Regional dialogue: How can we support women’s inclusion in landscape management in Asia?

While half the people working in agriculture in Asia are women, on average only 10.7 percent of women in the region own land. Furthermore, there is still a widespread perception that forestry is more suitable for men.

Women are thus often excluded from local management systems and institutional structures. Most agriculture and forest policy decisions utilize a gender-neutral framework, ignoring the specific needs and contributions of women.

“If women have the same access to resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms, increase food security and provide better solutions in land use,” says Jeannette Gurung, Executive Director, WOCAN. “These are just some of the benefits of empowering women in landscape management. But to move forward, we must bridge the forestry, agriculture, and environment sectors, and women’s rights groups.”

More than 40 representatives from communities, govt, NGOs, UN and donor agencies came together to explore best practices and the way forward at the 'Regional Dialogue on Women’s Inclusion in Landscape Management in Asia' held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on 7-9 October 2014.

The dialogue, supported by WOCAN, The Forest Dialogue (TFD) and RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests, aimed to develop participants’ understanding of the current state of women’s exclusion/inclusion in landscape management, which includes sustainable forestry and farming practices and land-use approaches.

Participants identified the challenges to designing and implementing women-inclusive initiatives in landscape management, as well as shared experiences, practical approaches and actions that support women’s inclusion in Asia.

“Sustained engagement with local communities is key to women’s inclusion in landscape management,” said Bhawana Upadhyay, Gender and Rights Programme Officer, RECOFTC. “To bring about real change, we need to rethink landscape management by actively promoting more inclusive governance processes while also addressing the root causes of exclusion such as traditional norms on the role of women in households and public life.”

The Dialogue report is forthcoming.

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