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Gender and Biodiversity

Fact Sheets

2015 - A Pivotal Year for Forward Action

  2015 marks an important year for international commitment and action related to gender equality and biodiversity. The 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, shines the international spotlight on gender equality and women's rights issues. This year also marks the deadline for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, and the preparations for the Post-2015 Development Agenda. For the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2015 is the first year of the implementation of its 2015-2020 Gender Plan of Action. This Plan denotes actions by the Secretariat to stimulate and facilitate the promotion of gender equality in its work, and sets out actions for Parties to mainstream gender into their activities under the Convention.

Introduction

Gender refers to the social roles that men and women play and the power relations between them, which can have a profound effect on the use and management of natural resources. Gender is not based on sex or the biological differences between men and women, gender is shaped by culture, social relations and natural environments. Thus, depending on values, norms customs and laws, men and women in different parts of the world have evolved different gender roles.

Gender roles of women and men include different labour responsibilities, decision-making processes, and knowledge. According to their needs, men and women often use and manage resources in different ways. The gender attributions of local knowledge, including knowledge for managing biological systems have four key characteristics (Husinga et al., 2001):

  1. Women and men have knowledge about different things.

  2. Men and women have different knowledge about the same things.

  3. Women and men may organize their knowledge in different ways.

  4. Men and women may receive and transmit their knowledge by different means.

Gender and gender roles affect the economic, political, and social opportunities and constraints faced by both men and women.

The importance of biodiversity to individuals varies according to gender. Stark gender differences are evident in economic opportunities and access to and control over land, biodiversity resources and other productive assets, as well as in vulnerability to biodiversity loss, climate change and natural disasters. As such, we need to incorporate gender dimensions into our understanding of biodiversity and its conservation, sustainable use and the sharing of benefits.

The CBD has developed a 2015-2020 Gender Plan of Action, which defines the Secretariat’s role in stimulating and facilitating efforts, both in-house and with partners and Parties at the national, regional, and global levels to overcome constraints and take advantage of opportunities within its work. It also sets out actions that may be undertaken by Parties to mainstream gender in work under the Convention. The Millennium Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda emphasize clear linkages between gender equality, poverty alleviation, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Such insights should be included into our outlook and approach to reversing biodiversity loss, reducing poverty and improving human wellbeing.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme