In our interventions CM includes a major role for the community, as well as for different social and less privileged groups, such as women. One of the project interventions has been the establishment of women groups in all communities and their increased participation in the decision-making for NRM. We also organized different activities to support women’s household income generation activities.
Gender and social analysis was a focus of our study in the project sites and in the communities. Several researchers were involved in this part of research, who had previous experience with this issue. Women's participation in natural resource management, use, decision-making and implementation levels have been taken into consideration only recently in Mongolia in connection with awareness that women's role in environment preservation action is being recognized and supported worldwide.
Stakeholders’ participation in planning process:
To provide with an opportunity to listen to and include all stakeholders’ voice:
- To support herders’ and communities initiatives;
- To regard the specifics of the ecosystem and natural resources;
- To facilitate understanding between the communities and herders, to facilitate their labor distribution;
- To improve the stakeholders’ effectiveness to co-management;
- Training and exchange of experiences
The research activities on gender analysis implemented by project researchers are:
Defining the Gender roles in NRM (2002); NRM Stakeholders’ opinions at micro, mezzo, and macro levels (2003) ;Women’s participation in NRM (2003); SAGA in NRM (2005); Gender roles in grassland management in Mongolia (2007); PM&E principles ( Since 2005 ); Investigation of women groups opinions using PM&E (2007-2009); and Using participatory and gender analysis in PNRM communities (since 2007)
“... Women have clear roles in natural resource management. By establishing the women group, women joined, and are sharing opinions, making joint decisions, and helping each other”. (Female, secretary of community)
Although both women and men play important, but different roles in the management of natural resources in Mongolia’s nomadic pastoralism, women's particular roles and participation in national resource use, decision-making and implementation have been undervalued. In many cases, in research and in policy-making, women's knowledge and abilities are “simply” forgotten or neglected.
Women's participation in NRM use, decision-making and implementation needs to be recognized more fully and their contributions valued. In many cases, women's knowledge and abilities are left out of NRM. Women may also need help and special attention in training activities and their decision-making roles will be supported in this work.
|Box 2. Women’s view on Co-management
To clarify women’s ideas about co-management we surveyed the opinions of the 461 women members from 220 herding families from 9 communities. According to this survey, women defined as important goals of co-management:
- To cooperate, to have common goals
- To plan their activities and to work according to certain goals
- Improving knowledge on NRM
- Sound use of pasture and other natural resources
- Improving herding management, improving productivity of animals
- Improving livelihoods and income of the households
- Learning laws and rules related to herders and pastures
- To support and increase women’s participation in co-management activities
Most of the women support CM activities and their aspirations were usually connected to improving their livelihoods and protection and restoration of pasture and other natural resources.
Women groups helped to organize the following activities among women: supporting women’s income generation activities (e.g., handicrafts, felt-making, vegetable growing), learning from each other (teaching their skills to other members of the community, learning from other communities, organizing various trainings for women on sustainable livelihood options and NRM), exchange of experiences between the communities and between study sites (community products exhibition, study tour visits to other sites; e.g., inter-site women groups’ meeting and stakeholders’ meeting about updating the CM agreements), and participatory monitoring and evaluation of the community CM efforts.
In a herder community women are active in the implementation of CM agreements, as they are creative in other income generation or in other activities.
As a consequence of the establishment of the “women groups” in our communities, women have more possibilities to co-operate, to learn from each other, to exchange experiences, and to share knowledge and information. The establishment of the women groups has also facilitated the provision of gender equity in NRM and has created an environment to support women’s participation in CM of NR. It also encourages women’s initiatives to protect natural resources according to traditionally inherited knowledge and customs. Now about 87% of community members think that women participated more actively in CM than men.
Box 3. Women’s ideas on revising and improving co-management agreements:
- Co-management activities among community and non-community herders should be organized and activated by the sum governor.
- The bag governor should meet the community people once every semester and deliver community people’s opinion to higher levels of government and also better link the local government policy.
- Marketing of community products should be organized jointly with the assistance of the community accountant, sum and bag governors.
- Community leaders should take care of the community poor members’ livelihoods and take measures to increase the community members’ livelihoods in relation with the sound use of the natural resources, their protection and restoration.
- Community members who excel in sustainable management practices should be awarded.
- To clarify the what measures should be taken in case of community member’s failing their responsibilities.
- Community members should co-operate, exchange experiences about NRM with each other, and participate actively in the community activities and training
Gender analysis contributes to highlight the human factor in natural resource management and to show that women’s perceptions and interests are not fully included in decision-making processes at herder, family and community levels. Customs, traditions and religion play an important role in this regard. In Mongolia, women assume many responsibilities for taking care of their families, tutoring the young, preparing food and manufacturing essential goods; hence, their roles and importance in promoting sustainable development for future generations are paramount. Building on these insights the project paid special attention to the question of how to include their perceptions (ideas, interests, and propositions) into more equitable CM agreements for grasslands and other natural resources.
CM agreements of pasture and natural resources are now being updated in the communities by including women’s ideas and perceptions that promote more gender equity. As women have defined their rights, roles and responsibilities in CM agreements, they started to become more actively and meaningfully involved in the community decision-making of NRM.
The most striking finding of the SAGA research to date is that stakeholders’ understanding of the importance of gender equity in natural resource (co)management has increased. At the same time, women’s limited opportunities to participate in NRM and the domination of men’s authority in decision-making in NRM have been acknowledged. The main direct result of this study so far has been the revision and updating of grasslands CM agreements between communities and local governors. These agreements now reflect community women’s ideas and perceptions.
This SAGA study was one of the first research and development activities in Mongolia regarding CBNRM, gender roles, and participation in NRM.
The result of this study shows that about 88-100% of the men and women answered that updated agreements are improved than its previous version. Women’s ability in PM&E has also improved as the result of the PM&E training provided by the project and women’s knowledge and abilities to gain/generate additional income generation have improved as the result of the training and experience sharing.
Table 1: Pasture shifting plan designed by the Arjargalant community's women group
|What to do?
||Who organises it?
|Shift summer pastures and move to the bank of the Tsagaansum River
||20 June - 20 August
||Community leaders, Women's group
|Some of the reserved summer pastures reserved for autumn
||20 August - 20 October
|Otor movement to lkhurr
||20 December - 20 February
||Community leaders and members
|Reseeding winter pasture, planting steppe wheat grass, and bromegrass
||Start from 1st May
||Women's group, community members
Quote: [...] Women in our community made a pasture-shifting plan. Women before never participated in pasture issues, but we saw that women’s pasture plan was very clever. (Male, 42, a community member).
Based on the SA/GA action research, women groups now have become initiators of CBNRM activities in the communities with the aim to increase women’s participation in the decision-making process including the CM agreements. Women’s involvement in the CM activities has clearly increased. They have become creative and have taken the initiative to develop new income generation and other activities in the pastoral households.
Efforts made to rectify gender imbalances in environmental issues lead sustainable socio-economic development. As women take more responsibilities in taking care of their families, manufacturing, serving and tutoring, their role and importance in promoting sustainable development for the future generation and the protecting the environment increases daily.
Women's low participation in both conservation, protection and restoration of natural resources and its management is a serious problem today. In the case of our study sites, there are different gender issues and circumstances depending on local culture, religion, and etc.
Introduction of gender equity in herders’ life becomes one important step. According to the project activities Women groups of the communities started multilateral activities like supporting women’s income generation activities on preparing additional fodder, processing agricultural products, improving marketing of the products, and establishing the women’s fund. As a result of these activities women’s participation in the community meetings and discussions increased and they learned to tell their ideas to others and at the community meetings.
Besides the work burden increase, the need to recover the absence of commodity and service previously provided by the state has emerged. Women have to produce clothes, boots, and ger cover felts for the family. This productive and unproductive labor significantly increased women’s workday hours. According to the survey results in Khotont, Deluin, and Lun study sites, more than 70% of the household work done by the women. As women in rural areas are isolated and left behind, they are more and more affected by the sources of gender inequity.
|Box.5: Researcher’s conclusion: In order to improve women’s participation in the decision-making process of NRM, first we need to improve their knowledge on NRM and co-management agreements and particularly improve self-esteem and skills to express themselves. In some places, women were not active in the decision-making due to their understanding that “it’s not women’s responsibility to make-decisions, women must follow men’s decisions”. It is required more time to change this attitude.
Participation of women in decision making on Co-Management of Natural Resources is essential. As they are active in CM processes more than 20 per cent of the community leaders of newly established in the Phase III communities are women. Women are getting majority’s votes and also selected as a member of the management team in most of the newly established Communities. It is lately observed that women have more dominant positions in the management team of Communities.
By initiation of the project the “Community fund” specialized for women’s group was created in 22 Communities, and they are very active for its sound management.Initiatives and participation of women in the activities related to pastureland and natural resources have improved, further, their opinions and comments are heard at community level.
Changes in the gender role and participation in NRM communities through the project research on SAGA are: Learned about gender roles, participation and needs in NRM and CM, and women’s participation in CM increased; Supported women groups based on their needs and interests; Organized activities to raise women’s voice, to strengthen their capacity (meetings, discussions, sharing experiences, increasing income, training, PM&E, women’s fund, and women’s leadership) and Revised CM contract based on women’s ideas and opinions; Many women are becoming leaders of communities, and members of CA; Women groups are using PM&E for planning, discussing and evaluating the community activities.
Examples are Khujiriin gol, Arjgargalant, Ikhbulag communities in Khotont, Tsagaan-Uul in Lun, Karatau, Mustau in Deluin, Bugat in Batsumber sums have female leaders and women’s participation significantly increased in these communities.
Women’s activities increased during the events, such as: Community days; Supporting income generation activities such as potato growing and making handicrafts using livestock raw product; Planting pasture fodder plants, fencing pasture, planting trees; Community meetings, Exchanging experiences between the communities. Herders and other stakeholders in NRM and CM understand about importance of women’s roles and needs and women’s position, voice, and participation in NRM increased.
Box. 6. Before CM. It is no secret that rural women are more economically dependent on the others than the urban women and they have limited rights and opportunity to possess fixed assets.Ts. Odgerel, B. Naranchimeg, project researchers