Gender and sustainable development in drylands: an analysis of field experiences

Gender and sustainable development in drylands: an analysis of field experiences

Lessons to counter gender-blind drylands management

With an estimated 40 percent of people in Africa, South America and Asia living in drylands, land degradation poses a significant threat to food security and survival. This report looks at the relationship between gender and dryland management based on an analysis of field experiences in Africa and Asia. Highlighting the roles of women and men in dryland areas for food security, land conservation/desertification, and the conservation of biodiversity, it makes available key findings on a number of projects and programs in the regions. It also outlines different aspects to be considered for achieving sustainable and gender-sensitive dryland management.

The report classifies the lessons learned into three main categories: drylands, desertification and poverty; gender roles in drylands; and gender roles in biodiversity and land conservation. Based on the 50 case studies, the lessons include:

  • involving local women and men
  • raising awareness and providing education
  • encouraging conservation through income generation
  • strengthening local institutions
  • promoting sustainability
  • integrating and coordinating projects

In order to encourage gender-responsive and sustainable development of drylands, four priorities for immediate gender-responsive action at national and international levels are presented:

  • collection of reliable socio-economic sex- disaggregated data on dryland management activities
  • better understanding of gender roles and how they can be translated into concrete actions in dryland management
  • gender-sensitive analysis and exchange of experiences and good practices to combat desertification and food insecurity
  • actions focussing on the cultural, socio-economic and gender based barriers that prevent men and women from investing in the rehabilitation of agricultural land

Associated with these priorities, more specific recommendations suggest that actions in the drylands should consider:

  • sex-disaggregated data on dryland management activities
  • integrated and gender-responsive approaches
  • programmes and projects with a gender perspective
  • gender-sensitive knowledge of the environment, degradation and poverty nexus
  • removing barriers to women’s and men’s efficient management of drylands
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