photo: ILRI-Mann

Guest Author: Stella Gama, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Malawi

In my view an effective REDD+ approach is linked to the engagement of all relevant stakeholders, regardless of gender, and to the promotion of equality and equity in terms of participation in decision-making and access to benefits. Specific attention to women’s needs and contributions is key to efficient REDD+ strategies and activities, and the UN-REDD Programme is helping to guide countries conceptually and methodologically in addressing the gender considerations of REDD+.

The UNFCCC ‘Cancun Agreements’ call for the integration of gender considerations within REDD+ national strategies, and this is reflected in the UN-REDD Programme Strategy 2011-2015, which makes numerous references to gender equality and equity. Moreover, integrating gender sensitive activities in REDD+ efforts can help improve the efficiency, efficacy and the long-term sustainability of forest management.

Malawi joined the UN-REDD Programme in 2013 – we wanted to be part of the global REDD+ network to benefit from the capacity development, and technical and financial support provided by the UN-REDD Programme to implement REDD+ activities. Thirty per cent of Malawi’s land area was once covered in forest. Since 1992, there has been a high deforestation rate, according to statistics 2.8 per cent annually, so we hope to increase forest cover through engaging with REDD+ activities and to enhance sustainable forest management strategies.

There are other advantages — working with the UN-REDD Programme also means having a wider platform. The Programme has created a platform for sharing lessons and best practices particularly for countries who have advanced, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, only to learn from other countries and from the mistakes which have already been made and giving us a pool of knowledge to draw on. Other advantages include support for REDD+ preparedness activities. Malawi has developed a REDD+ Roadmap through support from the US, and now through collaboration with the UN-REDD Programme we will get immediate support in order to implement some of the activities in the roadmap, and address governance and monitoring, reporting and verification. Ultimately we hope we are going to benefit from a national programme.

One of our challenges is that in the past we have had disjointed sector coordination. REDD+ is not just about the forestry sector. We can ensure that we embrace other sectors, and draw a wider range of stakeholders into REDD+, we are looking at the Green Economy approach and livelihoods, sustainable forest management agriculture, biodiversity conservation and other multiple core-benefits.

The opportunities presented by REDD+ can potentially create a fairer gender balance in forestry decision-making. In Malawi we have both matrilineal societies and patrilineal societies. REDD+ represents an opportunity to involve women and offer a greater participation in society, and also to enhance the benefits that women get from REDD+. With regard to benefits it is about the access and control of benefits, e.g. secure forest land tenure from REDD+ due to the need to consider women’s contributions in REDD+ implementation.

During discussions for developing the National REDD+ Strategies – Africa, gender mainstreaming was on the table. This will also help to enable even better gender balance. Specifically with the inclusion of gender-sensitive safeguards in the development of national REDD+ programmes in order to develop a gender-transformative strategy so that the new paradigm specifically contributes to the advancement of gender equality while safeguarding women’s rights, thereby contributing to climate change solutions. In addition, use of the affirmative action to ensure gender balance in REDD+ Academy. The tools designed for training delivery should integrate gender. We also need gender balance indicators for participation as well as impact of REDD+ activities — for both women and men.


Stella GamaBio: Stella Gama is the REDD+ focal point for Malawi at the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining. Ms. Gama discussed gender mainstreaming while participating in the UN-REDD Programme Workshop “Regional South-South Exchange – Africa: Developing National REDD+ Strategies” Workshop, being convened in Nairobi at UNEP, 14-17 October 2014.  View workshop agenda.