Gender is the term used to describe the culturally and socially given attributes, roles, activities and responsibilities associated with being male or female. It is widely acknowledged that women are generally more marginalised than their male peers, and research has shown that men tend to both participate in and benefit more from conservation interventions than do women.

Women and men use natural resources in different ways based on their socially assigned roles. While women often play key roles in natural-resource-based livelihoods, these roles are often less visible than men’s and their views and aspirations – as well as their impact – are easily overlooked. Men generally dominate leadership and decision-making roles in the communities with whom we work, including in customary institutions.

Without an understanding of how both men and women use and control natural resources, conservation interventions can further disadvantage women, so there are ethical arguments for integrating gender into conservation. However, it is also increasingly recognised that conservation is likely to be more effective if it takes a gender-responsive approach.

Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI) Conservation, Livelihoods and Governance programme helps conservation teams to take account of gender-based differences to ensure that women and men have equal opportunities to participate in and benefit from our conservation activities. A key step in this process is to assess the barriers to women’s participation in project design and implementation and take steps to address these. It is also important to collect gender disaggregated data and monitor whether our work has different outcomes for women and men so that we can address these differences where necessary and possible.