The gender dimensions of biodiversity: Facts and figures

  • Women have been recognized as users and custodians of biological diversity. In countries like Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Viet Nam, Indonesia and India they are responsible for the selection, improvement and storage of seeds and management of small livestock.
  • Men and women’s knowledge of the forest is different because they use different forest resources. Women are more likely to collect berries, fruit, or twigs and small branches for fuel from a tree, while men will cut down the same tree to sell as firewood or for use in construction.
  • In a study in Sierra Leone, women could name 31 uses of trees on fallow land and in the forest, while men named eight different uses. This shows how men and women have distinct realms of knowledge and application for natural resource management, both of which are necessary for sustainable use and conservation.
  • Women and men often have different knowledge about, and preference for, plants and animals. Women’s criteria for choosing certain food crop seeds may include cooking time, meal quality, taste, resistance to bird damage and ease of collection, processing, preservation and storage (Aguilar, 2004). For example, maize varieties preferred by women are the most resistant to the local weather, the most nutritious and give the highest tortilla yields; these maize varieties are different from the ones grown for commercial proposes.
  • Decision making is an important function in forest user groups and requires the participation of the whole community; however, not all forest projects have been able to include women successfully. In Bamdibhirkhoria, Nepali women cannot participate because they are busy in their home gardens, and collecting forest products.

Source: Gender and Biodiversity (pdf), Lorena Aguilar, Gabriela Mata and Andrea Quesada-Aguilar, International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2010

Back to top