Feature Story

New FOLUR gender working group takes shape

May 4, 2021

Ethiopian woman with large bundle of firewood strapped to her back
Photo: Natasha Elkington/CIFOR

Gender gaps at the nexus of food, land use, and restoration must be tackled to establish sustainable production landscapes, a core aim of the Global Environment Facility-supported Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration (FOLUR) impact program.

More than 25 participants from 15 countries, and 10 partner and collaborating organizations attended a recent webinar, the first in a series of FOLUR global practice knowledge and learning events for core partners to discuss strategies and plan upcoming activities. The event resulted in the creation of a technical gender working group.

“We cannot transform food systems and make natural resources management more sustainable without gender equality,” said Patricia Kristjanson, gender team leader at FOLUR, who led the webinar.

“The objectives of the new gender working group include knowledge-sharing and cross-fertilization across the country projects, capturing good gender practices and lessons learned, gathering evidence to inform more equitable, evidenced-based decision making in these countries, and influence global and regional level FOLUR partner exchanges,” she said.

FOLUR, which was launched last year, seeks to transform the global food system by promoting sustainable, integrated landscapes and efficient commodity value chains for beef, cocoa, coffee, maize, palm oil, rice, soy, and wheat.

The World Bank manages the program’s global platform, which supports the scaling up of sustainable landscapes through country projects. Its five main partners include the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Food and Land Use Coalition, International Finance Corporation, Good Growth Partnership, and Global Landscapes Forum.

In all FOLUR projects, which span 27 countries, both women and men make vital contributions to commodity value chains, agricultural landscapes, and forest sectors as farmers, workers, processors, and entrepreneurs. Yet, rural women are very often at a disadvantage, which means they are less empowered to shift toward more sustainable practices, Kristjanson said.

“They generally have less secure rights in terms of land and livestock ownership, and less access to seed, fertilizer, labor, and financing,” Kristjanson added. “Agricultural advisory services and technical trainings are largely inaccessible and rarely targeted to their needs.”

Webinar participants also discussed various steps they would take.

A stocktaking survey and analysis will reveal any gaps in gender knowledge and capacity of the new country project teams, synthesizing available gender resources across value chains and topics, mapping existing knowledge related to gender gaps and any frameworks created by companies and platforms to addressing them.

An assessment of existing training materials and activities will serve to facilitate the joint development of capacity strengthening approaches targeted to meet country project needs.

“It is exciting to see such a diverse and experienced group of people coming together from many organizations, all committed to gender equality aims. This is exactly what is needed now if we really want to see truly transformative change in food and land use systems,” Kristjanson said.