International Mountain Day
FAO promotes the goal of reducing poverty and food insecurity through the promotion of social equity and gender equality. The different rights, resources and responsibilities of different household members must be understood and addressed in efforts towards sustainable development and food security for all. Women and men of different age groups play important and often complementary roles in agricultural production, resource management and sustaining the livelihoods of their families - in urban, rural and mountain areas alike.
Some of the gender-based constraints and opportunities faced by women and men in mountain regions are similar to those encountered by people elsewhere, but many challenges are also particular to mountain communities. High altitudes, poorly developed infrastructures, outmigration and relative isolation have profound impacts on the livelihoods of many people living in mountain areas. Access to energy resources, transport, communication and education services may therefore take on a different dimension and be of particular importance to women and men in mountain communities.
Much of FAO's ongoing work to promote social equity and gender equality has a direct relevance to mountain communities, for example:
FAO has undertaken numerous studies to document the gender-related impacts of issues as diverse as land and property rights, trade, HIV/AIDS, and the availability of gender responsive technologies - on poverty alleviation and food security. Most conclude that access to resources and services are of paramount importance to provide women and men with increased opportunities to improve their livelihoods.
FAO's Socio-Economic and Gender Analysis (SEAGA) programme provides training services on the concepts, methods and tools for conducting socio-economic and gender analysis, and adapts training material to the specific context and user needs. SEAGA helps to strengthen gender mainstreaming and socio-economic analysis capacities at regional, national and local levels, and has organised SEAGA workshops in 73 countries, many of which have been held in mountain regions.
FAO encourages countries to collect and use sex-disaggregated data and statistics to highlight the realities of women and men's lives and to fill the need for accurate information and identified gender data gaps. Training materials developed by FAO's gender-disaggregated data (GDD) programme have been translated into Russian for use in Caucasus and Central Asia, and adapted for use in Andean countries. GDD workshops have included participation from many countries with vast mountain areas and populations, such as Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Albania, Armenia, Romenia, Georgia,Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
FAO has also undertaken considerable work to document and to promote a greater understanding of gender issues in natural resource management, e.g. through case studies such as Bolivian women's traditional knowledge in livestock production (FAO, unpublished, 1995). Linkages between local knowledge systems, gender roles and the conservation and management of agrobiodiversity have been explored in many contexts, for example in Tanzania, Mozambique and Swaziland (FAO, 2005), India (2002) and in the Andes (FAO, 1998). The latter study documents the contribution of Andean women in seed management and conservation of genetic resources.
FAO is also promoting gender equality and shared knowledge through information and communication tools that can diminish the feeling of isolation among mountain people, women in particular. Socio-economic and gender analysis information is essential to inform and guide policies, programmes and projects that can provide responses to the livelihood challenges faced by mountain communities and women and men in mountain regions.
Mountain Partnership Gender Initiative
Launched at the World Summit for Sustainable Development during the International Year of Mountains in 2002, the Mountain Partnership is a voluntary alliance of countries, IGOs, NGOs and the private sector dedicated to improving the lives of mountain people and protecting mountain environments around the world. The Mountain Partnership is supported by a Secretariat, hosted at FAO. Members of the Mountain Partnership have identified specific areas of thematic and regional focus for their collaborative work, known as 'Initiatives'. The Mountain Partnership 'Gender Initiative' , for example, seeks to increase the understanding of gender issues in mountain environments and to develop ideas, build local capacities and create stronger links between Mountain Partnership members, policymakers and mountain women. As part of its workplan, the Gender Initiative is producing a leaflet on gender in mountains and is supporting one of its members, WOCAN, which is compiling a database of gender-mainstreaming experts in mountain regions around the world, in efforts to identify skills, knowledge and gaps in expertise.
Download a copy of the Mountain Partnership's newsletter, "Peak to Peak".