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The Force of the Current: Watershed Management with Gender Equity

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J. Siles
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Why is it important to mainstream gender in watershed management? Watersheds are areas constituted by a water system through which water flows and drains. The subject of gender in conservation as well as in the sustainable use of biodiversity has not been addressed by either the organisations seeking to promote a more equitable world for women and men, or environmentalist groups. Aware of this, a group of specialists within the World Conservation Union (IUCN) took on the challenge of making visible the importance of equity in the environmental sector. Gender relations affect the use and management of natural resources. That is, women and men have unequal access to and control over natural resources, which means that they experience the consequences of environmental degradation differently. Rural women play a leading role in shaping the family and community's relationship with the natural environment, by carrying out non-remunerated household tasks. For example, in most cases, women are responsible for gathering firewood, hauling water, rearing animals and backyard agriculture, gathering of non-timber wood species, and informal riverside fishing. Their role as heads of rural households is also increasing, due to male seasonal migration, which adds tasks traditionally considered 'masculine' to their already heavy workload. This document suggests participatory appraisal techniques for assessing watershed management from a gender perspective and stresses the importance of sex-disaggregated statistics and gender-sensitive data collection techniques.

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