A new report based on case studies from the ‘GENNOVATE: Enabling gender equality in agricultural and environmental innovation’ comparative qualitative research initiative presents findings from Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan that shed light on how gender norms shape, and are influenced by, forest and tree-based innovation processes.
By Giulia Micheletti and Marlène Elias
What do gender norms, innovation and trees have to do with each other?
An estimated 1.6 billion people live in and around and depend in part or in full from forests for their livelihoods and well-being. Yet, the benefits from forests, trees and agroforests are unequally distributed across communities based on the gender, socioeconomic status, generation or age, and other social characteristics of their members. These inequalities make it even more difficult for already disadvantaged groups to benefit from new opportunities and innovations in agriculture and natural resource management (NRM).
Innovation processes related to agricultural and NRM — whether centered on technologies (e.g. hybrid seed or mechanization) or institutions (e.g. new knowledge applied to NRM or ways of organizing production) — can reduce some of these inequalities, or they can exacerbate them. And gender norms, or the social ‘rules’ that determine appropriate behaviour for men and women, that maintain these inequalities can hinder women’s capacities to innovate. For example, norms that pose constraints on women’s mobility or labour or that make it socially inappropriate for women farmers to interact with men extension agents in some contexts, can make it difficult for them to try out and adopt new practices.