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Gender Issues and Participation Part of 2004 Report "Designing Social Capital Sensitive Participation Methodologies"

Participation is determined by rules, norms and perceptions, in addition to the endowments and attributes of potential participants. These factors can disadvantage women, both separately and interactively (Agarwal 2001)[1]. Buchy, Ross et al (2000)[2] identified that consideration of gender is necessary for two reasons: men and women have different perceptions, needs and opportunities to engage in the management of their own resources; and in most societies, there is no gender equity and the genders operate from an unequal power base especially in relation to access and control over natural resources. For example, in many societies women are the principal farmers; or marketers of the produce, so participation of this group may be vital (Buchy, Ross et al. 2000) page 20. Karl (1995:10) (cited in (Buchy, Ross et al. 2000) page 21) has identified a number of factors that influence women’s capacity to engage in public debate:

  • household status;
  • employment and remuneration;
  • work related rights (maternity leave, job security, provision of childcare);
  • double burden of work;
  • education and literacy;
  • health;
  • ability to control fertility;
  • access to financial resources;
  • legal rights;
  • traditions and cultural values;
  • socialization and self confidence;
  • violence against women; and
  • the mass media.

Management of local natural resources by village communities is widely accepted as an institutional imperative (Agarwal 2001) but ignoring a large part of the community could jeopardize the effectiveness of the process and more importantly, alienate and increase the burden of disadvantaged groups, particularly women and the poor (Buchy, Ross et al. 2000). Even seemingly participatory institutions can exclude significant sectors, such as women (Agarwal 2001). In the context of natural resource management, devolving greater power to village communities is now widely accepted as an institutional imperative by governments, international agencies, and NGOs (Agarwal 2001).

Citing this article

This report was prepared for Social Capital Research. You should reference this work as:

Claridge, T., 2004. Designing social capital sensitive participation methodologies. Report, Social Capital Research, Brisbane, Australia.

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  1. Agarwal B (2001) Participatory Exclusions, Community Forestry, and Gender: An Analysis for South Asia and a Conceptual Framework. World Development 29, 1623-1648. ^
  2. Buchy M, Ross H, Proctor W (2000) ‘Enhancing the information base on participatory approaches in Australian natural resource management: Commissioned research under the Land & Water Australia’s Social and Institutional Research Program.’ Land & Water Australia, Canberra. ^

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