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Gender and Equity Issues in Liquid Biofuels Production - Minimizing the Risks to Maximize the Opportunities.

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Y. Lambrou
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What are the potential gender-differentiated risks associated with the large-scale production of liquid biofuels (such as bioethanol and biodiesel) in developing countries? What further research is required to develop a better understanding of these risks, and what policies need to be put in place? This paper represents a first attempt to go beyond the traditional gender and biofuels debate (which has tended to focus on the gender-differentiated health impacts of solid biofuels use) to explore how the environmental and socio-economic transformations prompted by increasing biofuels production could have gendered impacts in developing countries. It argues that men and women within the same household, as well as male and female-headed households, could face different risks that exacerbate existing inequalities in their access to and control of land and other productive assets, their level of participation in decision-making and socioeconomic activities, employment opportunities and conditions, and their food security. The paper makes numerous recommendations, including::- Conduct field-assessments of the gender-differentiated effects of liquid biofuels production:- Establish co-operatives for smallholder farmers in biofuels production (particularly women) to increase their access to land, capital and technology;:- Promote the use of non-edible perennial crops (i.e. those that can be harvested each year) for biofuels that require less water and can be grown on degraded lands, to reduce tensions between fuel and food production.:- Ensure that dedicated energy crop plantations integrate - rather than replace - existing local agri-food systems by protecting traditional agricultural activities, skills and specialised knowledge held by women and girls.

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