Exploring Ways to Better Address Gender Issues in the TAI Network

By Elizabeth Moses (Posted: October 14, 2015)

Since its inception, TAI’s emphasis on the fundamental importance of ensuring everyone have the right and ability to participate in decisions that affect their livelihood and environment has put our work at the forefront of the environmental movement. We have assembled an impressive suite of tools and tactics to strengthen our evidence based advocacy including the TAI assessment, The Environmental Democracy Index, and our partnerships and joint projects at the local, national, regional, and international level.

But as growing evidence highlights the need to consider gender issues in environmental and natural resource management programs, it is time to ask ourselves, are we missing an important opportunity to strengthen our network by not having a TAI gender strategy?

By all accounts TAI has implemented some important gender focused work. In 2010, TAI published A Seat at the Table, which recognized the division of labor as an important consideration when investigating the high costs of participation. The Secretariat also worked with the Women Research Instituteto lead a pilot project in Indonesia investigating gender and women’s participation in the forest concession allocation process.

During the 5th Global Gathering in Colombia last year, TAI held a preliminary session to brainstorm mainstreaming gender ideas into the network. We also learned that many partners already have ongoing projects that incorporate a gendered perspective. This includes

  • Partners in India working with BothEnds including the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) on a number of gender projects.
  • Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme (BDCPC) in Cameroon working to increase women in decision making and investigating how climate change affects the rich differently than the poor and women more than men.
  • Institute for Law and Environmental Governance (ILEG) implementing a project about gender inclusive natural resource governance through enhanced use of media and communication with the Africa Woman and Child Foundation (AWC)

Multiple members have expressed an interest in defining a comprehensive strategy for building their capacity to address gender issues as well as expand the network to incorporate more women’s organization. As a first step toward developing a gender strategy the Secretariat will be conducting a survey of members to gain an understanding of where we stand as a network. The goal of this survey will be to assess

  • the capacity and current gender related activities of members
  • priority gender issues within country contexts and how they connect to the access pillars and priority environmental issues/sectors
  • challenges and opportunities for members within their organization
  • the opportunity and priorities for the network as a whole
  • the role partners see for TAI to support these efforts nationally and internationally

With guidance from WRI’s new Senior Gender Advisor, Natalie Elwell, the survey is scheduled to go out to members in October. Once completed we will write up and share a report compiling the survey results and create recommendations on how to move forward.

We hope this survey is the beginning of the conversation around gender, our work and our network. Women play an important role in natural resource management and contribute unique knowledge and skills that greatly impact the success or failure of proposed solutions. Our hope is that collecting and sharing this information will allow TAI to identify new opportunities to work together and support development of robust gender based strategies that incorporate gender disaggregated data. To remain on the vanguard of environmental democracy we must effectively demonstrate how gender impacts access to information, participation, and justice in environmental decision-making. Thanks in advance for your enthusiastic participation!