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Gender and Conservation

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Basket makers, Sierra de las Minas, GuatemalaIn and around the protected areas of Latin America and the Caribbean, women and men have different gender-based roles and responsibilities in their own lives, families, households, and communities. They have different knowledge of, access to, and control over natural resources, and different opportunities to participate in decisions regarding natural resource use.

Basket makers, Sierra de las Minas, Guatemala © Peg Kohring/TNC

Gender-responsive conservation policies and programs are those that seek to achieve biodiversity conservation success while explicitly taking into account both men’s and women’s opinions, needs, and interests.

The Basics of a Gender Approach

  • “Gender” encompasses the economic, social, political, and cultural attributes and opportunities associated with being male or female. Gender relates to the socially constructed differences and relations between men and women within a given context. It is a cross-cutting variable that draws attention to age, ethnicity, class, demography, and other social factors.
  • Gender integration means taking into account both the differences and the inequalities between men and women in program planning, implemention, and assessment. Gender integration contributes to effective programs, social equity, and sustainable change.
  • Gender analysis is the methodology applied to the practice of biodiversity conservation and protected area management to identify and understand the dimensions and relevance of gender issues and gender-based constraints.  Analysis includes understanding the differences between men’s and women’s roles, rights and opportunities. Gender analysis requires understanding how historical, demographic, institutional, cultural, socioeconomic, and ecological factors affect relations between men and women.
  • Gender mainstreaming means analyzing and adjusting, where appropriate, for potential gender differences throughout the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all programs and activities, for the purpose of making them more effective and efficient.

How Gender Influences Biodiversity Conservation

Gender relations influence how communities, households, and institutions are organized, how decisions are made, and how resources are used.  To understand how gender shapes activities that affect biodiversity conservation, it is necessary to examine women's and men’s roles and responsibilities, access to and control over resources, knowledge of resources, and authority to make decisions about resource use.

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Access to and control over resources
  • Knowledge base
  • Public participation in decisionmaking