Gender, Peace and Security in Natural Resource Management: Land, forest and water management in the Asia Pacific
Based on an analysis of 11 countries, this research brief summarizes, explains and furthers the understanding of the linkages between gender, security and natural resource management (NRM) in the Asia-Pacific region by analysing the land, water and forestry sectors. Although countries traditionally view NRM as separate from women, peace and security issues, NRM is a field in which the currents and risks of climate change, conflict, security and gender-based disadvantages concretely intersect. This is particularly evident in a resource-rich context like the Asia-Pacific region. It is therefore important to monitor and better understand how NRM impacts these areas and women’s lives and to map the space that women have to participate in and influence decision-making.
The Asia-Pacific region’s natural resources, among the richest and most diverse in the world, provide jobs and livelihoods for millions of people. Women and men often use and benefit from natural resources in accordance with their gender roles and economic and social statuses. In many contexts, women are key gatherers and suppliers of natural resources and rely on them for sustenance and livelihoods. However, their rights and access to natural resources and their profits tend to be tenuous. Although women bear the full impact of environmental degradation, climate change and conflict, they remain largely excluded and their voices and perspectives are missing from NRM decision-making spaces. Further, when natural resources become contested, competed over or otherwise under pressure, women have little space or power to take part in negotiating, deciding or mediating outcomes.
There is significant potential to expand women’s engagement from the local and community levels to the highest levels of decision-making, policymaking and legislative review and change. Better and more inclusive NRM with women’s full involvement, capitalizing on their knowledge and responsiveness to their needs, can help keep communities more peaceful and secure. With women taking on active roles in identifying- ing locally rooted solutions, this can ultimately help preempt and mitigate security risks caused by diminished access to resources, competition over natural resources, growing food and livelihood insecurity, displacement and migration.