Women and Natural Resources: Unlocking the Peacebuilding Potential

04 Mar 2014
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Summary

A lack of access to natural resources, including minerals, water and land, is often the underlying cause of many conflicts around the world. When managed properly however, as part of a peacebuilding strategy, these same resources can also be utilized, and their benefits shared to generate sustainable livelihoods that help guarantee peace and achieve sustainable human development.

 

Women have the potential to play a critical role in this process, as they use and manage land and other natural resources, while meeting water, food and energy needs in households and communities.

 

However, this use rarely translates into women being allowed to influence the distribution of natural resources or being given a decision making role when the management of resources is discussed and peace is negotiated.

 

This report analyzes the reasons behind this discrepancy, its implications for long-term peace and development and suggests some solutions.

 

Part one of the report examines the relationship between women and natural resources in peacebuilding contexts, reviewing key issues across three main categories of resources, including land, renewable and extractive resources.

 

Part two of the report discusses entry points for peacebuilding practitioners to address risks and opportunities related to women and natural resource management, focusing on political participation, protection and economic empowerment.

 

The report was published jointly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)[DK1] , the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equity and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), and the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO). It is the product of a two-year collaboration among the four partners.

 

Key findings

  • Women’s role as managers, users and beneficiaries of natural resources is an often unexplored opportunity for increasing their contribution to peacebuilding
  • Shifting gender norms in conflict-affected settings can be utilized to increase women’s participation in decision-making, and to enable them to engage in economic recovery more productively
  • Ignoring the role of women in resource management can perpetuate inequalities and grievances linked to natural resource rights, access and control, which have proven to be powerful catalysts for violence
  • Addressing issues of inequality related to resource access and ownership, participation in decision-making and benefit-sharing early on in the peacebuilding process is therefore a critical condition for lasting peace and development