Technical Resource Series 4: UN-REDD Methodological Brief on Gender

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The loss of natural forests through deforestation and forest degradation is estimated to now account for about one fourth of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.2 Forests not only serve as an essential carbon reserve, they also provide livelihoods, subsistence and income for more than 1.6 billion of the global poor. Those who rely on forests for their livelihoods are among the poorest people on the planet, and they are disproportionately women.

Further, women and men’s specific roles, rights and responsibilities, as well as their particular use patterns and knowledge of forests, shape their experiences differently. As such, gender- differentiated needs, uses and knowledge of the forest are critical inputs to policy and programmatic interventions that will enable the long-term success of REDD+3 on the ground.4 However, given various social, economic, and cultural inequalities and legal impediments, particularly within the forest sector, women (and often other marginalised groups, such as indigenous people, the poor, youth, and handicapped, etc.) within many societies continue to experience ongoing exclusion that limit their ability to fully participate in, contribute to, and benefit from REDD+.5 It is therefore crucial that deliberate and meaningful efforts are taken to ensure REDD+ action is inclusive, fair and gender responsive both in policy and in practice.

It is widely acknowledged that gender equality and women's empowerment are catalysts for reaching sustainable development, including in REDD+. Acknowledging this critical role of gender in sustainable development, UN-REDD has been taking active steps to systematically promote gender equality and a human rights-based approach in its work since its formulation in 2008. These efforts involve utilizing a multi-pronged approach with gender. Support has been provided both at the global level, with tools, guidance and reporting on gender and REDD+, as well as at the national level, with assistance provided in integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment principles within nationally- led REDD+ action. UN-REDD’s approach on gende r has also centered on establishing linkages and connections with other UN-REDD thematic areas, such as governance, REDD+ national strategies/action plans (NS/APs), policies and measures (PAMs), safeguards, multiple benefits and stakeholder engagement. This has helped to promote an integrated approach to gender, wherein it is addressed both as a stand-alone as well as cross-cutting issue in UN-REDD’s work. This Methodological Brief outlines steps to proactively strengthen UN-REDD’s Gender Approach in country operations to help partner countries achieve gender-responsive REDD+ in the design and implementation of the four key elements of REDD+ [i.e. NS/ AP, national forest monitoring system (NFMS), safeguards information system (SIS) and forest reference emission level / forest reference level (FREL/FRL)], as defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)7. Similarly, it also supports UN-REDD partner countries to systematically integrate gender-responsive activities in corresponding common REDD+ thematic areas (e.g. governance, stakeholder engagement, drivers of deforestation and forest degradation (DDFD), PAMs, safeguards, etc.). With this enhanced conceptual and practical focus, emphasis is placed on going beyond gender-sensitive action, such as ‘recognizing’ and ‘doing no harm’, to instead achieve a gender-responsive approach of ‘doing better’ and ‘changing’ the course of actions so they advance gender equality and women’s empowerment and thereby, also more sustainable REDD+ processes and outcomes. This means that steps will be taken to help advance gender equality and women’s empowerment, change gender norms and achieve gender equitable outcomes. 

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