Achieving gender equality is a universal issue that has been explicitly recognized and emphasized in UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, initiated as a standalone goal in SDG 5: Gender Equality. In 2018, the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP13) adopted ‘Resolution 18: Gender and Wetlands.’ This initiated that mainstreaming a gender-responsive approach for the wise use of wetland management and conservation is crucial. The importance of empowering women to participate in wetland management has been further recognized in research studies, universal frameworks, and principles such as Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and the 1992 Dublin Principles on Water and Sustainable Development. The studies emphasize that narrowing the gender gaps will ensure more effective and efficient wise-use management of wetlands. Since, women have close interdependency with water resources, especially in their day-to-day livelihood it is crucial for women to be involved in safeguarding the natural resources.
Gender-responsive analysis within EAAFP
EAAFP Committees and Secretariat
The development of the Flyway Site Network (FSN) ensures the sustainable management and conservation of internationally important wetlands. The conservation of migratory waterbirds that rely on these wetlands is at the core of EAAFP’s mission and work. The EAAFP has three committees working at the core of our Secretariat; the Management Committee (MC) oversees the practical operation of the Partnership, the Finance sub-Committee (FsC) provides advice on the sustainable financing and resource mobilization to the Partnership, and the Technical sub-Committee (TsC) provides scientific and technical advice.
The gender representation analysis within EAAFP Committees indicates that the leadership roles are male dominated. Within the EAAFP MC, only 29% are women as shown in Fig. 1. (a). As shown in Fig. 1. (b), there are no women within the EAAFP TsC, however, the EAAFP FsC (as of May, 2021) is more gender-balanced with 43% women involved as indicated in Fig. 1. (c).
EAAFP WG/TF chairs
The 7 EAAFP Working Groups (WG) and 9 Task Forces (TF) are vital to achieve and sustain EAAFP’s mission and work. These groups were established to address issues raised during the Meeting of Partners and they play an important role on the ground.
The gender representation analysis within the leadership roles of the EAAFP WG/TF shows that most men occupy the Chair and Coordinator roles. The role of women is not significant enough as only 1 woman occupies the WG Chair role and only 2 women occupy the TF coordinator roles as indicated in Fig. 2 (a) and Fig. 2 (b).
EAAFP projects with Partners and collaborators
As EAAFP Secretariat encourages the participation of our Partners and collaborators to conserve our migratory waterbirds and their habitats, EAAFP Partners recognizes the importance of mainstreaming gender diversity in the environmental sector. Following is a few of the resources that have been published on EAAFP Partner’s webpage.
- Ramsar: Training Webinar – Mainstreaming Gender under the Convention on Wetlands
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States: Gender webpage
- Convention on Biological Diversity:
- ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity: ASEAN sharpens focus on gender in biodiversity conservation
- Wetlands International: Wetlands International Policy on Gender Equality
- WWF: Global Network Policy: Gender Policy Statement
- IUCN: Gender is linked to the biodiversity and climate crises. When will our policies reflect this?
- Rio Tinto: Why gender matters – a resource guide for integrating gender considerations into communities work at Rio Tinto
Case studies: Myanmar and Japan
A few EAA Flyway government Partners have taken out a forefront role showing win-win scenarios when wise-use wetland projects implement a gender approach. Myanmar and Japan’s case studies highlight the importance of engaging more women to take part in decision-making roles and generating more green jobs. First, in Myanmar, they undertook a bilateral project with Norway known as, “Conservation of Biodiversity and Improved Management of Protected Areas in Myanmar.” They implemented a gender approach for their aim to strengthen the management of Myanmar’s wetlands and protected areas. By engaging more women to become more involved in many livelihood activities, women were able to be more aware of understanding the wetland values and were more active to report illegal fishing activities within the site. The outcome of this project was a success as women were keen to make their living from ecotourism activities rather than unsustainable resource extraction.
Another case study is in Japan. A local guide team was formed known as, the An Girls (guiding women). The team was responsible to share their local knowledge and observations with the visitors who came to Tai District. The establishment of “An Girls” initiated more ecotourism opportunities for women showing how gender approach implementation gave women the opportunity to influence change as they learned the value of wetlands and their contribution to managing the sites.
Today, despite the recognition of women’s pivotal role in wetland management, more often than not women are marginalized in having equal access to influence change. Hence, gender inequality hinders the efforts to capture the benefits and opportunities of wetland conservation for sustainable livelihood, underutilizing knowledge, and human resources.
EAAFP Secretariat aims to promote the concept of gender equity through featuring more stories of women in this field, ‘the EAAFP Flyway Story Series.’
The EAAFP Flyway Story Series features researchers, experts, writers, photographers, and the general public that take part in inspiring conservation initiatives along the EAA Flyway. Since 2019, when the series was first launched, we have published a total of 11 Flyway Stories which the majority feature more women than men.
To perceive women as strong agents of change for wetland management, a few universal principles have been articulated by the Ramsar Convention. The recommended universal principles are to be widely utilized across EAAFP to mainstream a gender-responsive approach for the wise use and sustainable management of wetlands:
First: Full and effective participation. Encouraging inclusive and active participation at all levels from capacity building to leadership roles will ensure women’s voices are not overlooked in the decision-making process and any stakeholder consultations.
Second: Gender analysis. A comprehensive sex-disaggregated data collection will help establish an inclusive and systematic gender-responsive framework; hence gender analysis needs to be conducted in providing an adequate and proper understanding of current gendered power imbalances.
Third: Raising awareness on gender equality in wetland management. Women’s pivotal role in wetland management needs to be recognized so their ideas, needs and concerns are well-acknowledged and implemented.
This material is a product of the assistants of the East Asia-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) Secretariat. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the representatives of the Partnership. The EAAFP Secretariat does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this work. This material should not be reproduced or distributed without the EAAFP Secretariat prior consent.
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Programme Assistant: Yoo Jung Kwon
Communication Assistant: Tino Maduku