Gender Integration in REDD+ and ERPD in Nepal

September 28, 2017

From January through May, 2017, WOCAN was contracted by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of the World Bank to conduct a gender assessment at the district and community level within the Emissions Reduction Program area to provide baseline information on the various social, economic and political conditions that women face in the forest sector, and to identify opportunities and real benefits that could be possible through REDD+ interventions.

In order to guide effective integration of gender within the forest sector, WOCAN included an assessment of the relevant forest agencies as well. The assessment is complemented by an Action Plan that identifies a roadmap of activities based on the findings of the assessment to help to make the REDD+ ER program and strategies more gender responsive and assure women can obtain real benefits. The assessment also contributes to SESA and ESMF implementation.

A review of Nepal’s policies and practices for gender integration in forestry shows that despite policy mandates provided in Nepal’s GESI (Gender Equality and Social Inclusion) strategy and vision, the forest sector has not achieved effective gender integration in programming, budgeting, and monitoring and evaluation, even after concerted effort by different agencies. However, good practices generated in Nepal’s development of civil society and devolution in forest management provides a solid basis for developing a GESI responsive ER Program.

The assessment team, comprised of WOCAN, HIMAWANTI and REDD Implementation Center staff, employed participatory methods, using Focus Group Discussions and interviews to obtain data from 585 members (384 women and 201 men) of Community Forestry and Collaborative Forestry User Groups in six Terai and one hill district of Nepal, and a multistakeholder meeting in Kathmandu.

Key findings show that:

1) There is a high level of engagement of rural women in labor- intensive forest- related activities on a daily basis, but low level of their engagement in decision-making processes. Forest management tasks are highly gendered, with women performing the majority of the unpaid tasks; men dominate almost all key forest management-related decision-making processes.

2) Women’s workloads within and outside the household is high and “time poverty” is a critical issue. Their traditional roles as family care givers and food producers are unpaid and under-valued, and take up most of women’s time and energy. Firewood remains a major source of energy for cooking.

3) Women’s access to resources that reinforce their unpaid traditional roles is high, while it is low for resources that can improve their income, roles in decision-making and status in society. Socially, economically, and politically advantaged women benefit more than other women from forest activities; women from socially and economically marginalized groups such as Dalits, Botes, Mahjhis, and Mushars have very little access and influence over community decision-making processes and resources.

4) The existence of several layers of powerful and exclusive leadership mechanisms at district and local levels poses a threat to the effective implementation of REDD+ and the ERP.

5) A lack of GESI implementation guidelines, systematic structures, resources, skills, at central, district and community levels has made the implementation of the GESI Strategy within forest-related programs challenging. There is limited or no expertise, budgets or implementation guidelines within forest agencies. There is still a low percentage of female professional staff, and the GESI Focal Points do not have formal responsibilities or receive training or incentives. 

6) Existing organizational structures both at central and local levels have limited the space for GESIresponsive decision-making processes or innovation. Progressive decision-makers and staff who want to bring change are dominated and influenced by those who are less supportive of GESI policies and practices.

7) There is a need for changes in organizational cultures and attitudes to accept women as professionals and leaders.

A Gender Action Plan provides indicators and activities within the six categories of activities of the ERPD, based on these key findings, to achieve gender integration in Nepal’s REDD+ and Emissions Reductions Program.

Read the full report: 

Watch the assessment video: Women: Undervalued Stewards of the Forests