At Bioversity International, we focus on sustainably managing and conserving the rich agricultural and forest biodiversity—species, varieties, and their products —that result from the long process of trial and selection by culturally diverse farmer and forest communities across the world. These women and men hold a vast and gender-specific knowledge adapted to the diverse physical environments in which they live.
Women’s and men’s differentiated priorities, access to, and benefits from agricultural and forest biodiversity affect their resource management strategies. Engaging with the diversity of people who have shaped this biodiversity and the multiple ways they manage and use it is essential for understanding and conserving that diversity effectively, and for promoting equitable benefits from its use.
Innovations in agriculture and natural resource management can change the balance of power in gender relations within households and across entire communities towards more equality. Yet, there is also a risk that these changes will accentuate current patterns of gender inequality if not carried out in ways that consider both women’s and men’s interests and the constraints and opportunities they face in achieving those.
Bioversity International’s research for development seeks solutions that enhance mutual benefits for women and men, increasing their assets and ability to make important life decisions through biodiversity-based innovations so that they have more options to cope with change. We refer to this as ‘empowerment’.