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Gender and REDD+:UN-REDD’s Innovations to Support SDGs and Transformational Policies

Blog | Mon, 03 Sep, 2018 · 8 min read
 CBR+ in Sri Lanka: Raising Awareness on the Roles of Forest Vigilant Groups

“Mainstreaming gender into REDD+ can narrow the gap between the promise and peril of REDD+ and, in so doing, it can improve REDD+ outcomes.” This statement rings true as much today as it did in 2011, when it was written in the first UN-REDD gender publication: “Business Case for Mainstreaming Gender in REDD+.” Now, seven years later, with a Guidance Note on Gender Sensitive REDD+ and a Methodological Brief on Gender prepared for development practitioners and partner countries, the Programme remains committed to mainstreaming gender within its work.

This has resulted in a more gender-responsive and socially-inclusive nationally-led REDD+ actions as well as in positive and catalytic on-the-ground changes for women’s livelihoods – a win-win scenario. The experience of Martina Afor from Bokalum, a beneficiary of UN-REDD’s community-based REDD+ (CBR+) Programme in Nigeria, is an excellent example of this: “With CBR+, we are now able to sell our produce and make money for our families. The women are also included with men in training for improved cocoa production and sustainable harvesting of non-timber forest products like bush mango, and we have taken an active part in reviewing our community forest management plan. We feel involved and empowered, and our community is now giving us more recognition and support.”

Utilizing a ‘learning by doing’ approach, the Programme’s gender support has evolved and grown over time. Through its experiences across regions, the Programme has found it most effective to integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment both as stand-alone and cross-cutting interventions across thematic areas, and within technical support at local, national, regional and global levels. Over the years, this assistance has ranged from undertaking gender-responsive analyses and participation, conducting awareness raising, capacity building and information sharing on gender, as well as monitoring and reporting. (See Section 4 and Annex 3 of UN-REDD’s Methodological Brief on Gender for country examples of this work.)

Support provided in Sri Lanka illustrates this multi-pronged approach to gender. In 2013, a national-level gender and REDD+ analysis was undertaken, which subsequently helped to inform how a gender perspective was integrated into its National REDD+ Investment Framework and Action Plan (2017), as well as CBR+ activities (2015-2016). In both, there was an equal representation of men and women; in some cases, the majority were women.

Through its technical support on gender, the Programme has also helped UN-REDD partner countries meaningfully integrate a gender perspective into their policy and institutional commitments for REDD+, as per the UNFCCC Warsaw Framework. This is illustrated, for example, in the national REDD+ strategies of Colombia (2018), Cote d’Ivoire (2017) and Indonesia (2012).

Nevertheless, gender gaps in partner country efforts on REDD+ remain. As countries move forward in designing and implementing REDD+ actions, the Programme has seen the continued and pressing need to better integrate gender-responsive activities in a more cohesive and systematic way. As such, the Programme is identifying areas of improvement and working proactively to address these gaps.

A major lesson that the Programme has learned over the past 10 years, and one that now serves as one of its key best practices is the need to ensure that gender support and guidance is developed and validated using a bottom-up approach. Specific emphasis has been placed on promoting the active involvement of local and indigenous women, in order to have their knowledge inform national REDD+ action. As Dalia Bejerano, a Soloy Community Leader in Panama, noted in the UN-REDD Programme Active Listening Process - Women’s Channel consultation, “As women, we are the ones that highlight the value of nature and take the initiative to educate and develop our communities.”

UN-REDD Programme, Panama


It is these perspectives, good practices and lessons learned from the field that have informed and shaped the Programme’s current approach on gender and will continue to guide it going forth.

Moving forward, the Programme is now introducing a gender maker rating system for its 2018 - 2020 Technical Assistance Programme that will measure, on a yearly basis, how, and to what degree, its outputs contribute to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women. Such a system will help the Programme more comprehensively track and monitor the gender responsiveness of its support to countries.

As illustrated by its progress on gender across REDD+ design, implementation and monitoring frameworks, the Programme remains committed and is stepping up its work on gender to ensure everyone can equitably and meaningfully participate in and benefit from national REDD+ processes and actions. In the years ahead, the Programme will continue to promote good practices in gender-responsive REDD+, as well as innovate on gender concepts and methods to enhance the reach and effectiveness of its support.

Written by Elizabeth Eggerts, with contributions from Josep Gari and Amanda Bradley