WLE Gender Strategy: rebalancing the scales

Women attending platform meeting The CGIAR Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems has just released its Gender Strategy, a central element driving how WLE will carry out research for development.

The management of natural resources depends on good decision-making. What we often tend to forget or gloss over is that these decisions are shaped by competing demands as well as women’s and men’s ability to voice their rights and advocate for benefits, within the context of cultural norms, policies and laws.

The CGIAR Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems promotes a new approach to sustainable intensification in which a healthy functioning ecosystem is seen as a prerequisite to agricultural development, resilience of food systems and human wellbeing

Addressing gender issues in a comprehensive manner — in other words supporting efforts that move away from discriminatory norms and practices to ones that are more equitable – could result in a more sustainable intensification of agriculture and responsible stewardship of land, water and ecosystems. The challenge for WLE however is to make this a reality for the millions of smallholders across the world.

The WLE Gender strategy focuses on bringing issues related to power, equity and roles of men and women in decision-making to the forefront. Often natural resources management is guided by a linear logic that technical solutions can be implemented without a consideration for management will affect different groups of people.  The recognition that decisions are influenced much more strongly by our values, cultural norms and gendered thinking is central to ensuring that we can manage our resources better.

Andrew Noble, WLE’s Program Director explains, “To achieve the changes we seek there will be a need to strengthen the positive role of women and the transformative effect women’s involvement and leadership can have in natural resource management that will require reducing gender-discriminatory norms and practices that negatively affect women’s use and stewardship of water, land, and ecosystems”

The goal of the strategy is to improve equitable sharing of benefits and responsibilities of land, water and ecosystems, both tangible and intangible, and as defined by men and women, through the innovations and approaches developed by WLE, for enhancing the sustainable use and stewardship of the natural resource base.

The strategy has two over-arching approaches:

  1. Gender-responsive research is the backbone of the strategy and ensure that gender is integrated into all aspects of the WLE research program, whether in the strategic research portfolios or in the focal regions where the impacts will happen.
  2. Gender specific research test the hypothesis that that gender equity promotes sustainable agriculture to create vibrant ecosystems, specifically by understanding what do women and men need to be able to adopt sustainable agricultural practices.

    Nicoline de Hann – Coordinator – Gender, Poverty and Institutions

“Our approach to gender is exciting because it place gender at the center of WLE’s work”, says Nicoline de Haan, WLE Coordinator for Gender, Poverty and Institutions.

“If we are going to transform how we manage our environment, we need to be sure we engage all groups and segments of society to take responsibility and reap the benefits”.

For more information, download the document WLE gender strategy or contact Nicoline de Haan (n.deHaan(at)cgiar.org)