TNRC Blog International Women's Day 2020

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Targeting Natural Resource Corruption

Harnessing knowledge, generating evidence, and supporting innovative policy and practice for more effective anti-corruption programming

International Women’s Day 2020:
Connecting gender empowerment, conservation
and anti-corruption

2020 is a pivotal year for people and the environment. The international community is taking stock of a quarter-century of advances in women’s rights since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action. The Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework will unveil a roadmap to stronger safeguards and a better framework for conserving and restoring biodiversity for people and the planet. The connections between gender and meeting our conservation, development and anti-corruption goals are becoming ever clearer. But despite progress, change is fragile and has been agonizingly slow.

The theme this International Women’s Day is I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights. Advancing gender equality, addressing corruption and assuring environmental justice are vital to safeguarding human rights. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 1 in 5 people experience sexual extortion (a form of corruption), or know someone who has. Evidence from Madagascar shows that women and men both experience land-related corruption, but women are disproportionately at risk of sexual extortion (“whereas men are asked to ‘leave something’, women are asked to ‘offer something’”).

Despite daunting challenges, in Latin America an overwhelming majority of people remain hopeful. 77% believe that ordinary citizens can make a difference in the fight against corruption. Participatory processes are key. For a start, women and other groups that face power inequities have an essential role to play in natural resource management and conservation. Experience in India and Nepal suggests that involving women can enlarge the pool of citizens committed to forest conservation, increase representation of landless community members in decision making, and may ultimately support better compliance with resource management rules.

"It’s vital to understand the complex power dynamics that influence women’s participation in decision-making."

Increasing women’s participation in institutions may improve governance and the sustainability of resources—but it’s not enough to just include women. It’s vital to understand the complex power dynamics that influence women’s participation in decision-making. When programs and reforms are developed to prevent and address the corruption behind negative environmental and social outcomes, using a gender lens can help.

Reducing corruption in natural resource sectors and assuring the human rights of all women and girls are closely connected to enhancing accountability, integrity and transparency. Equal treatment and non-discrimination are an essential part of good governance, and they also create conditions that can encourage greater accountability.

The year 2020 is a critical opportunity to mobilize global action. How can your work help to move us forward?


© James Morgan / WWF-US

Image attribution: © naturepl.com / Jen Guyton / WWF; © Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF; © Georgina Goodwin / Shoot The Earth / WWF-UK; © Hkun Lat / WWF-Aus