The role of women in early REDD+ implementation: lessons for future engagement
CIFOR went to 77 villages in six countries, all at the early stage of implementing REDD+. They found that women were less well informed about REDD+ than men – even in villages where women were actively involved in their community’s decision-making; used the forest as much or more than men; and the local REDD+ initiative set out to include them. None of these factors were correlated with more knowledge of REDD+. Conversely, low understanding of REDD+ cannot be associated with less use of the forest.
This is worrisome, as REDD+ poses specific risks to women, who use the forest differently from men and whose interests are not always well-represented by village councils. Women should be fully aware of the implications before their community signs a REDD+ contract that could restrict forest use. Their lack of involvement to date has potentially significant implications for REDD+ implementation and future outcomes.
The only factor CIFOR found that was associated with a greater understanding of REDD+ was female participation in rule-making and monitoring specifically for forest resources. The researchers gain some reassurance from the fact that these women were indeed better informed and potentially more able to influence REDD+.
This article uses these findings to argue that participation, while a central demand of indigenous and other local communities more generally, is only a partial solution to addressing women's strategic needs in ways that could strengthen their position in REDD+. Gender-responsive analyses are needed to understand real and perceived gender differences and anticipate risks.