Gender and REDD+: Analyzing women’s roles in sub-national initiatives

To be published

Larson AM, Dokken T, Duchelle A, Atmadja S, Resosudarmo IAP, Cronkleton P, Cromberg M, Sunderlin W, Awono A and Selaya G.

While the potential of REDD+ to help or harm forest-based communities has been widely discussed among researchers and practitioners, the authors of this soon-to-be published article argue that less attention has been devoted to potential gendered implications of the program. Based on research in 69 villages in 18 REDD+ sites across five countries (Brazil, Cameroon, Indonesia, Tanzania and Vietnam), the research focused on the following main questions: (i) Do women have a voice in decision-making in villages at REDD+ project sites in the sample? (ii) How do women use and manage forests and to what extent do they participate in forest rule-making?; and (iii) How do REDD+ project proponents address women’s interests and how does knowledge of REDD+ project vary between women and men?

The research drew on gender-disaggregated data from village surveys and separate focus-group discussion with women and men to elicit data on perceptions of women’s participation in community decision-making, use of forest products and knowledge of REDD+ processes at the planning stages of REDD+.

Some of the major findings of the study were as follows:

  • The representation on village committees did not reflect the general perception about participation and influence in the village. Overall, the average share of women in the main decision-making body was 17%. And yet 61% of the participants agreed that women were sufficiently represented in important village decision-making bodies, 64% agreed that they were usually able to influence village decisions and 79% agreed that women participated actively in meetings. Across the 68 villages with a functioning main decision-making body, the degree to which women perceived themselves, as a group, to be sufficiently represented in the body was positively, but only weakly, correlated (0.17) with the share of women in the body. Further, the share of women that agreed that they were able to influence village decisions when they wanted to, was not correlated (0.03) with the share of women in the body.
  • There was no clear relationship between women’s participation in forest-use decisions and how women and men used the forest. The data suggest that women were not included in forest resource decision-making, even when they went into the forest as much, or more often than men, with the exception of Cameroon.
  • There were fewer women with a basic understanding of REDD+ across the research sites and women’s access to information on REDD+ lagged behind men’s. Women’s involvement was limited to participating in meetings or training sessions. Women played limited or no role in clarifying land rights, carbon monitoring and rule enforcement.

The researchers conclude that promoting women’s participation alone is insufficient and that REDD+ initiatives must explore the ways in which men and women differ with regard to key processes related to REDD+ implementation in their respective sites. This includes household and village decision-making, management of land and natural resources, and information dissemination. This information will be crucial in ensuring that REDD+ implementation on the ground can lead to the effective engagement of men and women, encouraging greater awareness and understanding of gender and forests, and laying the groundwork for community empowerment and informed participation in REDD+.

To learn more about this project, contact  Anne Larson,