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Group Title: Case studies series on gender, community participation and natural resource management ;, no. 3
Title: Working with community-based conservation with a gender focus
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080530/00001
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Title: Working with community-based conservation with a gender focus a guide
Series Title: Case studies series on gender, community participation and natural resource management
Physical Description: 9 p. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Rojas, Mary, 1940-
Publisher: MERGE, Managing Ecosystems and Resources with Gender Emphasis
Place of Publication: Gainesville FL
Publication Date: 2000
Subject: Conservation of natural resources -- Citizen participation   ( lcsh )
Women in conservation of natural resources   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Statement of Responsibility: Mary Hill Rojas.
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oclc - 54003170
notis - APK3178

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Full Text

Case Studies Series on Gender, Community Participation
and Natural Resource Management, No. 3, 2000.

Working with Community-Based
Conservation with a Gender Focus: A
Mary Hill Rojas

June, 2000

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*G6ainesvile, FL 326115531 USA
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66Fax: (352) 663926-0
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Mariane Sh is: P.D

Working with
Conservation with a
Gender Focus:
A Guide.

Mary Hill Rojas
Case Study No. 3
June, 2000




- -
5 -




The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fo

grupo de pc.quiai e e\lten -Sd em
sistemas agroflorestais do Acre



Case Study No. 3
June, 2000

Working with Community-Based Conservation
with a Gender Focus: A Guide
Mary Hill Rojas






MERGE (Managing Ecosystems and Resources
with Gender Emphasis),
Tropical Conservation and Development Program
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida
P.O. Box 115531
Gainesville, FL 32611
E-mail: tcd@tcd.u.edu

John D. and Cathine T. MacArthur Foundation
University of Florida

Marianne Schmink (University of Rorida)

Constance Campbell (The Nature Conservancy)
Avecita Chicch6n (MacArthur Foundation)
Maria Cristina Espinosa (IUCN)
Denise Garrafiel (PESACRE)
Susan V. Poats (FLACSO Ecuador)
Mary Rojas (WIDTECH)

Eiana Kampf Binelli
Richard Wallace
Ronaldo Weigand Jr.
Mariana Varese

University of Florida
PESACRE Acre Agroforestry Research and
Extension Group
WIDTECH A Women in Development
Technical Assistance Project
FVA Vrtbria Amaz6nica Foundation
USAID/Brazil US Agency for International
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
FLACSO/Ecuador Latin American Social Sciences
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
The Nature Conservancy
Conservation Intemational Peru

The MERGE Case Studies Series on Gender,
Community Participation and Natural Resource
Management, supported by grants from the John
D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and
WIDTECH, is designed to show how a gender
focus has been relevant and useful in natural
resource management projects. The cases focus
on concrete examples from extension, applied
research, and participatory planning activities
involving rural communities, especially those in and
around protected areas primarily from projects in
Latin America with which the MERGE program has
collaborated. The format lends itself to practical
applications as well as training in gender and
natural resource management. The cases are
translated into English, Portuguese and Spanish,
and are available on the Intemet
The following are the first case studies of the
1.Conceptual Framework for Gender and Com-
munity-Based Conservation, by Marianne
Schmink, 1999
2.Gender, Conservation and Community Par-
ticipation: The Case of Jatl National Park,
Brazil, by Regina Oliveira and Suely Anderson,
3.Working with Community-Based Conserva-
tion with a Gender Focus: A Guide, by Mary
Hill Rojas, 2000


Gender, Community Participation and Natural Resource Management, No. 3, 2000

Working with Community-Based Conservation with a

Gender Focus: A Guide

Mary Hill Rojas

The WIDTECH Project, funded by the Office of Women in Development (G.WID) of the United States
Agency for International Development (USAID), provides technical assistance and training on gender issues
to USAID bureaus and missions. In spring 1998. at the request of Eric Fajer, USAID Latin American and
Caribbean Bureau. I served as a member of the Parks in Peril (PIP) Project evaluation team. The evaluation
team consisted of Laurence Hausman. team leader, institutional relationships and strengthening: Allen Put-
nev, management of protected areas: Lorenzo Rosenzweig, conservation finance; and myself, community
development, participation and gender.
The evaluation reviewed the progress under the Parks in Peril Project, a cooperative agreement between The
Nature Conservancy and USAID. The evaluation included field visits to seven protected areas in Mexico
(La Encrucijada, El Ocote. and Sian Ka'an), Ecuador (Machalilla), Peru (Bahuaja Sonene), Costa Rica (Ta-
lamanca). Guatemala (Sierra de Las Minas) and discussions with headquarters staff at USAID and The Na-
ture Conservancy in Washington, D.C.
The team was "to assess the overall performance of PIP against the program's purpose and results outlined
in the USAID Results Framework." The strategic objective of the program is the "protection of selected
Latin American and Caribbean parks and reserves important to conserve the hemisphere's biological diver-
The purpose of the evaluation was not to evaluate the indi idual sites but to evaluate the PIP Project overall.
Therefore, observations during particular site visits were used as examples illustrating broader issues. This
guide uses examples from the site visits and builds on the results of the evaluation to suggest ways that PIP
project personnel can easily. efficiently, and equitably integrate gender in their work.
WIDTECH has collaborated \ ith MERGE on many projects and programs dealing with community conser-
vation. gender and protected areas. In keeping with that tradition. I am pleased that this guide can be a part
of the MERGE case studies series.
I am grateful to Eric Fajer. LAC/USAID: Constance Campbell. The Nature Conservancy; and Marianne
Schmink. MERGE.University of Florida for their support of this project. I am also grateful to the Nature
Conservancy personnel, their partners who \work with PIP, and the local men and women living near the
protected areas who provided the examples on gender used in this document.

Mary Hill Rojas
Washington, D.C.
December 1998

Ito ci

The Parks in Peril Project (PIP) was developed
to conserve imperiled ecosystems in Latin America
and the Caribbean by "ensuring on-site management
of officially designated protected areas containing
globally important biological diversity." Parks in
Peril is a term used by The Nature Conservancy for
55 conservation sites in Latin America and the Car-
ibbean. The United States Agency for International
Development (USAID) has thus far provided funding
for 28 of these sites, with plans for adding new sites
in the near future.

With the support of USAID Washington and the
USAID missions in each country, The Nature Con-
servancy works with one or more partners, local non-
governmental organizations (NGOs), in each site. At
the sites visited in the evaluation these partners in
1998 were:
* La Encrucijada, Mexico: Instituto de Historia
Natural de Chiapas;
* El Ocote, Mexico: Instituto de Historia Natural
de Chiapas;
* Sian Ka'an, Mexico: Amigos de Sian Ka'an;

Gender, Community Participation and Natural Resource Management, No. 3, 2000

* Machalilla, Ecuador: Fundaci6n Natura and The
Conservation Data Center;
* Bahuaja Sonene, Peru: Pro Naturaleza;
* Talamanca, Costa Rica: Talamanca Caribbean
Biological Corridor Commission;
* Sierra de las Minas, Guatemala: Defensores de la

All these partners in turn work with other local
NGOs. One partner, the Talamanca Corridor Com-
mission, is a confederation of 14 local, grassroots,
organizations. The seven sites contain very diverse
environments, ranging from coastal reserves to tropi-
cal forests and savannas to mountain forests. A pri-
mary goal of PIP is to gain the support and involve-
ment of the communities that live in and around the
parks and reserves so they, too, have a stake in the
conservation of biodiversity.

Attention to gender is an important part of
community-based conservation and of the policy and
programs that support conservation. This guide, built
on examples and lessons learned from the Parks in
Peril Project mid-term evaluation, provides six steps
to begin to understand gender analysis and its im-
portance to conservation. The guide is meant for use
by the personnel of protected areas and their commu-
nity partners and others who work with community
conservation in the field, within institutions and at a
policy level.

H I s th G i

This guide can be used either in its
entirety as a short workshop on gender
(two to three hours) or each of the com-
ponents can be used separately as a part of
a regular staff meeting agenda (20-30
minutes). In both cases, a facilitator pre-
pares for the "training". In the guide, each
"step" begins with a conceptual discus-
sion relating gender and conservation.
The conceptual discussion is followed
with an exercise for the workshop partici-
pants. Each "step" can be copied and sent
to the participants ahead of time for their
consideration or it can be presented by the
facilitator at the workshop or meeting.
Each "step" presents an exercise to en-
gage the participants in discussion of the
material. Each exercise leads to a tangible

edge, but to share information through structured
group activities, and construct understandings
through large group discussions and interactive exer-
Having completed the training, participants will
be able to:
* Develop a rationale for their institution for the
inclusion of gender in community conservation;
* Analyze women's and men's roles and their re-
lationship to the management of natural re-
* Highlight the accomplishments of both women
and men in organizational documents and envi-
ronmental education materials;
* Analyze women's groups and their potential
contribution to conservation;
Articulate the importance of women's participa-
tion in conservation efforts and the barriers they
face to participation, and implement ways to re-
move the barriers; and
Promote cross-sectoral work in education and
democracy and governance as a means to address
environmental issues.

Conceptual Discussion
"Why do we care about gender?" The conserva-
tion of biodiversity relies on the involvement of peo-
ple, the full community constituency, both women
and men, whose interests and perspectives related to
natural resources may be quite different. Often

A primary goal of
PIP is to gain the
support and
involvement of the
communities that
live in and around
the parks and
reserves so they,
too, have a stake in
the conservation of

result: this may be a rationale for community conser-
vation or the skills necessary to carry out rapid gen-
der analysis in the field and within institutions. The
primary goal is not to transmit authoritative knowl-

women are underrepresented or not repre-
sented at all at a local level, within insti-
tutions and at a policy level where deci-
sions are made. In order to use gender in
their work PIP personnel need to develop
and articulate a rationale that ties gender
to community-based conservation. One
such rationale follows:
"The Parks in Peril Program is in
concert with the policy of the first Latin
American Congress on National Parks and
Other Protected Areas held in Santa
Marta, Colombia (1997) which recognizes
that conservation is a social issue. Within
the PIP Program, there is a recognition
that engaging communities to foster the
conservation of biodiversity and the well-
being of the protected areas is critical to

the reserves' long-term viability, especially when
hunger and poverty lie close to the reserve bounda-
ries. Food, habitat, livelihood and health depend on a
healthy environment.

Gender, Community Participation and Natural Resource Management, No. 3, 2000

Those who work with the conservation of biodi-
versity recognize the diversity of stakeholders and the
various levels and definitions of community-those
within the protected area or on its borders, urban con-
stituencies, and the broader regional, national and
international communities that support the reserves.
Gender is central to this community-based approach,
affecting how communities, households and institu-
tions are organized and, in turn, how they relate to
the environment around them.
A community-based approach to conservation
builds on the vital roles women and men play in un-
derstanding and managing the environment that sur-
rounds them both in rural and urban settings.

The Approach
* Encourages environmental
leadership, and participation
of both men and women
within the civil society, so
that they can better serve as
advocates for environmental
issues of concern to them,
their families and their
* Develops inclusive strate-
gies for conservation and re-
source management based
on democratic principles and
participatory techniques of
the full citizenry.
* Increases understanding of
how gender shapes the ac-
cess to, the participation in,
and the agenda of, collective
activities affecting the envi-
* Addresses specifically the
economic, social, institu-
tional and legal constraints
to effective management of
natural resources by men
and by women.

decision making,

As a part of this overall approach, gender analy-
sis is a useful conservation tool as it:

" Assists in breaking down stereotypes. The docu-
mentation of the presence of women as reserve
directors and forest rangers in Peru serves to dis-
pel the common idea that protected areas are too
remote to attract professional women (TRC
1998: 22 and 31).
* Uncovers roles that are overlooked Often
women are defined and, define themselves, as
housewives which masks their roles as daily

managers of natural resources, providing water
and fuelwood for their families, tending kitchen
gardens and fruit trees, disposing of garbage and
tending livestock.
* Helps assure the representation of diversity in
environmental education materials. Women
have the potential to play a central role in envi-
ronmental education because their intimate rela-
tionship to their communities and families pro-
vides an ideal conduit for the diffusion of envi-
ronment messages. However, environmental
education messages overwhelmingly target men
in their depiction of the management of natural
* Describes communities and the institutions that
support them. Institutional norms such as kin-
ship, marriage, religion, ethnicity, and class often
determine who will make the
decisions on how natural re-
;osystem use in sources will be used in a
a, bordered by given community. These
or and Honduras norms are gender-based. For
onserve the man- example, women often have a
ve been placed on small political presence on
es and attempts community councils. Public
serve timber and meetings often are perceived
The majority of as male spaces and local or-
tuaries, while the ganizations and institutions
sea. Women's in- may be based on male hierar-
Swere not under- chies. These institutional bar-
tions limited their riers for women need to be
source of house- recognized in mobilizing
ne has been lost. public support for environ-
rewood. Individu- mental improvements
n the estuary se- Including local women
firewood for their and men in an activity can
This highlights an improve the environmental
n lesson: unless results of a project and not
dividual and com- including them can often
ing their resource doom an intervention. Par-
tempts to change ticularly this is true with
immage 1999:4) women because they are
more invisible than men and
are often not included. Ex-
amples from a recent study on a Mangrove ecosystem
in the Gulf of Fonseca, bordered by Nicaragua, El
Salvador and Honduras, illustrates this point (Box

The Exercise
Give a copy of the above rationale to partici-
pants to read before a staff meeting or planned work-
shop. Discuss the rationale at the meeting in small
groups. The small groups report back their ideas to
the full group. The group then works to arrive at a
consensus on a rationale acceptable as a framework

Box 1: Mangrove ec
the Gulf of Fonsec
Nicaragua, El Salvad
In an attempt to c
groves, restrictions ha)
fishing in the estuari
have been made to pri
limit firewood use.
women fish in the es
men fish in the open
volvement with fishing
stood and. the restrict
access rights. A vital
hold protein and incon
Women also gather fi
als continue to fish ir
cretly and to gather
own use or to sell. "1
important conservation
the constraints that in
munities face in chang
use are considered, at
may not succeed." (Ga

Gender, Community Participation and Natural Resource Management, No. 3, 2000

for working with gender in the protected area. Such a
consensus can include a minority opinion if full con-
sensus cannot be reached.

Conceptual Discussion
Language often masks the work that women do.
Many terms in many languages, "farmer," "forester,"
and "doctor," conjure up a male image. "The farmer
wore a dress" is a startling phrase. Deconstructing
terms to make women's work visible is important in
fostering conservation.
Women who live near protected areas often are
defined by themselves, their families, protected area
staff and others as "housewives." Men have more
descriptive titles, "fisherman," "farmer," "cheese-
maker," which more clearly delineates their relation-
ship to natural resources. It is important to decon-
struct the term "housewife" in order to understand
how women interact with the natural world around

The Exercise
Before the workshop have the participants,
when in the field, ask what women (and men) do
during various times of the year or during a typical
day. The participants then bring the information they
gather to the workshop to share with the others.
For example, a first illustration comes from Ba-
huaja Sonene where two of the greatest threats to

conservation are gold mining
collection of Brazil nuts.
Women were identified as
"housewives" and the men as
"miners" and "nut collec-
tors." The director of a local
NGO, a woman, "unpacked"
the term housewife to shed
light on women's roles in
these activities:
* Brazil Nut Collection.
Both women and men
move to the forest to
collect the nuts during
the harvest season. The
women collect, dry, peel
and often sell the nut.
The majority of contracts
for collecting the nuts
are in the woman's name.

and the unregulated

The men also collect

the nut; transport the nut by boat to market; use
the machete to break the shell open to expose the

nut; carry the bags of nuts (often 75 kilos) on
their backs out of the forest.
* Gold Mining. Both the men and the women set
up camp in the forest near the mining site. The
woman buys the food and cooks and generally
sets up house. She often does the contracting to
mine the gold and sells the gold. Gold mining is
very hard labor and the men do the digging and
the processing of the gold.

A second illustration from El Ocote was for-
mulated by, an extension agent, a woman, who
quickly listed tasks that put a housewife in direct
daily contact with the natural resources in and around
the protected area:

* Fishing. Some women fish but all women cook,
clean, market and preserve fish.
Herbs. Women grow herbs (chipitin; hierba
santa; achiote; pimienta) for adornment, medici-
nal reasons and food.
Maize. Women store the corn, grind it and
make the daily tortilla and alol.
Coffee. Some women plant and help with the
harvest. All women process (select, wash,
shell, dry and bag) the beans after the pick-
ing. The men market the coffee. For home
use women toast, grind, and make the cof-
Chili. Women make the seed beds, trans-
plant, control insects, and manage the plants.
They cut and select the chili for size and
color, bag and market them.
The Garden. The woman is responsible for the
garden that provides food for the family and
market (tomatoes, squash,
SBy defining terms hierba mora, hierba buena)
fork may be over- Animals. Women tend
in El Ocote was chickens and turkeys for
of Iguana, men's home use and barter.
ined more broadly Fruit. Women collect
ter, skinning and nance, oranges, limes, lem-
women played an ons to market or to make
women played an
have enjoyed the conserves.
struction of terms Water and Wood.
ereotypes but pro- Women are responsible for
Into the use of gathering the water and fire-
insights can inform wood for family needs.
policy decisions for

A final example in Box 2 illustrates the impor-
tance of deconstructing terms to find where women

Box 2: Iguana Farming.
too narrowly women's w
looked. Iguana farming
defined as the raising
work. However, when de
to include the slaught
cooking of the animals
equal role yet may not
project benefits. Decon
not only breaks down st
vides important insights
natural resources. Such
strategic planning and p

Gender, Community Participation and Natural Resource Management, No. 3, 2000

Conceptual Discussion
It is important to make visible the involvement
of women throughout the PIP project in order to take
credit for what has been accomplished and to docu-
ment the lessons learned.
Wives and Mothers
Besides the direct participation of women in PIP
activities, women take pride in their roles as wives
and mothers. These roles are important to women and

to men and they can serve conservation.
One example is from Sierra de las Mi-
nas. Don Juan is an influential catechist
who lives with his family near the reserve.
They have a mixed farm that is a model for
sustainable agriculture: worm composting,
terraces with cardamon and coffee, fruit
trees and a Tilapia fish pond. The sign on
their door says that "the forest is life-take
care of it for your children." His wife sup-
ports his work especially with the cultiva-
tion of native plants and traditional medi-

and bureaus; and members of the board of directors
of the Nature Conservancy.
Making such women visible in publications, en-
vironmental education materials, annual reports and
public presentations encourages other women and
helps to break down stereotypes. For example, in
Bahuaja Sonene, the obvious presence of women as
former park directors, park rangers, community
health workers, and volunteer park rangers serves to
dispel the all too common idea that protected areas
are too remote to attract female professionals.
The Exercise
Give each participant a different example of en-
vironmental education materials or other conserva-
tion publications. Have each participant do an indi-
vidual analysis of the material to determine how of-

The sign on
their door says
that "the forest
is life-take
care of it for
your children."

cines. She knows the plants for childhood sicknesses
and travels with her husband to share this knowledge
with neighbors.
A second example is from Sian Ka'an. The re-
serve funds a nursery that rescues the old Mayan tra-
ditions to restore soils, protect the forest and grow
native and medicinal plants. A local man runs the
nursery, conducts basic research and acts as an exten-
sion agent. His wife also works in the nursery with
the plants and knows the uses of plants, against bites,
for gastritis, for aching bones and for women in la-
bor. In this case the wife works in support of her hus-
band without pay. There is a need to recognize the
value to conservation of husband and wife teams.

Leaders and Professionals

Women are visible in a variety of leadership
roles and as professionals throughout the PIP project
area. They are heads of Ministries of the Environ-
ment (Mexico); founders of partner NGOs (Sian
Ka'an); extension agents (La Encrucijada; El Ocote);
leaders of reserve councils (Talamanca); park guards
and directors (Bahuaja Sonene); directors of partner
NGOs (Talamanca); leaders of indigenous groups
(Sierra de las Minas); leaders of PIP sponsored ac-
tivities (Machalilla); lead staff of USAID missions

ten men are represented and how often
women are represented both graphically and
in the text. Each individual then reports
their findings back to the large group. Gen-
erally speaking men are overwhelmingly
referred to and pictured. Attention to gender
in materials reflects attention to diversity.
Diversity is an indicator of inclusiveness,
important for community participation in
the name of conservation. The findings
from this exercise should be used by those

developing publications for the protected area or
community partners.

Conceptual Discussion
Experience shows that integrating women into
the central activities of projects and programs is gen-
erally more effective than a separate effort directed at
women. However, this may vary, especially in areas
where there is a tradition of women working together
in groups or where there are taboos against unrelated
males and females working together. Sometimes,
additional efforts must be directed towards women to
overcome the effects of past discrimination or to help
develop the self-reliance that helps women avoid
conflict or competition with men (Dixon-Mueller and
Anker 1988). Targeting women separately from men
may make sense in regions where many households
are headed by women or where women specialize in
tasks that could be made more productive with spe-
cific assistance to them.
Several patterns emerged at the PIP sites of
women working in groups separately from men:

Gender, Community Participation and Natural Resource Management, No. 3, 2000

Pattern One: Women's Economic Activities
Two examples illustrate the many economic ac-
tivities around and in the PIP protected areas:
* The Committee of Women established in 1996 in

Machalilla has successfully raised
chickens for sale to local hotels.
These women are middle aged. Ac-
cording to them younger women do
not participate because of their hus-
band's jealousy or their childcare re-
sponsibilities. The project has pro-
vided training in small business skills
in accounting, cost calculations, and
administration. Technical assistance
has been provided on feeding chick-
ens and veterinarian services.
* A women's group in Sierra de las
Minas has been working together for
six years with the idea of earning in-
come. They began with sewing proj-
ects both for the home and the market
with little success. With help from

acts as a role model for other women. Often women
who break with tradition are pointed out sometimes
with pride, sometimes with dismay. They are change

There is a long-
standing debate
over whether to
have a women's
component within
the organization or
to work to fully
intPcrnratP wxmr n

into th

the Peace Corps, they also began baking cookies
for sale. Through a government agency, they had
exchanges with other women's groups and the
opportunity for scholarships for further school-
ing. They had experimented with vegetable gar-
dens and were thinking of providing food serv-
ices to tourists. None of these enterprises had
been economically successful to date. A current
effort to grow organic coffee seems to hold
promise as it has a competitive advantage, is a
value-added product and is market-based.

The Exercise
Ask a staff member working with women's
economic activities to present the activity as a short
case study. After the presentation, have the partici-
pants evaluate the activity: How does it relate to the
conservation of biodiversity? Do they have a com-
petitive advantage and a value-added product? Is the
product market-based? Do the women have small
business skills? Does PIP subsidize the activity so
that it is not sustainable without the subsidies?

Pattern Two: Women as Pioneers
In Punta Allen in the Sian Ka'an protected area,
there is a sense of urgency to transform fishermen to
tour guides before the reef dies. A tour guide class
has been established to teach English and other skills.
One woman participates in the tour guide class. Al-
though she is not a fisherwoman, she was accepted
due to her charisma and eagerness to participate. She

The Exercise
At a staff meeting brainstorm who
are the women pioneers within the com-
munity. Consider whether they are com-
munity leaders. Consider how they may
be effectively used as partners in promot-
ing conservation.

Pattern Three: A Women's Com-
ponent of an Established Organi-

Near Bahuaja Sonene there is a un-
e ion of rural people. The union staff and
of the members try to integrate women into the
association making sure their language is
S gender sensitive and their publications and
programs highlight both men and women.
At the same time, there is a women's component
which includes a woman extension agent working
with women and activities of the union directed spe-
cifically to women. There is a long-standing debate
over whether to have a women's component within
the organization or to work to fully integrate women
into the mainstream of the activities. In most con-
texts, some combination of the two seems most pro-

The Exercise
Before the workshop have each participant do a
brief institutional analysis of an organization or
agency working in or near PIP protected areas. This
analysis should include the following steps: identify
decision-making bodies and look at their male/female
ratio; look at the women's component if there is one
and its productivity, programs, policy and power;
informally interview women and men as to their
evaluation of women's participation in the institution;
and, look at the membership or clientele and who is
being served. Each participant brings the results of
their analysis to the workshop to share with others. In
a large group answer the question: How can the
analysis findings be useful?

Conceptual Discussion
In Peru, Rosa Barrantes of the Instituto de Saber
writes "if there were a policy where women could
participate with their own voice and with decision-

Gender, Community Participation and Natural Resource Management, No. 3, 2000

making powers it would be possible to confront many
of the great problems that affect the environment" .
(Marin 1991: 31).
In talking with staff and local people during the
PIP evaluation a rationale emerged for the impor-
tance of women's participation in conservation ef-

" Women are community leaders, but often invisi-
ble to outsiders;
* Women are often those who organize local envi-
ronment events, from saving the turtles to cele-
brating traditional rituals and values;
* Women manage natural resources daily-e.g.,
gardens, fuelwood, medicinal plants and herbs-
and they have central roles in farming,
fishing and hunting; Wo
Women are the primary caregivers of
children to whom they pass on envi- COII
ronmental messages; and le
Women do not drink away the profits
from economic activities or spend the bu
money on themselves as men do, but inv
rather spend them on the children's
education or on the household.

However, throughout the evaluation at all the
sites visited, a variety of reasons were given for why
women did not participate more in the work of PIP.
The barriers to women's participation that were men-
tioned, a mix of cultural and institutional factors,

Indigenous women do not speak Spanish;
Women do not leave the community nor are they
as mobile as men;
Women are to stay in their homes;
Women do not attend public meetings;
Women marry young and drop out of school at a
younger age than do boys;
Women are not contacted by PIP staff;
There is a prevalence of machismo;
There is jealousy within the community if a local
woman is hired as an extension agent;
Women are thought not to want to attend training
activities, but, in fact, often are eager to do so;
Women are perceived of as just housewives and
women; and
There is little value placed on women's work or
their roles with natural resources.

Also, there are perceptions of what women will
and will not do. Beehives in El Ocote were intro-
duced but it was perceived that women would not
tend the hives as the bees were too aggressive. Yet


the men abandon the hives when the coffee is ready
to be harvested.
Many of the obstacles are specific to a particular
culture, country or region. In Guatemala, officials
were pleased that widows in an indigenous group
near Sierra de las Minas were to be given title to land
as heads of household. However, the women were
ashamed to publicly claim their title. If the literature
worldwide is a guide then the shame may be related
to the women's perceived failure in keeping their
husbands alive and in keeping a home where there is
no man. (See Owens 1996, and Chen and Dreuze
1992 on the plight of widows worldwide.)
Given that conservation depends on the partici-

pation of both men and women; given that women
participate less than men because of a vari-
ety of barriers; given that many of these
are barriers are specific to a given culture, a
lity simple strategy for addressing the barriers is
to rely on the expertise and experience of
S local NGOs which work with gender and
n women's issues.
to In all the countries where there are
Parks in Peril sites, there are organizations
.rS working on behalf of women. In Mexico
alone, there are some 370 women's organi-
zations. There are regional networks of women's
organizations, such as the Red de Mujeres Afro-
caribefias y Afrolatinoamericanas housed in Costa
Rica. There are indigenous groups such as the Aya-
mara women in Bolivia who have formed organiza-
tions to defend their culture, land and territories.
Many of these organizations are particularly focused
on gender and the environment or on ways of in-
volving women in community development. The
themes of the first international conference on
women of the Amazon forest held in 1999 in Rio
Branco in Brazil were women, development and the
environment. The conference developed new net-
works and revealed old ones.

The Exercise
Identify local groups through a participant
brainstorming session and assign each participant a
group to research and to contact. Many groups may
be willing partners in conservation with techniques
and experience for reaching women and overcoming
the barriers to participation that many women con-

Conceptual Discussion
A community-based approach to addressing en-
vironmental protection and sustainable natural re-

Gender, Community Participation and Natural Resource Management, No. 3, 2000

source management acknowledges an interaction of
the environment, resource use and political, eco-
nomic and social forces. Particularly of importance in
PIP is the interaction of the conservation of biodiver-
sity and education, and the interaction of conserva-
tion, democracy and governance.
Between 1970 and 1990, illiteracy in Latin
America has fallen, often dramatically, but with
variations among countries. For example, in the
countries visited by the PIP evaluation
team, only Costa Rica has an illiteracy The s
rate below 10 percent. Mexico, Ecuador educ
and Peru have rates between 10 percent uca
and 20 percent. In Guatemala, there are pai
more than 20 percent who are illiterate. W
There are more illiterate women than men
in all the countries visited, except for edu
Costa Rica In Guatemala, Peru and Ec- imp
uador, there are significant differences in envi
the numbers of illiterate men and women.
The numbers of illiterate women far ex- pr(
ceed those of illiterate men. Rural and
indigenous groups often show more illit-
eracy than the general population and greater gaps
between the literacy rates of men and of women
(Valdez and Gomariz 1995: 98).
In a national survey of people's awareness of
environmental issues in Peru there was a significant
difference between men and women regarding their
knowledge of environmental issues, including the
conservation of biodiversity and protected areas.
Women, as compared to men, knew less. However,
the differences disappeared when education was
taken into account. Therefore, the results of the sur-
vey gave central importance to education as a means
of addressing environmental issues, including con-
servation. The hypothesis was: a) given that knowl-
edge about environmental problems and the measures
needed to overcome them increases with education;
b) given that in the next few years levels of education
for Peruvians will go up; c) given that the difference
between men's and women's education will diminish,
it can be expected that the general environmental
knowledge of the population will increase. Therefore,
the support of education and, in particular, women's
education, is important to environmental protection
(Rojas 1998: 6).
Democracy and Governance
There is a recognition that the conservation of
biodiversity and the health and welfare of protected
areas are often dependent on local level solutions
derived from community initiatives.


In Machalilla, the reserve personnel have gone
from policing protected areas to keep people out,
to participatory planning with communities in
the management of the reserve.
In La Gandoca, a part of the Talamanca Corri-
dor, the land of the protected area belongs to the
members of the community. Without their sup-
port and participation in its management there is
no protected area.

However, community approaches can act
against women's interests. For example,
)port of worldwide, women often have a small
and, in political presence on community councils.
San, Public meetings often are perceived as
;ular, male spaces. In La Encrucijada, a public
enr's meeting for the PIP evaluators in a small
village in the protected area drew only the
ion, is fishermen. Women were working else-
tant to where. As one woman commented,
mental "Many programs have no women. Many
mental staff members do not talk with them. They
action are women." These are common barriers
and there are simple strategies to address

Women in various cultures worldwide are more
comfortable talking with other women and in
some cultures, it is inappropriate for women to
talk with men outside their families. In El Ocote,
La Encrucijada, and Machallila, PIP staff reach
out to women using local women as community
workers and extension agents.
To reach women with conservation messages
and programs it is important to identify where
women meet. Often the formal, public spaces are
not the spaces of women. Women will create
their own spaces for meeting if their participation
and opinions are sought. Also it is important to
identify what resources are under the influence
of women and men. Often natural resources are
"gendered"-for example, women control the
fruit but men control the fruit tree.
In some of the PIP sites there is a post-conflict
environment, a transitional period from conflict
to an increasingly democratic and decentralized
state. For example, the war in Guatemala ironi-
cally gave women more public space especially
through the prestigious National Coordinating
Committee of Widows and through such indige-
nous leaders as Rigoberta Menchu and Rosalina
Tuyuc. The Guatemala Peace Accord empha-
sized support to Mayan women. These demo-
cratic openings provide a forum for women to
discuss many concerns, including those related
to the environment.

Gender, Community Participation and Natural Resource Management, No. 3, 2000

The Exercise
* Discuss how supporting education, especially
women's education, can be a conservation tool.
In this light, USAID's support of programs such
as the Girl's and Women's Education Program
of the Office of Women in Development is seen
as support for environment and natural resource
* Discuss in small groups how the PIP participa-
tory processes not only promote conservation
and support for protected areas but can be vital in
strengthening social organization and democratic
institutions, including women's rights. In the
large group brainstorm how those working with
democracy and governance issues can collabo-
rate with the environment sector to learn from
and support each other.


This training guide was written as a result of the
Parks in Peril mid-term evaluation and responds to
one of the evaluation recommendations, "to docu-
ment the PIP experience with gender" (TRD 1998).
From the evaluation emerged many valuable exam-
ples of the importance of gender to good conserva-
tion. By completing the exercises in the guide, the
staff of protected areas and their partners in the
communities in and around the reserves will have
begun to capture the conceptual richness and partici-
patory methods that attention to gender can bring to
the conservation of biodiversity. Such training results
in valuable skills that range from the ability to decon-
struct language that keeps us from fully understand-
ing how men and women use natural resources to
examining institutional structures that exclude
women. Although the examples in the guide are from
Latin America the concepts and exercises are appro-
priate anywhere in the world. There is no doubt that
the gender variable is a central component for those
practicing community conservation.

Chen, Marty and J. Dreuze
1992 Widows and Well-Being in Rural North
India. Discussion paper No. 40: London
School of Economics.
Dixon-Mueller, R. and R. Anker
1988 Assessing Women's Economic Contri-
butions to Development. International
Labor Organization: Geneva.
Gammage, Sarah et.al.
1999 Population. Consumption, and Environ-
mental Linkages in a Mangrove Ecosys-
tem in the Gulf of Fonseca. International

Center for Research on Women: Wash-
ington, D.C.
Marin, Alexandra Ayala, editor.
1991 Muier v Medio Ambiente. Fundacion
Natura-CEPLAES: Quito, Ecuador.
Owen, Margaret
1996 A World of Widows. Zed Books: Lon-
Rojas, Mary Hill
1998 A Gender-Focused Analysis of the Peru
Environment and Natural Resources
Survey and the Design of a Public Pres-
entation of the Survey.
WIDTECH/USAID:Washington, D.C.
Tropical Research and Development, Inc. (TRD)
1998 Parks in Peril: External Evaluation of
LAC Region. Gainesville, Florida:
USAID and Tropical Research and De-
velopment Inc.
Uldfelder, William et al.
1997 Participatory Conservation: Lessons of
the PALOMAP Study. Working Paper
No. 1. The Nature Conservancy: Ball-
ston, Virginia.
Valdez, Teresa and E. Gomariz.
1995 Latin American Women. Institute de la
Mujer de Espana and FLACSO: Santi-
ago, Chile.

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