What has gender got to do with biodiversity?

25 October 2010 | News story

Gender equality is fundamental to sustainable development and to attaining the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, including the eradication of poverty and hunger. This is the aim of gender mainstreaming, which focuses on shifting the existing power relationships, and bringing the roles and needs of women and men high on the development agenda.

Although nature is equally important to all of us, women and men use it in different ways, have different knowledge about it and have access to different natural resources. At the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), currently taking place in Nagoya IUCN’s Global Senior Gender Adviser Lorena Aguilar, explains more:

But in order to make sure that both men and women are taken into account in conservation efforts, we first need to focus on those that are less empowered: women.

Women make up 70 percent of the world’s poor and provide up to 80 percent of food in developing countries, yet their voices are rarely heard when decisions are made on agriculture and the environment. In India, women provide 75 percent of labour for transplanting and weeding rice, yet fewer than 10 percent actually own land. An analysis of credit schemes in five African countries found that women received less than 10 percent of the amount of credit awarded to male smallholders.

According to the United Nations official 2010 report on progress made towards development, "Gender equality and the empowerment of women are at the heart of the MDGs and are preconditions for overcoming poverty, hunger and disease. But progress has been sluggish on all fronts—from education to access to political decision making."

Gender is also present at the CBD meeting in Nagoya. IUCN wants to make sure that progress is made in Nagoya so that gender considerations are taken into account by the Parties in their post-2010 plan to halt biodiversity loss.
”This is just the beginning of a long process,” says Lorena Aguilar. ”But we have always been very strong and we will make sure that our efforts will succeed.”

During a press conference at the CBD meeting, Lorena Aguilar, together with Marie Khan, Gender Focal Point of the CBD, Rachel Harris, Advocacy Coordinator for Women, Environment and Development Organization, Akiko Domoto, Japanese Journalist, former Governor of Chiba Prefecture in Japan and ex-parliamentarian, Loreen Jubitana, Director of VIDS-DRS (Indigenous representative from Surinam) and Camila Moreno, who works in Brazil and Latin America on social and environmental dimensions of biotechnology and agribusiness expansion in the region, presented the challenges and the importance of gender mainstreaming in biodiversity, hoping that their voices are heard and gender issues soon win a more prominent place on the development agenda.

For more information please contact:

Lorena Aguilar, IUCN’s Global Senior Gender Adviser, e-mail: Lorena.Aguilar@iucn.org


This image shows the courtship behavior of Indian Bull frogs (Holobatrachus tigerinus). During the monsoon, the breeding males become bright yellow in color, while females remain dull. The prominent blue vocal sacs of male produce strong nasal mating call.