Increasing Participation and Leadership in Environment Programs

Supporting women's groups in Tanzania as they grow native trees from seedlings and distribute them area-wide for planting.
African Wildlife Foundation

Understanding how gender roles and relations impact natural resource management and planning for climate change is essential.

It is also critical to involve women and men in developing strategies that meet the needs of and empower all those who use natural resources. Men and women are vulnerable to both environmental degradation and the increasing threats from a changing climate. 

Recent studies show that women are more adversely affected by natural disasters because of social norms that constrain their ability to prepare for and overcome hazards and to adapt to the altered livelihoods they impose. 

Decades of programming to improve gender equality in the management of natural resources show that strategies to increase the effective participation of women in decision-making and leadership and to more equitably distribute resources, lead to improved outcomes for both women and men.

USAID integrates gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Agency’s work on climate change and natural resource management by:

  • Conducting comprehensive gender analyses in each sector.
  • Supporting projects that help reduce gaps in knowledge, skills and participation.
  • Systematically gathering evidence on how environment-related projects affect men and women differently.

USAID is already leading by example in emerging fields such as the carbon market from forest conservation (“Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” or REDD+).

The Agency has identified entry points for addressing disparities at both community and policy levels and is working closely with partners to engage women as equal stakeholders, beneficiaries and leaders.  For this and other initiatives in the environmental sectors, USAID draws evidence from programming in land, water and forest management for proven approaches that advance gender equality and improve development outcomes.

These initiatives include:

  • Assisting women to generate earnings from non-timber forest products to increase household income, reducing the need for men to engage in illegal logging.
  • Training women forest patrols to prevent illegal logging. The patrols gather resources in groups so they are protected against violence (Learn more).
  • Supporting female African scientists to develop innovations that improve health and water quality in their communities (Learn more).
  • Training local women leaders on environmental issues and builds their skills to negotiate for their interests, while sensitizing male leaders on the value of women’s contributions.

Last updated: May 30, 2012

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