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In December 2016, GVTC staff conducted needs assessment in natural resources management of her partner institutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda & Uganda. This was to assess their (i) awareness about gender issues; (ii)their policy on gender in natural resource management; (iii) possible gender component of projects being implemented; (iv)possible best practices in gender; (v) gender training needs, etc.

The partner institutions involved in this assessment were namely, Rwanda Development Boad(RDB)-Volcanoes National Park, Institut d’Enseignement Supérieur (INES) on Rwanda side; Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), Observatoire Vulcanologique de Goma (OVG), Fauna & Flora International in partnership with International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) in Goma/DRC, and Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Trust( BMCT), Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation ( ITFC) in Uganda.

Through discussions with small group meetings and individual interviews, some specific gender issues were addressed and much information was collected from staff members of those institutions.
This assessment aimed at engaging partners and stakeholders in the Greater Virunga Landscape (GVL) to mainstream gender in natural resource management so that men and women are equally considered in conservation and community development.

The critical issues addressed include the low level of women’s involvement in conservation, the challenging nature of conservation work for women in relation to their male counterparts, the women’s participation into field research exact sciences, customary and traditional practices that are still infantilizing women and do not lift them up to promote themselves in given regions.

According to the informants, collaboration between men and women is effective and is still producing results. Positions of responsibility are even headed by women without any discrimination. Women and men are recruited equitably, while the criterion of excellence and competence is prevailed. And in the recruitment process, in case of equal competence between men and women, priority is given to the latter.
In terms of project management, experience shows that women are excellent and competent managers, compared to their male colleagues. Although there are also women who could be accused of fraud and embezzlement, it has been noticed that projects run by women leaders appear to be more promising and delivering satisfactory results for both the community and the donors.
As far as the conservation of natural resource management is concerned, it was noticed that there are female commanders in ranger groups who lead their patrol troops in a surprisingly competent manner. Some of these women are even excellent shooters who rarely miss their target and poachers who have already crossed them on their way have probably have kept a bad souvenir.
Within scientific research institutions like OVG, there is a very low rate of women and girls, given the gruelling nature of the realities on the ground. Similarly, for INES-Ruhengeri, women are poorly represented in the field of scientific research within the exact applied sciences. However, gender policies are integrated both in administration of those institutions.
Within several regions, wwomen and children are the most affected by water scarcity because they are almost the ones who have to go fetch water, and to do so, they walk long distances away their homes. Because of the heavy housework on their shoulders, children, mostly girls, drop out of school or hang up to help their mothers in rural and household work. Women and girls are thus exposed to the risk of rape and violence by armed groups and other bandits. In some countries and in some families, girls and boys are raised discriminately. Girls are not allowed to attend school, they have to help their mothers for domestic work while boys are allowed and even encouraged to attend school. So, males and females should be considered equally, having access to the same opportunities in terms of education, employment, So, males and females should be considered equally, having access to the same opportunities in terms of education, employment so that both men and women may be able to contribute efficiently to a sustainable natural resources management in the GVL.
Other success stories about gender mainstreaming in conservation activities will be further published on GVTC website www.greatervirunga.org
GVTC Communication Service