Women’s Inclusion in REDD+ in Sri Lanka Lessons from Good Practices in Forest, Agriculture and Other Natural Resources Management Sectors
The study is a part of the Joint Initiative of WOCAN, the UN-REDD Programme and USAID-funded LEAF Project to investigate practical entry points for women’s inclusion in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) policies and practices. It explores the current status of policies and practices related to gender integration in forestry and other natural resource management sectors in Sri Lanka, and their relation to REDD+ initiatives. It briefly analyses the current policies and practices, indicating the gaps between policies and practice. An effort is being made to identify the elements that prevent the inclusion of women in REDD+ in Sri Lanka, as well as the factors that enable their inclusion in policies and practices.
The government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has shown its commitment to develop and implement REDD+ policies, under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment. However, there are currently no policies or institutions in place with a commitment to integrate gender sensitivity in forest and other natural resources management sectors in the country. The Women’s Extension Services of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Women’s Bureau of the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs have the mandate to empower women and their organizations with a focus on agriculture and livelihood development.
Barriers identified in this study to the inclusion of gender and women in these sectors include traditional ideologies and gender norms; lack of gender awareness; limited institutional capacities to collect gender disaggregated data and baseline information; lack of gender indicators and monitoring and evaluation frameworks; perceptions within the forest sector institutions; lack of women’s organizations to facilitate the process; and a limited national commitment for gender mainstreaming. Within the country Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP), it is mentioned that women play an important role in the forest sector, but no strategic framework has been used to include women and gender into its development processes. The Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs (MCDWA) and some NGOs focusing on gender issues have a high level of interest but their limited technical knowledge on REDD+ restricts them from engaging in the REDD+ readiness process. It is also important to note that the experience of rural women’s engagement in the forest sector activities, even without planning and support, has led to assumptions that this will happen automatically and result in the successful implementation of REDD+ without the need for policies and practices to assure women’s inclusion.
Good practices identified in this study highlight the opportunities for women’s inclusion and gender integration in REDD+, forest and natural resources management sectors in Sri Lanka. These follow the classified key factors identified in the Regional Scoping Study Report which include ensuring women’s representation and participation; facilitation and capacity building for women’s participation; skill building; gender disaggregated analysis and planning to meet women’s livelihood needs; labour saving
and time reducing technologies; existence of women-only groups, women’s networks and federations; presence of gender champions and women leaders; equitable benefit sharing mechanisms; and initiatives for enterprise development and credit provision.