Feminist forest frameworks – policy brief

The intertwined crises of biodiversity loss, deforestation and ecosystem degradation are increasing at alarming rates, with devastating consequences for both people and planet. Unfortunately, we find that too little (mainstream) attention is yet being paid to gender-differentiated issues. Often because of underlying gender inequalities, women (and girls) in all their diversity tend to use forests and biodiversity differently; are less likely to have secure land tenure rights; are under-represented in governance; face specific gendered threats in their activism and have less access to or control over natural resources. Yet far from being passive victims, women are key agents of change in sustainably protecting and conserving forest ecosystems.

Since the Netherlands is an actor with a strong history of gender advocacy in the EU and global policy arenas, WECF has conducted a feminist analysis of key forest and biodiversity policies, regulations, and strategies of the Dutch government. We found that most Dutch and EU policy documents are either entirely lacking a gender perspective or they are gender-sensitive, at most. Even if references are made to gendered dimensions – and this is not always the case – they are not backed up by concrete strategies, goals, and actions to address structural inequalities, intersectionality, or promote the meaningful participation of women in decision-making and governance. More encouraging is Dutch programming – including financial support to civil society – which can be described as gender-sensitive to gender-responsive.

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This policy analysis has been undertaken as part of WECF’s engagement as gender technical partners of the Green Livelihoods Alliance ‘Forests for a Just Future’ programme.