Social-ecological relations and gender equality

Female shepherd in Spanish Pyrenees. Photo: D. Tarrasón

Social-ecological relations and gender equality: Dynamics and processes for transformational change across scales (SEQUAL)

SEQUAL is a multi-country collaborative project of research organizations in Norway, Spain and Sweden, funded through the EU GENDER-NET Plus ERA-NET Cofund.

GENDER-NET Plus is a consortium of 16 organizations from 13 EU countries, which aims at strengthening transnational collaborations and supporting gender equality through institutional change. The funding programme supports research that integrates a gender dimension to addressing urgent societal challenges, particularly in interactions and interdependencies between Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on Gender Equality (SDG 5) and one or more of the following SDGs: SDG 3 Good health and well-being, SDG 9 Infrastructure, Industrialization and Innovation, and SDG 13 Climate Action.

Addressing SDG 5 and SDG 13, the SEQUAL project investigates gender differences in participation and leadership in natural resource management and climate related processes – the discourses and proposed actions in policies, everyday practices and adaptation strategies.

Walking in the footsteps of previous research, the project will carry out in-depth examination of the intersections and interdependencies between climate change and gender, based on three case studies in Norway, Spain and Burkina Faso.

The project will focus in particular on the differentiated gendered roles in management of - and possible contestation over -natural resources, both in climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.

SEQUAL website

Case studies

Case study 1: Pastoralism in a mountainous coastal region in northern Norway

This case transcends national borders as Sapmi, the Sami nation, stretches across four countries, including the northern parts of Sweden and Norway. The Norwegian-Swedish border region share ecosystems and species, and Sami reindeer herders move their herds across the border. Climate change in the Arctic occurs at a faster rate than in any other region in the world and reindeer husbandry in sub-Arctic regions is highly affected.

While the adaptive capacity of local farming and Sami reindeer herding communities and gender relations in these communities have been subject to some scholarly attention, only a few existing studies have examined the gendered dimensions of the adaptive capacity of pastoralists communities in the face of ongoing environmental and societal change.

Case study 2: Women shepherds, Pyrenees Mountains, Spain

This case study is located in the Pyrenees mountains, in the cross-border region between Spain and France. This region provides a case for examining the social-ecological system of communal management of land pastures and forests focused on the particular role of women shepherds, artisans of cheese and wool, within the system. This mountain region is a remote and marginalized environment, disproportionately vulnerable to climate change. Land tenure regimes are complex and communal land has different types of governance regimes in different counties of the Pyrenees.

Traditional and novel institutional arrangements, such as communal land access and use, innovative multiple scale networks and cooperative systems influence changes in power, gendered management of environment and decision spaces. Yet, the role of women in decision-making processes in the management of communal land has not yet been investigated.

Case study 3: Gender equality? Forest conservation communities, dry forests, Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, a land-locked country in West Africa, global story lines and narratives of gender, sustainability and development meet local realities - and existing national norms - and the different understandings and expectations of gender equality do not always match. The arena of forests and trees in Burkina showcases where ideas for gender inclusive climate change mitigation and adaptation from the global north and national policy levels get re-translated at local levels, to fit local expectations or to respond to global demands.

But what gets translated, what is rejected, by whom? And who are those promoting their ideas in this space where gender equality meets social, economic and environmental interests? Who stumbles over expectations, own behaviour, and limitations to larger processes of change?

Project research objectives

1. Contribute to better understanding of how gender is framed and addressed within climate change and natural resource policies at different policy levels, and identify potential factors that can promote or hinder transformational change

2. Further our understanding of gender power relations under changing environmental conditions within case studies of natural resource management at the local level

3. Provide critical analyses of the gaps and linkages between international and national gender and climate policies on the one hand, and local everyday gendered practices on the other hand

Research design

The research is designed as an integrative analysis across multiple levels:

1. Conduct discourse analyses of gender in climate change and natural resource policies in Norway, Spain and Sweden using the Bacchi's approach What is the problem represented to be?

2. Carry out qualitative, empirical and contextual research on:
a. gendered relations in everyday practices of resource management in localized case studies under changing environmental conditions: reindeer husbandry in a Nordic region (Norway) and women shepherds in communal pastures and forests in the Pyrenees mountains (Spain)
b. how global discourses on gender are being transferred and (re)translated within globally-financed climate change mitigation/adaptation and governance projects of local community forests in Burkina Faso (with a focus on Swedish feminist foreign policy)

3. Examine the interactions between local and policy levels, and the similarities and differences across case studies and countries.

SEQUAL website

Related info

SEQUAL website

Funding details

Project timeframe: 2019-2022

Project members:

Grace Wong (Stockholm Resilience Centre)

Andrea Downing (Stockholm Resilience Centre)

Amanda Jimenez-Aceituno (Stockholm Resilience Centre)

Alizee Ville (Stockholm Resilience Centre)

Aase Kristine Lundberg (Nordland Research Institute)

Camilla Risvoll (Nordland Research Institute)

Helga Eggebø (Nordland Research Institute)

Marta Guadalupe Rivera Ferre, (University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia)

Federica Ravera University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia

Maria Borras (University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia)

Maria Brockhaus (University of Helsinki)

Mawa Karambiri (University of Helsinki)

For more information about the project, please contact Grace Wong:

Grace Wong is a natural resource economist working on ecosystem services, poverty and equity within complex social-ecological systems.


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