WAVES - Weaving Leadership for Gender Equality

Weaving Leadership for Gender Equality

Weaving Leadership for Gender Equality, or WAVES, is a RECOFTC initiative promoting gender equality in the governance, management and use of forest landscapes and their resources in the Asia-Pacific region.

Gender inequalities remain entrenched in the Asia-Pacific region. This is particularly evident with respect to the governance, management and use of forests and natural resources. Compared to men, women in forest landscapes tend to have weaker rights and fewer resources, less say in decision-making, hold fewer positions of authority, have less access to justice, and so on. Women face challenges to their legitimacy as crucial actors in such landscapes. 

RECOFTC believes that gender equality will lead to more equitable resource management and healthier, more resilient forests. Increased women's participation will lead to improvements in local natural resource governance, conservation efforts and sustainable livelihoods, contributing to lives lived with security and dignity.

RECOFTC established WAVES based on the idea that having stronger leadership and expertise will improve policymaking and investments in ways that promote gender equality, and social inclusion more broadly. Creating transformative change requires identifying and supporting individuals working in natural resource management who can advocate for and negotiate such change on an institutional level. 

That’s why RECOFTC’s WAVES initiative has built a network of 31 gender leaders from seven countries and is supporting them as they advocate for equality and lead gender-mainstreaming programs in their communities and institutions. 

RECOFTC launched the three-year WAVES program in March 2019. It is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). 

Supporting gender champions

The leaders that WAVES is supporting include technical experts, senior government officials, politicians, academics, directors and officers of civil society organizations, local community leaders, business managers and journalists. They come from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Viet Nam. Most are women. Brief profiles of 26 of these leaders are online here.

RECOFTC assessed and selected these participants according to their commitment and ability to achieve results. These gender leaders were already working towards a more equitable future within local governments, forest bureaucracy, and community spheres. They have the vision and drive to provide concrete actions for change. 

WAVES helps these gender leaders to maximize their potential by cultivating leadership skills, mentoring, and providing technical and financial support as they implement action plans. Through regular mentoring and psychosocial support, WAVES helps gender leaders to create new narratives and visions in leading gender equality efforts and amplify their work by linking them with wider networks and collaborators. 

Through these actions, the participating gender leaders are challenging conventional ways of thinking and promoting gender equality in policies and processes related to climate change, REDD+ and forestry, forest law enforcement, governance and trade. They are reviving and driving the gender agenda and reminding their societies that the goal is inclusion and social justice for all. 

WAVES aims to:

  1. Equip leaders with the knowledge and capacity to understand, design and implement gender-equality measures in forest landscapes.
  2. Build women’s leadership skills to promote gender equality across public agencies, the private sector and local communities, and work with men as allies to support gender equality.
  3. Support leaders to integrate gender equality into policies, investments and actions.

What has WAVES achieved so far?

At the first WAVES workshop in 2019, the gender leaders learned about barriers to equality, how these barriers are deeply socialised by themselves and others, and how to challenge dominant norms and values constructively. The workshop strengthened self-awareness, leadership and negotiation skills, identified possible shifts for gender equality, and tasked the gender leaders to create time-bound action plans that would further gender equality.

Since then, WAVES has been supporting the gender leaders as they implement these plans. Examples of progress under the WAVES program include the following: 

  • In Indonesia, a gender leader changed her organization’s rule that pregnant women could not attend training, and set up a day-care facility for trainees’ children. 
  • Another Indonesian leader integrated gender issues into her university’s forestry curriculum. 
  • In Cambodia, gender leaders influenced the country’s gender action policy and strategy. 
  • In Nepal, WAVES support enabled participants to develop a plan to cultivate 300 gender leaders in their field over the next two years through training, webinars and career counselling.
  • In Viet Nam, a company director changed the company’s policies to be more gender-sensitive and ensured equality by including the names of both husband and wife in legal contract documents.
  • In Lao PDR, gender leaders from government and local organizations have strengthened institutional capacity for using a gender-integrated database system for FLEGT and REDD+ program planning.
  • In Thailand, WAVES training helped women in local forest networks to take on leadership positions and make decisions for their communities.
  • In Myanmar, WAVES facilitated online gender dialogues that link to community forestry policy and decision-making processes.

Find out more

Contact to learn more about the WAVES initiative and to collaborate.