Woman in Niger_Andrea Borgarello


PROGREEN’s Gender and Vulnerability Program (G&V Program) is aligned with the World Bank’s Gender Equality strategy and recognizes that efforts toward achieving gender equality are critical if we are to transform and make more sustainable global food and land use systems. In PROGREEN’s priority countries and regions, both women and men make crucial contributions in forest landscapes as farmers, workers, processors and entrepreneurs, and yet women are seldom recognized for doing so, much less empowered to shift toward more environmentally sustainable practices. They generally possess fewer assets (land, livestock, and human capital), have less access to productive inputs (seed, fertilizer, labor, and finance), and have less access to rural advisory services (extension, technical trainings) than men. Forests and agroforestry are important for supporting food security and ‘safety nets’ in times of hardship, and there are major differences in how, why, and where men and women access, use, manage and benefit from productive and forested landscapes.

Women represent a potentially large share of the beneficiaries of PROGREEN interventions, directly or indirectly benefitting from actions aimed at improved natural resources management. They also are major actors in the restoration work on common lands, but too often their roles in restoring and creating added value are not acknowledged formally to enable equitable access rights and benefits from the restored resources. Youth, indigenous people, and some ethnic groups also often face multiple gender gaps and capacity constraints limiting more equitable benefit-sharing. In particular, there are three critical gender gaps of relevance to achieving PROGREEN’s desired outcomes that can also be considered key gender results areas supported by the Global Environmental Fund (GEF):

  • Unequal access to and control over natural resources
  • Unbalanced participation and decision-making in environmental planning and governance at all levels
  • Uneven access to socio-economic benefits and services


How will the G&V Program address these challenges?

PROGREEN’s G&V Program aims to help project teams and partners address these gender gaps. It identifies potential gender-responsive, cross-cutting activities for PROGREEN initiatives, as well as potential project/country-specific activities. These approaches target the key ‘change mechanisms’ (policies, investment, capacity/training, and knowledge) highlighted in PROGREEN’s Theory of Change. In addition, this strategy identifies potential global gender partners that can be engaged through support to a gender-responsive PROGREEN Community of Practice. A narrative of PROGREEN G&V’s Theory of Change is found in Box 1.

PROGREEN’s gender efforts will focus on initiatives that will assist the Program’s target countries and priority projects/investments in understanding and achieving gender objectives, primarily through trainings, technical assistance, knowledge products, and communication efforts. These kinds of interventions can assist in increasing the number of commitments and initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality linked to particular projects and investments. PROGREEN’s Gender and Vulnerability program-sponsored knowledge products and trainings will also help to address knowledge gaps related to gender-related challenges and opportunities facing smallholders and value chain actors at regional and global levels.  For example, facilitating knowledge and training events focused on gender awareness and actions with strategic Private Sector actors and coalitions will be supported. The Program will also identify key common gender indicators and will work with PROGREEN project teams to ensure that they report on these key gender indicators regularly, and that they are aggregated and reported, helping to make PROGREEN’s gender actions and outcomes highly visible in key regional and global events and via innovative communication efforts.

PROGREEN’s G&V program will also assist project teams in gender and social inclusion-related efforts that enhance the participation of those less empowered historically, particularly in terms of outreach and representation at regional and global events. To help PROGREEN project teams succeed in achieving more inclusive engagement at country level, the G&V program will provide resources such as guidance notes, trainings, facilitation, pilot tests or seed money for extra assessments or applications (e.g. a tenure / governance assessment, gender impact assessment, design of/trainings in women’s empowerment certification approach, etc.) The G&V Program’s aim will be to facilitate and incentivize inclusive engagement approaches by and through PROGREEN initiatives. At the global level, it will support equal representation at international events, and catalyze joint studies, with PROGREEN’s strategic gender partners, of cross-cutting key gender issues and how they are manifested in landscape investment projects (e.g., role of smallholders, role of women, potential impacts of projects on key groups, success stories of the benefits of greater inclusion in design/implementation).


Box 1: A short narrative of PROGREEN’s Gender Theory of Change

Women, youths, Indigenous Peoples, older people and some ethnic groups are particularly vulnerable in rural areas with high deforestation and land degradation rates. Climate change and the speed and breadth of other socio-economic and cultural changes present huge challenges to their livelihoods. Yet they can also be powerful agents of change, and often have unrealized solutions for shifting to more sustainable practices. Gender norms change and can do so quickly. This is a key part of the ‘transformative change’ PROGREEN supports. Targeting women and other vulnerable groups with PROGREEN solutions will increase the likelihood of achieving not just gender-specific outcomes, but all of the outcomes PROGREEN seeks. In order to achieve the greatest overall Program impact, we need to take what we’ve learned from sex-disaggregated documentation and diagnostic research, and use it to inform and develop actions aimed at catalysing and targeting PROGREEN solutions to women and other vulnerable groups. Gender norms must be addressed in order to achieve a healthy, food- and nutrition-secure world free of poverty and hunger, with sustained and regenerating natural resources.

Gender and Vulnerability Program