Gender & Biocultural Diversity


Gender & Biocultural Diversity

Understanding the different roles that men and women play in the maintenance of cultural and biological diversity can strengthen livelihoods for the most vulnerable families, creating more resilient social and ecological systems..

What is it?

Gender roles and the power relations between them have a profound effect on the management of natural resources and, consequently, on the intergenerational transfer of biocultural diversity. Around the world, empowering women has been proven as an effective strategy for improving the lives of the most vulnerable men, women, and children. Looking at biocultural diversity through a gender lens, therefore, is critical for effective grantmaking.

Why is it important?

While women are responsible for the majority of the world’s agricultural production, they own less than 1% of the world’s land property. At the same time, changes in rural, agrarian communities are leading to the displacement of young men, leaving women, in some cases, in more dominant positions in rural society.

Through our experience of grassroots grantmaking, we have learned that while the women in our regions of focus often play less public roles than men, they often play an equal or greater role in passing along both cultural traditions and the genetic resources of indigenous crops, for example. It is important that these dynamics inform any intervention in these communities.

How is The Christensen Fund involved?

We approach all of our grantmaking with an informed sensitivity to gender issues, based on the specific needs and experiences of the men, women and children in our regions. This means understanding that the support of particular traditions, whether weaving, falconry, pottery, cuisine or herbalism, is bound up in changing gender roles.

In many cases, we support indigenous organizations that help young men find identity, cultural skills and purpose in life within changing societies, and in others, we identify and support effective, women-led local NGOs. As a foundation, we continually evaluate our programs to ensure that our grantmaking is made by and for both men and women.