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What is Gender and Biodiversity?

Gender roles affect economic, political, social and ecological opportunities and constraints faced by both men and women. Recognizing women’s roles as primary land and resource managers is central to the success of biodiversity policy. For example, women farmers currently account for 60-80% of all food production in developing countries, but gender often remains overlooked in decision-making on access to and the use of biodiversity resources.

The importance of biodiversity to individuals varies according to gender. Based upon the social roles of and power relations between men and women, gender is shaped by culture, social relations, and natural environments. For this reason, we need to incorporate gender dimensions into our understanding of biodiversity and its conservation, sustainable use and the sharing of its benefits.

Just as the impact of biodiversity loss is disproportionately felt by poorer communities, there are also disparities along gender lines. Biodiversity loss affects access to education and gender equality by increasing the time spent by women and children in performing certain tasks, such as collecting valuable resources and services such as fuel, food and water.

To conserve biodiversity, we need to understand and expose gender-differentiated biodiversity practices, gendered knowledge acquisition and usage. Various studies demonstrate that projects integrating gender dimensions generate superior results. Gender considerations are not solely a women’s issue; instead, this outlook could yield advantages for whole communities and benefit both sexes.

Exposing and understanding the gender-differentiated biodiversity practices and knowledge of women and men enhances biodiversity conservation. Many case studies from around the world have demonstrated that in empowering women to participate as equals in information sharing and generation, education and training, technology transfer, organizational development, financial assistance and policy development, biodiversity conservation efforts become more effective and efficient.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme