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Gender-inclusive facilitation for community-based marine resource management

by Danika Kleiber; Helen Teioli; Philippa Cohen

Aug 1, 2019

People who rely on a natural resource should be central to decisions about how that resource is used and managed. This principle is at the core of community-based resource management (CBRM) and other forms of collaborative management or co-management. CBRM aims for high levels of resource-user participation in decision-making and in managing resources. In practice, however, different social groups experience collaborative management approaches differently (Evans et al. 2011). The processes and outcomes of collaborative management can preferentially benefit (Cinner et al. 2012) or disadvantage (Béné et al. 2009) certain sectors of society and can also exacerbate existing power imbalances and lead to elite capture (Béné et al. 2009; Cinner et al. 2012) in which public resources are managed in a way that benefit a few individuals of superior social status to the detriment of the larger population. They may also inadvertently exclude or marginalize women (or other groups) from decision-making processes and from the resources they rely upon (Kleiber et al. 2015; Vunisea 2008). When management partners or facilitators engage communities, they must use deliberate, thoughtful and reflexive strategies to reduce the risk of exacerbating existing power imbalances (Schwarz et al. 2014). This brief draws upon lessons and experience from across the Pacific region, where there is a long history of community-based approaches to address fisheries and marine resource management (e.g. Johannes 1982). The region also has decades of national programming (e.g. King and Faasili 1998; Raubani et al. 2017), relatively recent high level recognition (Secretariat of the Pacific Community 2015) and widespread interest in spreading and improving these approaches (Govan et al. 2009). This brief helps facilitators use, reflect on, and adapt gender-inclusive strategies in their work with communities. It aims to increase the frequency and quality of strategies used to reach women, men, youths and other social groups in the preparation, design, implementation and adaptation stages of CBRM. While the advice here is prepared with the Pacific island countries and community-based fisheries and marine resource management specifically in mind, some elements are more broadly applicable and also reflected in extensive experiences and feminist research from other agricultural and development sectors. We focus on gender-inclusive strategies facilitators can use when working with communities. When used thoughtfully as part of a larger cycle of gender-aware reflection on the equity of the process, the strategies are meant to enable gender-equitable participation in CBRM discussions, negotiation, planning and decision-making processes. This is not a step-by-step manual on "how to do gender" or a recipe that will guarantee equitable processes or outcomes. While gender-inclusive facilitation or practice has multiple dimensions, in this brief we refer to this in shorthand as "reaching" women and men (See 'Reach' Figure 2). We begin by highlighting what it means to "equitably reach" women and men—or, in other words, being gender-inclusive in facilitation and who is responsible for doing this