Gender and community-oriented wildlife conservation: views from project supervisors in India
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Gender and community-oriented wildlife conservation:views from project supervisors in IndiaMonica V. OgraReceived: 3 October 2011 / Accepted: 18 November 2011 / Published online: 9 December 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011Abstract Many international agreements, such as the 1992 UN Convention on BiologicalDiversity, posit that successful community-oriented (community-based) wildlife conser-vation depends on partnerships with stakeholders of different class, ethnicity, and gender.Gender is of particular interest because it often relates to environmental use, attitudes, andknowledge and operates across other key categories. This study uses fieldwork, interviews,and a survey of 52 project heads in India to address two research questions: (1) How aregender issues viewed by supervisors of community-based wildlife conservation projects, inrelation to their work? (2) What types of resources would be most useful to project headsseeking to promote gender equity through their conservation work? The results suggest thatwhile there is widespread support for integrating gender equity issues into community-oriented wildlife conservation, many believe that gender may be a potentially distractingand secondary issue. Several reasons for the variation in views were identified includingthe following: the dearth of relevant empirical research about gender issues in wildlifeconservation; ambiguities about the concept of gender itself; and a lack of opportunities tocritically discuss the role of gender equity issues for conservation. These factors maycontribute to a disconnection between international rhetoric and on-the-ground practice asit relates to gender and community-oriented wildlife conservation. Increased opportunitiesfor professional capacity building among project supervisors and staff members, coupledwith increased collaboration between social and natural scientists, will be important forstrengthening the links between international conservation policy and on-the-groundpractice.Readers should send their comments on this paper to BhaskarNath@aol.com within 3 months of publicationof this issue.M. V. OgraDepartment of Environmental Studies and Program in Globalization Studies, Gettysburg College,Gettysburg, PA, USAM. V. Ogra (&)Box 2455, 300 N. Washington Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325, USAe-mail: email@example.comEnviron Dev Sustain (2012) 14:407424DOI 10.1007/s10668-011-9332-6Keywords Community-based conservation (CBC) UN Convention on BiologicalDiversity (CBD) Wildlife conservation Participation Women India1 IntroductionIn developing countries, wildlife conservation projects focused on large, charismatic ter-restrial species (e.g., large cats, bears, and elephants) have traditionally excluded localresidents. In response, residents have often resisted conservation efforts, particularly whenthey are prevented from using local natural resources or are left out of the conservationplanning process (Ghimire and Pimbert 1997; Berkes 2004; Agrawal and Redford 2009). Inan effort to gain local support and promote a more democratic approach to conservation,many organizations have adopted community-oriented1 conservation paradigms thatemphasize partnerships and collaborations with local communities (Western and Wright1994; Brechin et al. 2003; West et al. 2006).In principle, community-oriented conservation projects should reach out to all membersof a community, including those of different socioeconomic groups and gender (Agrawaland Gibson 2001; Kaimowitz and Shiel 2007; Vencatesan 2008; Torri 2010). This conceptis echoed by a wide range of international policy statements that cite important linksbetween gender equity issues, environmental conservation, and sustainable development.For example, Principle 20 of the 1992 Rio Declaration describes womens role in envi-ronmental management as vital and claims that their full participation is thereforeessential to achieve sustainable development (UN 1992a). The 1992 United NationsConvention on Biological Diversity (CBD) also references womens historical exclusionfrom participation in decision making in many arenas including the environment (see alsoAgenda 21 (UN 1992b), chapters 13 and 24). Similarly, both the United Nations Mil-lennium Development Goals (UN 2000) and the Plan of Implementation created at theWorld Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD 2002) describe links between sus-tainable approaches to environmental management, gender equality, and womensempowerment. Inherent to these documents is the idea that participation of both womenand men is critical to ensuring the long-term viability and effectiveness of sustainable andequitable conservation and development practices.The peer-reviewed literature also points to important links between gender and conser-vation. Numerous studies have found that gender and other social factors (such as class, caste,race, and ethnicity) influence the use of environmental resources, and thus are important toconsider in community-oriented conservation projects (Agarwal 1992; Leach 1992; Greenet al. 1998; Rocheleau et al. 1996; Resurreccion and Elmhirst 2008). Women and men oftendiffer in terms of access, use, and knowledge of specific resources such as forests, fisheries,grasslands, water sources, and agroecosystems (e.g., Abramovitz 1994; Thomas-Slayter andRocheleau 1995; Fortmann 1996; Carney 1996; Schroeder 1999; Bennett 2005; Fochingong2006; Momsen 2007; Hawkins and Seager 2010; Nuijten 2010). Including both women andmen in conservation projects has been shown to improve conservation outcomes: Agarwals(2009) study of gender composition in membership of 135 community-based forest man-agement groups in India and Nepal found that improvements in forest condition, forest1 Myriad variations of this term exist in the literature, including participatory conservation, community-based conservation (CBC), integrated conservation and development projects (ICAD or ICDP), andcommunity-based natural resource management (CBNRM). This paper employs the term community-oriented to include all such approaches.408 M. V. Ogra123regeneration, and canopy growth were significantly related to a higher proportion of womenin the decision-making bodies. However, more typically, men participate in and benefit fromconservation projects more than women (e.g., Guijt and Shah 1998; Agarwal 2001 and 2009;Nightingale 2002; Flintan 2003; Vernooy 2007; see also Svarstad et al. 2006).Gender issues are also important to wildlife conservation projects, in particular. Forexample, Hunter et al. (1990) showed that conservation projects in southern Africa typi-cally overlooked womens key roles as both users and managers of wildlife. Studies inAfrica have shown that wildlife conservation projects, including the model CAMPFIREprogram, have had unequal benefits that favor men (Nabane and Matzke 1997) or imposeadditional costs on women (Songorwa 1999). One study in India found gender-basedinequities in terms of differentiated vulnerability to attack by wild animals includingelephants and leopards, leading women to sustain disproportionate rates of deaths orinjuries as compared to men (Ogra 2008). Many studies have found that women and menoften hold significantly different views about the importance of wildlife or how conser-vation should be undertaken at the local level (Kellert and Berry 1987; Hill 1998; Kuriyan2002; Bauer 2003; Martino 2008; Campbell 2009; Yang et al. 2010).Collectively, these studies suggest that an understanding of gender is critical to makingconservation projects more effective, equitable, and sustainable. But is this view shared byconservation professionals on-the-ground? Several studies have evaluated the percep-tions of gender held by conservation professionals working in large development institu-tions such as the World Bank (Kurian 2000; see also Goetze 1997; Crewe and Harrison1998). Other studies have contrasted the attitudes held about wildlife between wildlifeagency managers and members of the public (Peyton and Langenau 1985; Kennedy 1985;Carr and Tate 1991; Bjerke et al. 1998; Kaltenborn et al. 1999; Koval and Mertig 2004). Atleast one study assesses conservation professionals attitudes about the use of participatoryapproaches to wildlife conservation in India (Karanth et al. 2008). However, few if anystudies have examined the views of wildlife conservation professionals about the role ofgender in community-oriented conservation.To help address this gap, this study takes a case study approach in India to examine viewsof project supervisors about the importance of gender issues in community-oriented wildlifeconservation projects. Two research questions were posed: (1) How are gender issuesviewed by wildlife conservation project supervisors? and (2) What types of resources wouldbe most useful to project supervisors seeking to more fully address gender-related aspects oftheir conservation work? To examine these questions, a case study of the Indian wildlifeNGO sector was conducted. India is an ideal study area for several reasons. First, as one of17 megadiverse countries, it plays a key role in addressing the global conservation crisis(UNDP 2011; Karanth and DeFries 2010). Secondly, expanding human settlements andconflicts over control of environmental resources impose formidable challenges to themaintenance of species viability. For example, at least 65% of Indias protected areascontain human habitations or are located adjacent to rural villages, which are often char-acterized by high levels of dependence on natural resources (Kothari et al. 1989). Moreover,rural Indian villages are typically characterized by clearly defined gender roles, which inconjunction with class/caste help shape individuals interactions with the environment(Agarwal 1992; Mehta 1996; Badola and Hussain 2003; see also Agrawal and Gibson2001). Third, India has an established and vibrant conservation NGO sector comprisingmembers who are broadly supportive of participatory approaches to conservation (Karanthet al. 2008). Indian conservation NGOs are largely self-governing and are strategicallypositioned to promote various development projects as part of their conservation work.Unlike project supervisors of government-sponsored or donor-led initiatives, conservationGender and community-oriented wildlife conservation 409123professionals in this sector are often able to establish their own project-based agendasincluding those related to gender. By adopting a case study approach, it is hoped thatspecific insights can be gained from the ground level that will have cross-cultural relevance.2 MethodsData collection took place using a mixed-methods approach including site visits of NGOs,an online survey questionnaire, and follow-up interviews. To develop the questionnaireitems, response options, and overall structure, ten in-person interviews were conducted in2007 with executive directors and programmatic directors of prominent wildlife NGOs inIndia. A ten-item questionnaire was then distributed among 72 supervisors of community-oriented wildlife conservation projects. Follow-up interviews with 15 questionnairerespondents were conducted in 20102011 to learn more about individual projects and tofurther understand responses. Identification codes used in this paper were randomlyassigned to ensure respondent anonymity. English was used in all parts of the study, as it isone of the official languages of India.2.1 Selection criteria, data collection, and analysis strategySupervisors of community-oriented wildlife conservation projects were identified using amulti-step process. First, four national-level directories of environmental NGOs in India(IUCN 2011; ENVIS 2011; TERI 2011; Sanctuary Asia 2011) were searched for the termswildlife, nature, and biodiversity, yielding a list of 317 potentially suitable NGOs.Database entries and/or web pages for each of the 317 NGOs were individually examinedto determine whether the NGO focused on wildlife and demonstrated a commitment to acommunity-oriented approach. A total of 18 wildlife NGOs with an explicit commitment tocommunity-oriented conservation were ultimately identified, of which eight agreed to bepart of the study. The eight NGOs sponsored a total of 72 community-oriented wildlifeconservation projects across India. Most projects were affiliated with four large NGOs witha national presence, whereas a smaller number were affiliated with the four smaller, locallyoriented organizations (coded in Table 1 as NGOs A, B, C, D, and other NGOs, respec-tively). Beyond anti-discrimination policies for employment practices, none had formalgender-related guidelines in place at the time of the survey.Between April 2010 and July 2011, the supervisors of the 72 projects were invited torespond to a self-administered online questionnaire about their project-based experiencesand professional backgrounds. When invited to take the survey, project supervisors weregiven information about study objectives, methodology, survey format, and confidentiality.Project supervisors were asked ten closed-ended questions and prompted, but not required,to provide explanatory comments. This paper focuses on the four questions related topersonal experiences and related perspectives. To achieve a degree of standardization inthe questionnaire, a working definition of the term gender issues was provided torespondents: any difference between men and women that could influence project out-comes. Several examples were given as a preface to questionnaire items, including thefollowing: inequitable differences in educational status, employment opportunities, controlof household resources, role in decision-making, status in the community, participation instakeholder groups, use of environmental resources, or impacts of environmental usechange patterns. Text of the actual questionnaire items reported in this paper is given inTables 2 and 3. At the end of the survey, respondents were invited to provide contact410 M. V. Ogra123information if they were willing to participate in a follow-up interview. A total of 17individuals did so, leading to 15 follow-up interviews in-person or by phone.Simple summary statistics of responses were tabulated. In addition, Pearson Chi-squaretests were used to determine whether there were significant differences at the p = 0.05level in the responses to questions 13 (Table 2) with respect to six demographic variables:gender (man or woman), age class (2534, 3544, 4554), years of professional experience(over or under 10 years), level of education (doctoral degree or other degree), main area ofspecialization (natural science or other), and institutional affiliation (NGOs A, B, C, D, andE). Respondents explanatory comments were hand-coded to facilitate interpretation ofemergent themes related to differences in response frequencies (Denzin and Lincoln 2000).Selected quotations are drawn primarily from questionnaire responses and were chosenwith representativeness and clarity in mind.Table 1 Respondent profile* These details were solicited asopen-ended text. Somerespondents did not provide bothtypes of dataa Biology, Botany, Computerengineering, ConservationBiology, Ecology, EnvironmentalEngineering, EnviromentalManagement, EnvironmentalScience, Marine Science, NaturalResources Management, SoilScience, Wildlife Science,Zoologyb Anthropology, DevelopmentStudies, Economics, SocialWork, Sociology, Psychologyc Geography, Human Ecology;Combination of above fieldsPercentage (%)Institutional affiliation (n = 52)NGO A 27.0NGO B 13.5NGO C 23.0NGO D 29.0Other NGOs 7.5Gender (n = 52)Male 63.5Female 36.5Age (n = 52)1824 02534 32.73544 51.94554 15.455? 0Years working in conservation, including education (n = 52)Less than 1 year 012 years 7.735 years 19.2610 years 21.2More than 10 years 51.9Educational background: degree earned (n = 47)*Bachelors degree 6.5Masters degree 51.0Doctoral degree 40.5Other (law) 2.0No data provided 6.0Educational background: degree field (n = 40)*Natural sciencesa 70.0Social sciencesb 15.0Interdisciplinaryc 10.0Other (law; literature) 5.0Gender and community-oriented wildlife conservation 4111233 Results3.1 Demographic profile of survey respondentsOf 72 individuals invited to participate in the survey, 52 completed the surveys (a responserate of 72.2%). The respondents tended to be men, between 35 and 44 years of age, with agraduate degree in the natural sciences, and characterized by more than 10 years of pro-fessional conservation work experience (Table 1). Chi-square tests showed that responsesto the four items examined in this paper did not differ significantly (p = 0.05) with respectto categories of gender, age, experience, level of education, area of specialization, orinstitutional affiliation. Thus, the quantitative results reported in Tables 2 and 3 are notreported within these categories.3.2 Research question #1: How are gender issues viewed by project supervisors?A key task of the questionnaire was to gauge respondents attitudes about the relevance ofgender to their work. To this end, respondents were asked: In your opinion, identifyingTable 2 Questionnaire responses: training experiences and related attitudesQ. no. Question text A highpriorityA moderatepriorityA lowpriorityNota priority1 In your opinion, identifying andaddressing gender issues incommunity-oriented conservationprojects should be28/52(53.8%)23/52(44.2%)1/52(1.9%)0/52(0%)Q. no. Question text Yes No Do notknowDid notanswer2 Have you ever participated ingender-focused training/skillenhancement in support of yourconservation work?12/52 (23.1%) 40/52 (76.9%) 0/52 (0%) 0/52 (0%)3 Would you be likely to participate infuture gender-focused training insupport of your conservation work,if given the opportunity?45/52 (86.5%) 3/52 (5.8%) 4/52 (7.7%) 0/52 (0%)Table 3 Resource rankingsQ. no. How helpful would you find theseresources for incorporating gender intoyour conservation work?Most helpful Somewhat helpful Not helpful4 Written guidelines/policy 14/52 (26.9%) 34/52 (65.3%) 5/52 (9.6%)Case study materials 21/52 (40.3%) 26/52 (50.0%) 4/52 (7.7%)Technical training manuals 17/52 (32.6%) 30/52 (57.7%) 7/52 (13.4%)In-person training 34/52 (70.1%) 13/52 (25.0%) 4/52 (7.7%)Additional project member/Collaborator 21/52 (40.4%) 25/52 (48.1%) 6/52 (11.5%)Forum for discussion/interactionwith co-workers28/52 (53.8%) 17/52 (32.7%) 7/52 (13.4%)412 M. V. Ogra123and addressing gender issues in community-oriented conservation projects should be: ahigh priority, moderate priority, low priority, or not a priority (Table 2, Question 1). Atotal of 53.8% responded high priority, 44.2% responded moderate priority, and 1.9%responded low priority. No respondent selected should not be a priority.The qualitative responses offer insight into why respondents answered the way they did.Of the respondents who answered that gender issues should be a high priority, a few madea moral argument, citing a need to counter inequities against women or the importance ofsupporting goals of womens empowerment. Such respondents expressed a belief thataddressing gender issues in conservation also requires devoting more attention to under-standing womens lives in general. For example:The women in society will be able to come forward easily and communicate better iftheir social and health issues are understood and if they are approached by peoplesensitive to these issues (Respondent #16, Male).Most community-oriented conservation projects are operated by ecologists who lacktraining or exposure to social issues in general. It is indeed a high priority toincorporate social aspects and gender issues in natural resource conservation projects(Respondent #28, Female).However, most of these respondents made the practical argument that integrating genderimproved project outcomes. For example:Often development or conservation-oriented projects are designed with a one sizefits all approach, and do not include interventions to address issues of equity andparticipation by the marginal groups/communities, including womenwithoutwhich, these projects are bound to fail (Respondent #39, Male).In a given environment, womens day-to-day activities comprise as important a partof resource use as mens activities. Hence any conservation programme which failsto take account of their activities, world-views, decision-making capacities, andnegotiations (largely because of their lack of visibility in the public sphere) cannotclaim to have a holistic approach to the issue (Respondent #41, Female).In contrast, the respondents who answered that gender issues should be a moderatepriority offered quite different perspectives from the high priority group. These perspec-tives fell into four general camps. First, several members of this group expressed concernsthat an increased focus on gender issues could compete with conservation goals for project-related resources including time and funding. For example:In such projects, addressing the conservation issues should be the first priority.(Respondent #37, Male).Attempting to simultaneously tweak more than one sociocultural dial within suchcommunities appears to be a difficult task, particularly when conservation money ishard to come by (Respondent #23, Male).Given that I had limited resources and time, it has largely been ignored (Respondent#31, Female).Secondly, a few of them believed that a community-oriented approach necessarily includesattention to gender issues; therefore, special attention to gender is not necessary. Forexample:Gender and community-oriented wildlife conservation 413123If you work with the community, automatically you will be addressing gender issues(Respondent #18, Male).The main objective of the work is conservation, while ensuring the welfare of thecommunity. Gender issues should be highlighted if and when there is a need for it,else we should try to focus more on the impact on the community and how they areusing their resources In a conservation project, it is important to see the impact onthe whole community, rather than on men and women separately (Respondent #15,Female).Third, many (56%) of the 18 moderate priority respondents who offered explanatorycomments expressed doubt that gender is always relevant to conservation practice. Forexample:Basically I feel that it is a poor assumption that the attitudinal difference between thegenders plays a major role in managing natural resources (Respondent #42, Male).It depends on your objective. If it is for a particular species, for climate change, etc.,then it is not a top priority (Respondent #16, Male).Respondents in this group suggested that gender is only one of many socioeconomicvariables and it may not be among the most important factors for conservationprofessionals to consider. Some described gender issues as possibly peripheral andtangential in relation to other, more pressing concerns with implications for the successof conservation projects. For example:While gender issues are of great importance for overall community developmentprojects, in the narrower window through which we approach it (primarily in relationto natural resource management), it may not be of the highest priority in relation toother aspects such as tenure rights, access, etc. (Respondent #32, Male).In the communities I work in, gender roles run deep, and while it is important toaddress issues within any conservation programme, they are, in my opinion, tan-gential to the purpose of our conservation efforts, which attempt to address liveli-hood issues related to ecosystem change (Respondent #23, Male).Although I am interested in trying to factor it in for a greater understanding that maylead to better outcomes, I had also felt that it was somewhat peripheral to the mainwork (Respondent #31, Female).Fourth, some respondents in this group expressed concern about the unanticipatedconsequences that could result from an explicit and expanded focus on gender. Tworespondents voiced the concern that such an approach could inadvertently increase theoverall workload for individuals, especially women, in project communities. As theysuggested:Both the genders have a very clearly defined role in a community. It is important tounderstand these roles and plan the project accordingly. The project should notincrease the burden on either gender by giving them roles that they are not familiarwith or are unwilling to take part in (Respondent #15, Female).Women should be involved, but not overly as they are already overburdened(Respondent #13, Female).414 M. V. Ogra123One respondent reported that identifying and addressing gender issues in conservationshould be a low priority. In explanatory comments, he expressed doubts about whetherrelevant gender differences exist at all, given that communities increasingly rely on cash topurchase environmental resources. However, suggesting that conservationists efforts topromote gender equity through their projects may not always be effective, he later added:It will be a good exercise to decide where gender equalities will work and where theywill not (Respondent #42, Male).It is important to note that respondents, despite being given an operational definition ofgender issues, often had distinct perceptions about what is meant by the terms genderand gender issues. In explanatory comments and interviews, the term gender was nearlyalways used as a shorthand term for womens issues and defined without reference tomen. When programmatic directors and project supervisors were asked to translate theterm gender into field languages or to provide their own definition, for example, theyoften had difficulty. As one such interviewee reflected:Hmm. How do I define gender? Its a philosophy. I dont know how to define it.When I go to a study I dont think of them as otheryou dont create a separateentity for women. No, I dont know, how would I put it? Its difficult its difficult.You know what you are not supposed to do, you know what you are supposed to do,dos and dontsbut how to put it across? You know that when you go to a com-munity you have to go and ensure that there is a parity, that everyone is feelingincluded, that you have to meet everybodys view, that whatever decisions you aremaking is not going in favor of one But if you ask me to define the whole thing,its a tough take. With gender, you cant have a blanket definitionthere is a bit ofgender in everything (Interview, Oct. 2007).In addition, during fieldwork in India, I observed conservationists asking questions to eachother about the gender (rather than sex) of a wild animal on numerous occasions. Whenasked to reflect on this issue during follow-up interviews, one suggested that the misusagewas probably unintentional and, in his opinion, reflective of a style of English that somepeople use, especially those who write a lot (Interview, June 2011). These perceptionsabout definitions of gender and gender issues no doubt influenced questionnaire responses.3.3 Research question #2: What types of resources would be most useful to projectheads seeking to more fully address gender-related aspects of their conservationwork?In an attempt to gauge reach and effectiveness of gender-focused training experiencesamong the wildlife conservations surveyed, respondents were asked a series of interrelatedquestions. First, they were asked: Have you ever participated in gender-focused training/skill enhancement activities in support of your conservation work? A total of 23.1% saidyes, while 76.9% said no (Table 2, Question 2).Respondents who answered no were then asked to identify which of four possiblereasons helped to explain why. Multiple selections were permitted. Two main reasonsemerged: Interested, but no opportunity (46% of respondents) and Lack of interest/notrelevant to my work (41% of respondents). Interested, but no time was reported as athird reason (selected by 19%), while 3% reported Other reasons (in both cases, therespondent believed he was already sufficiently experienced). Respondents who answeredyes (i.e., they had prior training experiences) were instead asked if the training wasGender and community-oriented wildlife conservation 415123voluntary or required, and subsequently prompted by the questionnaire to briefly narratethe types, duration, topics, and perceived value associated with their training experiences.Out of these 12 respondents, 58.3% reported voluntary participation and 41.6% reportedattendance as a work-related requirement. Nearly all training experiences were dedicatedworkshops or short courses, spanning a range of a half-day to as long as 2 weeks; graduateschool coursework was reported by one person. Three main topics were reported as thefocus areas of these training experiences: (1) gender theory, (2) women and naturalresource use patterns in India (emphasis on forests), and (3) practical strategies for par-ticipatory approaches to conservation-development work. When asked to describe the levelof utility of the training for the respondents own conservation work, all but one of therespondents described the experience in positive terms. For example:Very useful. These experiences have helped me in understanding the inequity in thepresent scenario and help me to think in a strategic manner while planning for theprojects (Respondent #19, Male).It has been a lot of personal empowerment intrinsically, and led to the establishing ofa new perspective for me (Respondent #12, Female).One respondent, however, evaluated it as having been not very useful and referred to theexperience a single-day gender sensitization workshop (Respondent #38, Female).All respondents were also asked about their attitudes toward gender-focused trainingand willingness to participate in the future. When asked, Would you be likely to par-ticipate in future gender-focused training in support of your conservation work, if given theopportunity? a total of 86.5% said yes (Table 2, Question 3). These respondentsexpressed a view that training would be valuable for improving research design andplanning for more effective wildlife conservation activities, especially in cases wheregender linkages are not obvious. For example:Would training and awareness on gender need to be preceded by some sort of socialscience training? Most conservationists do not even get that basic exposure to thesocial dimensions of conservation (Respondent #46, Male).Though it is a very important issue, not many consider it during project imple-mentation. I think the training should start early in life (Respondent #1, Male).I am now starting to work on the questionnaire surveys and did not think it [gender]to be relevant at this point of time. However, I am sure that training in this regardmight lead to a more varied approach. I would like to know more about genderanalysis in wildlife conservation (Respondent #24, Female).I did not realize the importance of gender issues until later Because the issue washunting, I naturally focused on men in the community. Most decision-makingseemed to be largely by men. However, women do go to the forests to collectfirewoodmen also assist in a large way in thisand also go fishing in the com-munity I work withWomen are likely to play a significant role in decision-making,even if it appears that men are the ones taking it. A better understanding and sen-sitivity to of gender differences and inequities is also necessary [and] may have apositive impact on project outcomes (Respondent #31, Female).Of the seven respondents in the do not know and no category, five were men andtwo were women. Time constraints were reported as the main factor in willingness toparticipate for one of the three respondents who answered no and for the two women,416 M. V. Ogra123who said do not know. The other two do not know respondents were men who cited theneed for demonstration of linkages and relevance of such training for their work. Resistanceand skepticism of deriving benefit from training was reported by the remaining tworespondents, who cited the value of their own experiential knowledge in responding no:I am aware of the gender issue and its importance, and that is sufficient for my work(Respondent #16, Male).I dont want my way of thinking and ideology to get diluted/polluted by the textbookknowledge on these topics spitted out by these so-called resource people. I trust thatmy experiences are better than these trainings (Respondent #37, Male).Lastly, respondents were presented with six specific possible training resources: (1)written guidelines/policy, (2) case study materials, (3) technical training manuals, (4) in-person training, (5) additional project member/collaborator, and (6) forum for discussion/interaction with co-workers. Respondents were then asked the question, How helpfulwould you find these resources for incorporating gender into your conservation work? andinstructed to rate each as either most helpful, somewhat helpful, or not helpful(Table 3). Two resources received a modal response of most helpful: in-person training(selected by 70.1%) and forum for discussion/interaction with co-workers (selected by53.8%). The other four resources had modal responses of somewhat helpful: writtenguidelines/policies (65.3%), technical training manuals (57.7%), case study materials(50%), and additional project member/collaborator (48.1%).In explanatory comments, several respondents expressed that in-person training isimportant to help bridge gaps between policy and practice, both at institutional levels andon-the-ground:Government has passed a law to get more participation of women in the developmentprocess. However, training for capacity building is still not on the priority agenda(Respondent #51, Male).In todays context, where governments are trying to decentralize natural resourcemanagement, the role of women needs to be recognized in a much larger context(Respondent #49, Male).The understanding of the issues has still to be developed and understood (Respondent#20, Female).Explanatory comments also underscored the views that the availability of trainingopportunities and the creation of new forums for discussion could be useful for promotingreflection about the ways in which conservation practice can engage with gender issuesmore effectively. For example, of the 19 respondents who contributed final thoughtsupon completion of the questionnaire, 47% indicated that they were now thinking moreabout the role of gender in conservation work or asked if further information could bedisseminated. These respondents indicated that participation in the study was itself onesuch entry point. For example:I might have considered incorporating gender issues into my study if I had theopportunity for training. Could I contact you in case I have queries? (Respondent#30, Female).It is a very well thought-out and interesting questionnaire. I would be interested infinding out the results of your study (Respondent #31, Female).Gender and community-oriented wildlife conservation 417123This questionnaire helps in motivating people to carry out or include componentsrelated to gender issues. I am not now involved in any projects relating to gender, butI am planning to develop programs pertaining to human-wildlife conflict and genderissues (Respondent #41, Female).This was a simple yet quite effective survey (Respondent #18, Male).It is only when someone like you comes along to ask such questions that we take thetime to actually think about and discuss such issues (Respondent #7, Male).While written resources (guidelines/policy, case studies, and training manuals) eachreceived a modal response of somewhat helpful, many respondents described them asmost helpful (Table 3). Two respondents who placed a high value on formal policiesobserved, for example, that project supervisors sometimes need an official push to adopta gender-based approach. For example:There needs to be an external driver to do this. Left to itself, a conservation orga-nization may be sensitive to but still not apply gender-focused work ethics(Respondent #5, Male).The organization does do some lip service to gender-equality or inequality as part ofits projects, but that is more because of donor compliances and because it is polit-ically correct to do so! (Respondent #2, Male).Respondents prioritizing case studies noted that dissemination of success stories andpractical examples of the issues would be particularly helpful and called for moreempirical research illustrating gender-based linkages to wildlife conservation. A fewreported a particularly acute need for lessons drawn from studies conducted in the marine/freshwater ecology context, and others noted a need to learn more about cultural contextsbeyond the Himalayan region. Several respondents cited a need for specific strategies toguide gender-based data collection and analysis.Lastly, additional collaborators or project members were ranked as most helpful orsomewhat helpful by 88.5% of respondents, although there were mixed opinions aboutwhat such a person might do. Two respondents comments are illustrative of respondentsreactions to the suggestion that their own work might be enhanced through project staffing:I believe that gender issues are important in and of themselves, and need to beaddressed with separate skilled programmes geared specifically for the cause(Respondent #23, Male).Rather than any of these, the commitment and sincerity of the person is the mostimportant thing (Respondent #37, Male).4 DiscussionThis study presents a picture of the demographic profile, perceptions, priorities, and atti-tudes held by supervisors of community-oriented conservation projects in India. In contrastto other studies that identify education, work environment, and age as important predictorsof conservationists attitudes (Karanth et al. 2008), this study found that answers toquestionnaire items did not vary significantly by gender, age, institutional affiliation, levelof education, degree type, area of specialization, or years of professional experience. This418 M. V. Ogra123finding is interesting as it suggests that the views of project supervisors are may be shapedby factors that are not specific to any particular demographic group. In the case of gender,this result may come as something of a surprise given that it is a widely held assumptionthat womens presence in development organizations, for example, is itself sufficient topromote womens larger strategic interests and needs (Porter and Sweetman 2005). AsPorter and Sweetman point out, and as this study also demonstrates, this is a misplacedassumption.The study also shows that project supervisors are broadly supportive of integratinggender into conservation work so long as the practices have been shown to improveconservation outcomes. Nearly all (98.1%) of the surveyed project supervisors reported abelief that identifying and addressing gender issues in community-oriented wildlife con-servation is a moderate or high priority, most (86.5%) were willing to participate in gender-focused training, and most (90%) reported that they would find in-person trainingopportunities to be valuable in terms of their personal capacity building and professionaldevelopment. While it is possible that respondents felt obligated to respond in politicallycorrect ways by expressing support, there is no evidence from the survey to support thisinterpretation. To the contrary, numerous respondents who believe that gender issues areimportant to conservation also openly expressed diverging opinions on how, why, and theextent to which gender issues are relevant. The disagreement on the details may be onereason why gender issues have been only unevenly integrated into community-orientedconservation, despite the push from policy guidelines and within the peer-reviewedliterature.The study suggests several reasons for the diverse views on the details of gender issuesin community-oriented conservation, which may cause the disconnection between rhetoricand practice. First, the project supervisors represented in this study, who are primarilynatural scientists, lack guidance about gender and wildlife conservation that is grounded inempirical research. Most gender-focused research on in-situ biodiversity conservation doesnot directly relate to wildlife, but instead to agrobiodiversity, traditional resource man-agement strategies, and collective environmental activism. In the absence of research thatdirectly applies to their particular environmental and cultural setting, project supervisorssimply make assumptions about what is or is not related to gender. This was illustrated bysome respondents explanatory comments, such as the project supervisor who suggestedthat gender issues are not relevant to projects concerned with specific wildlife species or toclimate change. The respondent was not aware of the growing literature related to gender-based aspects of human-wildlife conflict (e.g., Treves et al. 2006; Ogra 2008; Yang et al.2010; Campbell and Alvarado 2011) or climate change (e.g., Cutter 1995; Denton 2002;UNCSW 2008; Terry 2009). Increased levels of collaboration in scholarship and researchbetween wildlife biologists and social scientists could help to address this research gap.Field-based conservation researchers (i.e., project supervisors and their staff members)could also assist in filling this gap by identifying potential gender issues associated withtheir projects at an early stage and by writing and talking about them. Such steps wouldsupport project supervisors in making decisions based on evidence, rather than gut feelings,highly theoretical literature, or general policy prescriptions.A second reason for the diverse views on gender issues in community-oriented wildlifeis a lack of gender-related training or other professional development opportunities forproject supervisors. The existing empirical and theoretical research on the links betweengender and community-oriented conservation has been influential in the realm of inter-national policy but has largely not been incorporated into professional training. Moser andMosers (2005) review of gender policies and practices in 14 large international institutionsGender and community-oriented wildlife conservation 419123(including the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme) reports aconsistent need for additional and improved gender training at all levels. The questionnaireresults in this study suggest that project supervisors are receptive to such training but havenot had many opportunities. Yet even if training was more commonly available, the type oftraining offered in NGOs often does not result in substantive change (Porter and Sweetman2005). An ongoing and consistently refreshed institutional approach that offers frequent,high-quality, culturally appropriate, and context-specific training opportunities, however, islikely to address the additional constraints of staff turnover and initial participant resistance(Moser and Moser 2005: 17). Such an approach should not rely on gender specialists butinstead focus on creating a cadre of professionals who are each responsible for ensuringthat the planning and implementation of their projects account for gender issues where theyrelate to conservation (Wendoh and Wallace 2005; Dawson 2005).A third reason for the diverse views on gender issues in community-oriented wildlifeconservation is linguistic and conceptual in nature. This study reveals that some confusionexists in the conservation community over the meaning and implications of the key termsused by gender specialists. Among social scientists, the term gender refers to a culturallyassigned identity usually (but not always) associated with ones biological sex. However,the term is often misunderstood as an isolated concept related exclusively to womensissues or used as a synonym for biological sex, divorced from its important connotationswith cultural context and related power hierarchies. These are important differences withreal implications. When projects are designed with women in mind and not gender morebroadly, women may bear an undue burden of participating in a project, thereby increasingtheir already heavy workload (Guijt and Shah 1998; Elmhirst and Resurrection 2004).Similarly, it is clear from the study that gender is also sometimes viewed as of secondaryimportance when compared to land tenure issues, access to rights, and livelihood issuesmore broadly. This position, however, contrast sharply with a wide and well-establishedbody of literature, which demonstrates that gender-based factors interact with class/caste/ethnicity to influence conservation outcomes related to such socioeconomic issues(Agarwal 1994; Rocheleau et al. 1996; Agrawal and Gibson 2001; Deda and Rubian 2004;Elmhirst and Resurrection 2008; Flintan and Tedla 2010).Together the cases of linguistic and conceptual muddiness reported here suggest thatwithout a clear, theoretically and empirically informed framework to guide their work,project supervisors will continue to find it difficult to discuss or make informed decisionsabout how projects can (or should) engage with gender-related issues. Again, culturallyappropriate training experiences would likely help to demonstrate relevance, clarify thechallenges, and suggest feasible entry points for conservationists seeking to implement theequity-related aspects of the CBD, Agenda 21, MDG, and similar international agreements.The lack of guidance, the lack of formal training, the lack of a standard vocabulary allpoint toward a simple and easily implemented measure: providing additional opportunitiesfor members of the conservation community to discuss gender issues. Many projectsupervisors believe they would benefit from more opportunities to discuss the potential roleof gender inequities for conservation outcomes and the specific ways that their proposed orongoing projects can influence social outcomes (including perpetuation of or challenges togender inequities). Several respondents reported that the questionnaire and follow-upinterviews themselves were a catalyst for reflection about gender issues in their conser-vation work. At an institutional level, increased opportunities might include distribution/discussion of relevant case study resources, or institutionally sponsored forums whereconservation professionals could simply exchange ideas and experiences about their pro-jects. Workshops, email lists, discussion groups, social media such as Facebook pages, and420 M. V. Ogra123other forms of communication could also help project members share ideas. Increasedpartnership with the international donor community could also help to support efforts toimprove the integration of gender issues, an emphasis in project work that Wendoh andWallace (2005) suggest is often a pre-condition for funding agreements.5 ConclusionThis case study of attitudes and perceptions of project supervisors of community-orientedwildlife conservation project reveals that while there is widespread general support forintegrating gender issues into community-oriented wildlife conservation, many are con-cerned that gender represents a potentially distracting and secondary issue. Several reasonsfor the diverse views on gender and wildlife conservation were identified: a dearth ofempirical research about gender issues and wildlife; lack of training opportunities;ambiguities about the concept of gender itself; and a lack of adequate opportunities todiscuss the role of gender in conservation. These factors may help explain the discon-nection between perspectives on the ground and the forceful policy statements related togender and conservation.The study draws on experiences of project supervisors from India, but the issues raisedby the study are cross-culturally relevant. Gender differences in resource use exist acrossdiverse ecological and cultural settings. The success of community-oriented wildlifeconservation to a large extent depends on a keen understanding of local dynamics related togender, caste, and class. More studies of perspectives on the ground are needed to createa comprehensive picture of conservation professionals views about gender in a multitudeof settings. To strengthen links between conservation rhetoric and practices, increasedopportunities for professional capacity building among project supervisors and staffmembers will be critical. 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Ogra123Gender and community-oriented wildlife conservation: views from project supervisors in IndiaAbstractIntroductionMethodsSelection criteria, data collection, and analysis strategyResultsDemographic profile of survey respondentsResearch question #1: How are gender issues viewed by project supervisors?Research question #2: What types of resources would be most useful to project heads seeking to more fully address gender-related aspects of their conservation work?DiscussionConclusionReferences
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