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In gender issues, we need to walk the talk, say leaders and researchers in Rio+20

Leading experts expressed their frustration in Rio de Janeiro.

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (21 June 2012)_Enough talk about the rights women have to forest resources and a need for greater participation in decision-making, leaders and researchers at a U.N. conference on sustainable development say. It’s time, now, for action.

“I’m frankly losing my patience,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “We have perfected the literature. We have perfected the speeches. We have perfected the speaking points. That is not what it is about anymore.

“Unless we actually are having an effect on the ground, we are not doing anything.”

Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), agreed saying its crucial to “walk the talk.”

Pointing to examples from Africa to Asia, she and others said women continue to be shut out of forestry decision-making at local, regional and national levels.

In Nicaragua, policies dealing with management of dwindling natural resources made no mention of the particular needs of women in the text, important because this is where national planning starts, said Anne Larson, a senior associate at CIFOR, citing her own preliminary research.

The problems are quite different in Uganda. There, the need for participation of women is mentioned directly in laws and other documents pertaining to forests. Even so, women continue to be excluded.

“Gender is a complicated issue,” said Larson, adding that it’s vital researchers and stakeholders coordinate more closely to get it right.

Sometimes that may require a better understanding about the traditional balances of power between sexes in a society. Teams also need to look more closely at local problem-solving techniques and encourage debate about the importance of the role of women.

Though there is still a long way to go, there have been some successes on how research, policy and action can be better integrated, researchers and experts said.

On the Indonesian island of Flores, for instance, a woman receives a piece of land, often from her father before she gets married. By the time she weds, the brothers have usually taken over her right to the inherited property, said Moira Moeliono, another CIFOR Senior Associate.

However, since a national law was introduced prompting certification, those who inherit land are starting to get necessary documents in place before it can be seized.

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Topic(s) :   Climate talks Gender