality considering that women represent at least 70% of the workforce in the health sector.

The imbalance is not only unjust towards women, but it has repercussions on everyone, leaving Governments unable to respond adequately and holistically to global challenges. Unequal decisional power translates in decisions that are less inclusive and relevant to the needs and interests of some segments of society, and thereby in worse societal outcomes. One needs not only think about COVID-19, similar considerations apply decision-making pertaining to climate change, biodiversity loss, sustainable development, education, conflict resolutions, ethics, and so on. This is why this year’s IDW theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” focuses on the critical need of supporting women’s right to decision-making and having women leaders, while also honoring the fundamental role of women and girls all over the world in shaping a more equal future; contributions often made from disadvantaged situations.

Social structures that shape asymmetric gender dynamics have been a focus of FTA’s research since the program’s inception. When drafting its renewed Gender Action Plan in 2019, FTA reinstated equal participation as one of its key focus research areas. A recent news article also recalls how FTA contributed to make two UN processes more gender-responsive. In the FTA 2020 Science Conference, one of the technical workstreams dealt with inclusive governance for sustainable landscapes, concentrating discussions on decision-making at the intersection of policy and practice, together with the institutions that support or obstruct inclusion, transparency and accountability in decision-making processes. FTA also substantially re-oriented its work on sustainable value chains to focus on social inclusion and especially gender issues, as testified in the value-chains, finance and investment session of the FTA conference. It was an occasion to highlight the significant research FTA is conducting in this domain, which surfaces pressing challenges as well as possible solutions and strategies to address them.

Unequal gender norms and social structures limit women’s genuine participation and influence, and lead to their overall underrepresentation, in landscape and value chains governance. As we’ve emphasized in a previous newsletter, the COVID-19 crisis has brought a double burden on forest-dependent and rural women, who need to fight on two fronts: they are the first exposed to the socio-economic repercussion of the COVID-19 response and at the same time expected to lead the charge in enhancing their households’ and communities’ resilience.

As a research program, it is our role to investigate and contribute to the strong evidence that women’s equal and effective participation is a key to unlocking solutions to the many environmental and socio-economic crisis humanity faces, and to advance sustainable development and embed justice into the fabric of our societies. For all and for women, let’s use this moment of crisis not to “build back better” but to “build forward better”.

Vincent Gitz, FTA Director and Marlène Elias, FTA Gender coordinator

Special feature

Inclusive governance for sustainable landscapes – all material from the FTA 2020 Science Conference now available!

imagethumb.jpgFrom 14 to 25 September 2020, FTA ran its fully digital decadal conference, titled “Forest, trees and agroforestry science for transformational change”. It drew more than 520 participants from 69 countries around the world, featuring close to 200 interventions from scientists involved in the FTA program. One of the 6 technical workstreams of the conference, one focused on inclusive governance for sustainable landscapes, with 3 sessions:

  1. Participatory processes in landscape governance and management
  2. Land and forest tenure: implications for sustainable management and inclusion
  3. Landscape and jurisdictional approaches for governance and sustainability

See all workstream contributions and keynote here.


FTA research and engagement inform biodiversity and climate change policies

imagethumb.jpgFTA scientists are collaborating with a network of organizations that have been pushing for more gender-responsive policies for years. Among this constellation of actors, the role of FTA scientists is to bring empirical evidence to the table. Read how FTA influenced some key policy processes.

11 February was International Day of Women & Girls in Science

imagethumb.jpgThis year’s international day of women and girls in science (11 February 2021) focused on the role of women scientists at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. FTA acknowledges both the important role of women in the fight against the pandemic and their critical contributions to building forward better, increasing resilience of agricultural systems. FTA had a chat with two of our women scientists, Houria Djoudi and Pamela Tabi, who shared their inspiring stories and wisdom! Read more.

Structuring climate finance to benefit women and alleviate poverty

imagethumb.jpgScientists with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) have studied five national financing mechanisms in Indonesia to learn more about the way they incorporate gender inclusiveness. Read more.

Addressing gender in forests and climate change actions

imagethumb.jpgThe importance of women’s participation in successful climate action initiatives and the sustainable management of forest resources has been proven many times. Recent work by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and others demonstrate strong evidence of the positive effects of women’s inclusion in forest management groups on both governance and conservation outcomes. Find out how.

New guide aims to accelerate forest tenure pathways to gender equality

imagethumb.jpgForest tenure reform in the global south has often failed to be gender-responsive, but there is a growing call to take up this challenge to activate effective change. A new guide created by scientists with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) aims to make the process more accessible. The guide recommends a three-step process, billed as “analyze, strategize, and realize,” to support interventions in local and national contexts. Read more.

Banner photo by O. Girard/CIFOR. News photos, from top, by: Amanda Voisard/UN Women; Arnauld Chyngwa/CIFOR; Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR; Icaro Cooke Vieira/CIFOR; Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR.

Contact us



Making climate finance work for women and the poor: Insights from national climate finance mechanisms in Indonesia


Leveraging climate finance for gender equality and poverty reduction: A comparative study


Forest tenure pathways to gender equality: A practitioner’s guide


Understanding gender dynamics in the context of rural transformation processes: An East Kalimantan case study



Enhancing women’s rights and lives through gender-equitable restoration in Burkina Faso


Gender-responsive project implementation within the Resilient Food Systems Programme


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


Embodied engagement with gender and agrobiodiversity: Leveraging transformative moments in multidisciplinary teams


Climate finance and gender on the ground: Insights from mitigation and adaptation interventions in Indonesia


Confronting climate change with gender inclusive financing

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 ICRAF, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR and TBI.


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