When the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was agreed 25 years ago, the gender agenda it sparked was expected to open up economic sectors as well as leadership and education opportunities for marginalized groups, largely women and girls, but also men.
Without a doubt, there has been good progress. But we are nowhere near where we need to be. Especially if we want to stop climate change and ensure that vulnerable groups do not bear the greatest impacts.
RECOFTC launched a program in 2019 to cultivate gender champions and deepen their influence and impact. The three-year Weaving Leadership for Gender Equality initiative, known as WAVES, has built a network of 31 gender leaders who are influencing gender equality in climate change, REDD+ and forestry, law enforcement, governance and trade policies and processes in seven Asian-Pacific countries.
“The approach to gender mainstreaming has been failing to achieve the vision of the Beijing Platform for years,” says Kalpana Giri, a forester and social-environmental specialist with RECOFTC who leads the WAVES program. “We need to correct that with a paradigm shift that makes gender equality the core business of development cooperation everywhere, including forestry.”
“WAVES leaders are proving what can be done,” Giri says.
The leaders include academics, journalists, government officials and directors of civil society organizations from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Viet Nam. They are reviving and driving the gender agenda and reminding their societies that the goal is inclusion and social justice.
“We need to correct that with a paradigm shift that makes gender equality the core business of development cooperation everywhere, including forestry.” – Kalpana Giri
Through WAVES, leaders are applying the guiding call of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They believe that women and men must access and benefit from the world’s resources fairly and equally and in ways that improve their well-being and that of their communities and the environment.
A female village chief in Cambodia grows a community forestry credit scheme into a self-generating source of income for the community and the protection of the forest, despite obstacles.