Indigenous women propose inclusive system to conserve forests

Fill gaps

Work on gender gained momentum from 2016, when at the international level, clearer guidance was given on the subject, explains María Elena Herrera, technical professional at Fonafifo.

In 2014, at the climate summit held in Lima, Peru, countries approved the Lima Gender Work Program. This was a key issue in the design of the action plan for gender equality in Costa Rica.

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As a starting point, a gap analysis was carried out. “What did we see? Well, women are important conservation agents in this country: where there is a greater presence of women landowners at the cantonal level, there is more forest. The analysis also revealed to us that, in the buffer zones of protected wild areas, there is a strong presence of women ”, comments the manager.

Regarding indigenous women, she underlines: “Their productive areas generate a significant impact on reducing emissions. In these areas, the forest coexists with crops that guarantee food security for the family and offer them an option of economic income during the marketing of products. Medicinal plants are also found there and the water sources are protected.

Based on data from the Ecomercado I and II projects, executed by Fonafifo, a growing trend was also observed in terms of the number of PES contracts in favor of women. Over the period 2010-2019, 1,387 were counted. In other words, 14% of this total is in the hands of women. The other thing they noticed is that only 15% of registered land is owned by women. But, the reality is not so clear, warns Herrera.

“Sometimes we found that in order to gain more points in the evaluation matrix (a mechanism that we promoted as more women entered the program), the land was transferred, but when the money was arrived on the account. Well, the man was behind the woman to take the money from the ATM, ”he explains. “So, we realized that setting requirements, such as that the property be in the name of the woman, does not necessarily work because we do not guarantee that the money will reach her and that she can thus distribute the profits. with the family, ”she adds.

For indigenous women, the question of property is not a problem: the land — in the case of the Bribris and the Cabécares — belongs to them. “By intergenerational line, there is a safeguard and a guarantee that the woman will not be evicted from her property”, underlines Herrera. However, although they own the land, they live in the cantons (communes) where the poverty rates are the highest. And they don’t have access to credit or paid jobs.

“As Indigenous women, we don’t have access to loans or financial support to run a business. In the system, I do not appear to earn a salary and that already limits me. Even though I have a farm, because I have a right of possession as an indigenous woman, I do not have a deed, so I cannot give it as collateral when I respond for a loan, ”explains Villanueva.

Small communities coexist with the forests of Costa Rica. Photo: Giancarlo Pucci / UNDP Costa Rica

Follow a roadmap

Fonafifo’s work focused on drawing a roadmap with indigenous and peasant women. Workshops were held and the enthusiasm of the indigenous women was such that, according to Herrera, they agreed on a specific time to plan the climb to the hill in order to have a better cell phone signal and to be able to participate in the validations. . This roadmap resulted in the gender action plan, which cuts across the REDD + strategy.

REDD + is a mechanism negotiated since 2005 within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

So far, Fonafifo has launched 2 projects derived from this plan. One of them, launched in June 2020, is promoted by the Minae “+ Mujeres + Natura” program. This aims to strengthen women’s economic empowerment, close gender gaps while mitigating the economic impacts caused by the covid-19 pandemic, all within a sustainability approach.

This is how “Fonafifo by your side” emerged, which succeeded in placing 100,000 US $ in 2020. In its “Fonafifo by your side – PSA Woman” modality, 25 additional points are awarded in the evaluation matrix to opt for a PES contract – in the category of forest protection – to these operations in the hands of women.

The second modality, “Fonafifo a tu lado – Crédito Mujer”, is a line of credit of up to US $ 8,176 with fiduciary guarantee, with a payment term of 10 years and a fixed rate of 4% per year for productive development, capital for works, infrastructure, equipment and innovative projects linked to the forest.

“Despite the pandemic, in December 2020, we had placed 11 credits totaling US $ 86,675 in various activities such as ecotourism, agroforestry systems (combination of crops with trees), nurseries and an apiary of one hectare of teak. We are diversifying the options for women and this shows, once again, that women want to work. It’s about giving them options, ”says Herrera.

The other project, announced in October 2020, consists of an award for achievements in favor of gender equality made from production units that are part of PES programs. The participants carry out an analysis of the gaps and propose actions to fill them. Based on performance and results, they are awarded annually. Issues such as social security, participation of women in decision-making and others related to gender are taken into account in the agro-environmental approach.

The first prize is scheduled for 2021. Public recognition of these organizations and farms is also aimed at making consumers aware of the conditions underlying the product they are buying. Thus, according to Herrera, it is a question of creating virtuous chains; women can offer their products to nearby restaurants and hotels, while they can use the price as an incentive when marketing.

Sibu women

Although indigenous women benefit from general actions, they have proposed a pilot project to demonstrate that their ancestral farms can be a model that contributes to the reduction of GHG emissions.

The aim is to identify the environmental services that these productive spaces can offer, so that the information can be used to build a PES for women. To do this, the idea is to start by collecting scientific data on 50 farms: 25 managed by bribris and 25 by cabécares. In addition, the pilot will serve to identify other issues related to governance, legal and administrative issues.

“With them, there is no problem of owner of the land, but there is work to be done at the community level, because the land is in a single registered plane and it is the association that manages it”, Herrera said. And she adds that “there is internal work so that they can receive payment through the local indigenous government or see if there is a possibility that the Fonafifo will pay them directly under the protection of a permit. legal. These are things that must be analyzed ”.

Although the pilot project has already been designed and envisages that it is the women themselves who collect the data in order to empower them and strengthen their technical capacities, funding is still sought. Fonafifo’s intention is to train indigenous women in the use of GPS so that they are the ones who demarcate the area on their land that would be part of the pilot project.

Another objective of the action plan is to hire more indigenous women as custodians of resources. Herrera says: “They want to get involved because so far there have been more hires of men than women. In this way, they have the opportunity to have a job while being trained in the use of technology and knowledge for forest monitoring ”.

Costa Rica Resonance

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