Front Cover

Group Title: Gender matters quarterly : a publication of the USAID Office of Women in Development, GenderReach Project.
Title: Gender matters quarterly
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080502/00001
 Material Information
Title: Gender matters quarterly a publication of the USAID Office of Women in Development, GenderReach Project
Physical Description: v. : ill ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: GenderReach Project
Publisher: USAID Office of Women in Development, GenderReach Project
Place of Publication: Washington D.C
Publication Date: 1999-
Frequency: irregular
completely irregular
Subject: Women in development -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Women -- Periodicals -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Additional Physical Form: Also available online through ProQuest.
Dates or Sequential Designation: Issue no. 1 (Feb. 1999)-
Dates or Sequential Designation: Ceased with issue no. 3 (June 2001)
General Note: Title from caption.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00080502
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 47250606
lccn - 2001235937

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
Full Text

a publication of the USAID Office of Women in Development, GenderReach Project
June 2001



-I I :~~- ;!:., :

... ...

To conserve the fragile mangrove
ecosystem in the Gulf of Fonseca,
bordered by Nicaragua, El Salvador, and
Honduras, restrictions were placed on
fishing in the estuaries, and attempts
were made to preserve the forest and
limit firewood use. Men in this region
fish in the open sea and therefore
were not affected. Women, however,
support the household through estu-
ary fishing and firewood collection.
Valuing household survival over offi-
cially mandated restrictions, women
continued to fish in the estuary secretly
and gather firewood for their own use or
to sell.

FC ~ ^ 'The need to invest in conservation and to
minimize environmental destruction is
indisputable. Diverse ecosystems provide
abundant food and water sources. Furthermore,
S...... the links among ecosystems sustain life: Forests
S -... protect soils, healthy soils provide for the
recycling of nutrients, and nutrients in turn are
the basis for new growth. The net economic
benefits of biodiversity are estimated to be at
Least $3 trillion per year, or 11 percent of the
Annual world economic output. And medicines
derived from local flora and fauna form the
S basis of primary healthcare for 80 percent of
.. people in developing countries. Yet human-
induced changes to biodiversity habitats are
leading to the extinction of major species.
: Between 1980 and 1990, tropical forests shrank

. .... -'_--. .-- = f.-! .- ..-'-. -_2- .^. ..--'. "-.T -';, "- '.- --...--." .-,-..--"; 24 --';' "- '-. -; = 4

Issue No. 3



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-~Z-- I

Managing Ecosystems and Resources

with a Gender Emphasis (MERGE)

is a coalition of nongovernmental

organizations in Latin America whose

members share an interest in and

understand the importance of com-

munity conservation with a gender

perspective. With the support of

USAID's Women in Development

Technical Assistance (WIDTECH)

Project and the MacArthur Foundation,

MERGE recently organized a forum so

its members could share their expe-

riences of using a gender perspective

in their conservation work.

In fall 2000, members discussed

what they had learned in separate

meetings in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, and

Washington, D.C. Several months later,

they convened in Ecuador to share

their findings. This meeting served to

consolidate the lessons learned on

working with gender and conservation

in Latin America. At this meeting,

MERGE members also devised

strategies to share their lessons

learned with other NGOs working

in community conservation and to

encourage them to improve their

community conservation work by

including a gender perspective.

an average of nearly 1 percent per
year. At this rate of habitat destruction,
5 to 10 percent of tropical forest plant
and animal species may face extinction
within 30 years.

Why Community

Yet, as the example above illustrates,
successful conservation efforts are as
much about people as they are about
well-intentioned rules and regulations.
Environmental problems often de-
mand local solutions derived from
community initiatives. Depending on
the way natural resources are used,
local people can have a positive or
negative impact on programs.

To maximize the chances that
conservation initiatives and projects
will succeed, those at the community
level need to be invested in both the
concept and the approach. This means
their participation in decision-making
processes and in the evaluation,
monitoring, and management of
natural resources and the environ-
ment. This inclusiveness is more likely
to build a conservation ethic where
people understand that their well-
being depends on healthy mainte-
nance of the environment. Moreover,
the participation of local people is one
of the surest ways to build long-term
capacity to maintain project gains once
the original activity is complete.

Different Genders,
Different Roles

The conservation of biodiversity relies
on the involvement of the full com-
munity-both women and men-
whose interests and perspectives
regarding natural resources may differ.

Often, an ostensibly gender-neutral
initiative may in fact be biased against
women. For example, in some cul-
tures, women are discouraged from
participating, or are dominated by
men, in meetings to determine plans
that will affect their day-to-day
activities surrounding natural resource
use. Yet if women cannot participate in
decision making, they may not engage
in executing plans that will have a
positive, long-term benefit in preser-
ving natural resources. Because men's
and women's roles and impact on the
environment may differ, devising a
gender-neutral initiative is not
enough. Rather, there must be an
explicit effort to understand these
roles and then design a program that
will accommodate the activities of
both women and men.

Another reason to avoid gender-
neutral initiatives and programs is
that they often overlook men's and
women's unique knowledge of natural
resources that can be valuable to
conservation programs. In Rwanda,
for example, agricultural researchers
used the knowledge of women
farmers to develop new varieties of
beans for an extension project. The
yields produced by women were
consistently top performers, in part
because of their adaptation to the local
agro-ecosystem and sustainable fit
within the natural resource-based
livelihood system.

Men and women will have different
points of view and ideas for solutions
about the same problems. To under-
stand how gender shapes activities
affecting the environment, it is useful
to look at who uses resources and how,
who is affected by resource use, and
who has the authority to make
decisions about resource use.

Preparing a plot to plant seedlings for a reforestation project in Zanzibar

Different Perspectives

A gender analysis is an important step
in understanding men's and women's
different perspectives on natural
resource use. This will help develop-
ment planners design inclusive
projects that break down assumptions
about gender roles and barriers to
women's participation.

An immediate benefit of conducting a
gender analysis is the more accurate
delineation of men's and women's
roles. Women's work is often invisible
or not recognized, cloaked under the
catch-all phrase of "housewife." Men,
in contrast, have more descriptive
titles, such as "fisherman" or "farmer,"
that clearly delineate their relationship

to natural resources. A simple way to
obtain an equally clear understanding
of what women do is by asking them
to define specific tasks of their "jobs."

This will reveal the extent to which
they work with the environment. A
"housewife" might tend to the garden
Continued on page 6


In Kenya, local men involved in planning a fuelwood tree planting project
assumed that women would fulfill their traditional role of providing water for
seedlings. After the seedlings were distributed, the men discovered that the
women were unwilling to do the extra hours of water-collecting required by the
project. Furthermore, the women were not particularly interested in the trees
designated to be planted. The failure to consult women in the planning phase
of the project meant that their concerns were ignored. Not surprisingly, they
were indifferent to its success, and the seedlings died for lack of water.
However, the second phase of the project incorporated women's interests by
providing the trees they preferred. They then agreed to help, and this time the
project was successful.

A Day in the Life

Of the Rainforest

Beyond the high Andean peaks of southern Peru, toward
Cusco, lie the lands of the Matsigenka. The Matsigenka
are an ethnic group that has lived in the Peruvian Amazon
for more than 600 years. Today, the Matsigenka live in state-
titled "Native Communities" in the central southeastern
Peruvian rainforest.

Until recently, the Matsigenka lived largely apart from the
regional economy. However, they are finding their culture,
traditions, and way of life increasingly affected by modern ideas
and technologies. Furthermore, their environment-inherent to
their lives and livelihoods-is continually besieged by outsiders
who want to use the land on which they live for oil extraction
and lumber. Although outsiders are required to obtain approval
to harvest resources within indigenous titled lands, the laws
protecting this land are not always stringently enforced.

To combat these intrusions, the Matsigenka are training and
mobilizing young, educated indigenous people to work with
government officials who can help them. In addition,
Conservation International-Peru has been working for two
years to establish a portion of their land as a national park. Of


Using a plantain, DoFia Vilma practices suturing a wound while two of her grandchildren
look on.

several levels of land protection established by the Peruvian
government, this is the strictest category. Land protected as
a national park is subject to minimal destructive extractive
activities such as timber logging, hydrocarbon exploitation,
and extensive agriculture.

The Matsigenka have learned to live off the land in a manner
that significantly reduces the degradation of the environment.
Men's daily chores include hunting, fishing, planting crops,
and buying and selling products at local markets. Women are
responsible for food gathering, harvesting, animal husbandry,
and household tasks such as cooking and childcare.

In December 2000, a photojournalist visited several
Matsigenka who live in the Apurimac Reserved Zone. (A
reserved zone is an area set aside for study that will eventually
be assigned a permanent category of protection status.) The
following stories that she gathered illustrate how men and
women divide their daily tasks, using-but not abusing-the
resources in their environment.

Nature's Medicine

Dona Vilma is seated on a wooden bench
under a kapashi leaf roof, awestruck as she
contemplates some discolored Polaroid photos.
She does not speak a word of Spanish, so
there is a translator to communicate with her.
Doia Vilma is a highly respected woman in the
community of Mayapo. She is the town midwife
and has helped with the birthing of most of the
men and women who today form part of the
community. She also is a connoisseur of
medicinal plants, which she uses to treat
her clients.

"Doha Vilma loves children, she loves plants,
she loves sharing, she has a very generous
heart," says her translator. He goes on to
explain that Dora Vilma, along with an
anthropologist and an assistant, recently
worked on a Conservation International-Peru

project to identify and document medicinal plants. Dofia Vilma
was selected during the project's preliminary social assessment,
which identified her as the most qualified person to assist with
this activity.

Together they gathered more than 150 samples of medicinal
plants. Their work has been recorded in a report in both the
indigenous language of the Matsigenka and in Spanish. Today,
it is used by the community, midwives, and health promoters.
This report will ensure that indigenous traditional knowledge,
typically passed on orally and rarely documented, is not lost.
It also has helped to legitimize the use of traditional medicine
to treat a variety of ailments. In recognition of her work and
dedication, the men, women, and children of Mayapo built
Doha Vilma a new house, where she now teaches her youngest
daughter about medicine and medicinal plants.

Doha Vilma's work has not only contributed to the restoration
of traditional Matsigenka knowledge-one of the goals
determined by the community itself at the beginning of the
project-but it has also helped raise awareness about the
importance of preserving the biodiversity of the area.

Threads of Life

It is almost midday in February, winter in the rainforest. For the
moment, the rains have stopped. Dorotea and her daughters are
relaxing in the shade of their home and drinking masato, a
traditional drink of fermented manioc. Dorotea is spinning cotton.
Her fingers move so quickly among the fibers that it is impos-
sible to see the thread spinning around the thin stick. This
thread, called otsa, will later be used to weave capes, dresses,
bags, and a variety of other clothes.

Dorotea knows little Spanish. She speaks quietly as she lowers
her eyes, not daring to make eye contact with her visitor. It is
easy to understand her reluctance to speak with visitors from
Lima. In addition to her unease with this second language,
Dorotea never went to school-common for her generation, but
rare today.

Dorotea has formed a solid home with Ramon Bernales Morales
and their extended family. Ramon has a broad and good-natured
smile and shows pride in his family when he asks to have his
picture taken with his children and grandchildren. Just as the
photographer prepares to shoot, he suddenly stands up among
the children and tries to hug all of them all together.

Although farm work is shared, the labor is divided by gender
and age according to knowledge, skill level, and cultural
dictates. Ramon lives to work on his field and thus satisfy the
needs of his family. He gets up early every day to check on his
field where he plants yucca, corn, and peanuts.

'There is a lot of fruit in the jungle," he says, "the plantain being
the most abundant. This makes a delicious non-sweet boiled
dish and, along with the yucca, is our main nourishment."
His son Ramon, 15, helps him with the heavy work: pruning,
clearing, and using the machete to clear cut. Nevertheless
at harvest time, the women in the family take control. They
organize the harvest picking and gathering system and
prepare foods from the harvest, which they share with relatives
and friends.

uorotea taKes a moment trom ner Dusy cay to spin conon. sne wim
use it to weave capes, dresses, and bags.

'::~dii~`` `;l:Ji;` ~~:f ~ l P; iil.:i :!'.''"~ I:::'':':*rli:i:b*
1.' 1 t.. .. :.1..:.:. ..: ....::.I;..:: iI.:il.

r" Continued from page 3
for family consumption and the
market, care for animals for home
use or barter, or collect fruit, water,
and wood.

Making assumptions about the roles
of men can be equally detrimental to a
project. This can be seen in a USAID-
funded evaluation of environmental
projects in five African countries.
This evaluation shows that projects
tended to target certain environmental
strategies toward women because
they appeared to be a more willing or
reliable audience. The tacit assumption
that men could not change their
environmental behaviors meant
that no efforts were made to include
them in community action or
other interventions.

Understanding the different priorities
of women and men also helps to
determine appropriate and sustainable
interventions. If initiatives aspire to
reduce or affect resource use that
either women or men depend on, they
are less likely to cooperate.

One common divide is those tasks
done for commercial purposes (men)
versus commercial and domestic
purposes (women). In addition to
pursuing income-generating activities,
women usually have to meet the daily
needs of the household, such as forag-
ing for firewood, fetching water, tilling
the land, and growing and gathering
o food. Men, however, tend to focus
exclusively on income generation. This
distinction necessitates that conserva-
tion interventions and projects adopt
different approaches for women and
.. men. Women will probably resist an
After finishing work on a vegetable plot, Ramon carries a heavy bunch of palm leaves initiative if they have no interest or
back home, involvement in its formulation.

Certainly, they will resist ideas that
threaten their ability to support and
sustain the household. If an initiative
is attempting to curtail destructive
commercial practices, men will
need alternative options for
income generation.

These differing perspectives can
be seen in a survey of community
members in the Philippines. Although
both men and women recognized
that the environment was deter-
iorating and resources were becoming
more scarce, further probing revealed
some differences. Men tended to
describe the problem in terms of
fish scarcity and reduced catch.
Women focused on a wider spectrum
of environmentally induced problems,
ranging from sanitation, health,
food for their families, and lack
of raw marine materials for shell-
craft, sale, and eating. Therefore,
women would probably not develop
or be interested in a program focusing
just on fish. Instead, they would
likely focus on a broader range of
activities to prevent further environ-
mental degradation.

The same study showed that it was
women who seemed more aware of
particular practices that exploit

natural resources. Knowing this,
special efforts should be undertaken to
ensure that men share this knowledge.

Overcoming Barriers

It is important to understand the
different ways that the activities of
women and men affect the environ-
ment and their distinct approaches
and attitudes toward conservation and
resource use. However, institutional
and cultural barriers often complicate
efforts to account for these differences
in the implementation of projects
and initiatives.

Women often play leadership roles in
promoting an environmental ethic. In
addition, women's contributions to
environmental management usually
take place at the local level, where
decentralized action on environmental
issues is most needed and decisive.
Yet it is typically men who dominate
in formal leadership roles and posi-
tions. Women's formal involvement is
scarce at all levels, from local positions
to the ranks where official environ-
mental policies are determined. This
institutional bias is exacerbated by
the fact that organizers often over-
look women.


Women are not included in the Chattis Mauja irrigation organization in Nepal,
even though they make up the majority of irrigation users. This has a serious
consequence: Women farmers are able to take more water than they are entitled
to, claiming they do not know the irrigation rules. The women also do not contri-
bute the amount of labor required by the organization's rules to maintain the
irrigation system. Given these outcomes, the exclusion of women in this organi-
zation has inevitably resulted in inefficient management of the system, compro-
mising the likelihood of its success.

In addition, men may be jealous or
dismissive of women leaders. These
biases against women can compel
them to develop their own areas of
leadership. This is the case in Brazil,
where men dominate in institutional
politics. Women, more active in non-
institutional politics where they can
skirt the cultural norms that keep
them out of formal leadership roles,
are the heart of social movements that
often address environmental concerns,
such as pollution and water scarcity.

Project implementers can foster
greater women's participation by
working with community members to
establish a women's association of
leaders and professionals or to tap into
women's groups. For example, project
organizers working with protected
areas in Guatemala recognized that
women leaders were not working
collaboratively. To address their
isolation and strengthen the potential
of women's contributions for this
project, it was recommended that a
women's association of leaders and
professionals be formed.

Project implementers can offer
professional development training
for women. In situations where
women are moving into jobs tradi-
tionally held only by men, training
can help prepare men to work profes-
sionally with women. Also, new areas
that have yet to be characterized as
"women's work" or "men's work"-
such as growing organic shade-grown
coffee-provide opportunities to
employ equal numbers of women
and men.

Institutional norms can result in the
involuntary exclusion of women, even
with the best-planned project. Media
and educational materials on conser-

vation and resource management tend
to project a male bias, which sends an
indirect message that undermines
women's potential. This bias can be
countered by ensuring that language
in publications and training materials
is gender sensitive and that anecdotes
highlight the work and contributions
of women as well as men.

Women's reticence in the presence of
men is a common cultural norm that, if
not acknowledged, can have the effect
of excluding women from conserva-
tion projects. For example, when
conducting a survey to understand
gender roles and natural resources in
Brazil, interviewers found that their
questions, although heard by the
entire family, generally were answered
only by the head of the family-
typically men. Women had little or no

participation in the responses. How-
ever, separate conversations with the
women disclosed that they felt more
comfortable answering questions that
were formulated by the women on the
team. This simple strategy of hiring
women workers can be applied to a
range of activities, from community
workers to extension agents.

A Gender Focus
For a Green Future

Understanding gender roles, rights,
and responsibilities is a critical part
of the policies and programs that
support community conservation
efforts. Women and men are key
stakeholders who sometimes might
have conflicting interests in natural
resource use and management.

Understanding their respective
priorities and developing initiatives
accordingly are crucial to the success
of long-term conservation efforts.

For More Information
Mary Hill Rojas
Environment Specialist
E-mail: mary_rojas@dai.com
Telephone: 202-332-2853
Conservation International-Peru
Ana Maria Chonati
Communications Coordinator
E-mail: ci-peru@conservation.org
The Nature Conservancy
Constance Campbell
Community Conservation
Program Manager
E-mail: ccampbell@tnc.org
Academy for Educational Development
E-mail: greencom@aed.org

USAID Office of Women in Development, GenderReach Project
1250 1 Street N.W., Suite 1115, Washington, D.C. 20005 USA
Telephone: 202-408-0123 Fax: 202-371-0676 E-mail: GenderReach@dai.com Website: GenderReach.com

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