Gender Relations and Biodiversity Management 

Iliana Monterroso, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)


Diana Lope-Alzina, Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands / Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research

The Socio-Economic Participation of Spouses in Family Farming
This qualitative study explores how spouses perceive their legal and operational participation in family farming. Based on guidelines developed through a literature analysis, narrative interviews were conducted with 12 participants (11 female, 1 male) in the Württemberg-region of Germany. The findings confirm research that spouses are often in a precarious position. The results show that the work taken on by spouses may coincide with their participation in decision-making on family farms, assumed liabilities, involvement in the legal structure, and with property relations. However, theses aspects do not have to match or may match only partially. Regardless of life stage and gender, most respondents are thus exposed to a high risk of poverty in the event of divorce. Talking about the consequences of death and divorce was deemed unpleasant by interviewees. Due to the legal situation in Germany, however, it is necessary for spouses marrying into family farms to negotiate this issue with their partner. Notions of time-enduring romantic love additionally hinder spouses in these negotiations, as does the internalized priority of the family farm above individual interests.


Rashida Chantima Ziblila, German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture, DITSL, Shea Network Ghana, University of Kassel, Germany

Rural women’s income diversification through underutilized species: Processing and marketing of the African locust bean in northern Ghana
Underutilized species are a way of increasing livelihood options and improving dietary micro content for more vulnerable social groups, particularly women. However, innovative processing, packaging, and marketing of these crops are needed to strengthen these value chains. In this research we analyze how gender shapes the options available for women to access, process and market an underutilized species, dawadawa, or African Locust Bean (Parkia biglobosa) in Ghana. Using a transdisciplinary research approach, researchers established a collaboration with three women’s groups in Northern Ghana. From 2018 to present qualitative data through participant observation, group activities (40+) and individual interviews (19) has been collected. The study found that in the Dagomba culture, the dawadawa is of particular importance for women and is linked to their gendered identity. It is also a source of folate during pregnancy and is appreciated as a cooking spice. Despite this importance, access to dawadawa is declining due to lack of propagation of new trees associated with agricultural mechanization, firewood collection and land ownership. Currently, most women must resort to buying the seeds for their individual processing at increased prices while facing greater challenges of supply for their dawadawa businesses. Although women hold knowledge for processing and are motivated to do it, they must overcome multiple barriers to achieve it. Considering how the loss of dawadawa trees disproportionately impacts women, more support is needed to conserve and replant the trees. Women also need more options for processing dawadawa in order to gain important supplementary income for their livelihoods.


Gisella S. Cruz-Garcia, Oxfam Novib

A gender lens to the role of local food plants as rural safety net during the food scarcity season in Africa, Asia and Latin America
For many rural people the availability of food is driven by seasonal cycles, and is least in the pre-harvest months. During food scarcity periods household food stocks from the last harvest begun to dwindle and the nutrition security of the family can be at stake. However, the wide diversity of local food plants can contribute to reducing and even ending food scarcity by adding diversity and nutritional value to the diet. Indigenous peoples and smallholder farmers hold most of the traditional knowledge associated with agrobiodiversity. The objective of this presentation is to compare women’s and men’s knowledge on local food plants using an intersectional approach, and to highlight their role during the food scarcity period, under different socio-economic and demographic conditions. Data was collected during a household survey conducted with 2,241 indigenous people and smallholder farmers in Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Laos, Peru and Guatemala. The survey was part of the baseline of the Local Food Plants for Nutrition work, Sowing Diversity = Harvesting Security program ( The presentation will reflect on how to build the diets of tomorrow using a gender approach to traditional knowledge as a starting point. The presentation will discuss the implications of the results for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), taking into account that food scarcity tends to be overlooked by policy makers. Finally, we will share a practical example that illustrates how development programs on nutrition and agrobiodiversity could be successfully built on the basis of gender equality.


Silvia Sarapura-Escobar, University of Guelph, Canada

Land use planning to Secure Food in the Andean Region of Peru, the case of Andean Women
The objective of this research study was to understand and analyze women’s representation in land use planning in Andean agri-food systems. Andean agriculture depends on land use planning. Women’s contribution to these systems and their upkeep of biodiversity while using land adequately are not well documented. Through the intersecting critical feminist perspective, two case studies were considered:

  1. women producers using new approaches to land management
  2. peasant women who traditionally maintain the land

A sequential explanatory design was used to obtain data iterated with participatory and discussion-based activities. Key findings demonstrated the influence of women’s worldviews on land use planning. According to women’s discourse, respect for the land and the concept that the land is part of a whole comprising universe was central to their actions. This is fundamental for the preservation of biodiversity, food security and resiliency.
Some of the practices carried out by women are:

  1. soil erosion control, rainwater storage and microclimates usage
  2. soil rotation
  3. tillage systems
  4. escalated planting seasons
  5. live fences and canals
  6. festive calendars for planning
  7. communal practices.

The study provides evidence on how land use planning is critical in Andean agriculture and the key role women play in these systems. It recognizes the importance of land use and genetic biodiversity on women’s lives and the influence Andean Cosmovision or indigenous worldviews holds on it. Policies, governments and institutions have considered the context as homogeneous without attending women’s knowledge, traditional land-use planning, and forms of community organizations.