Women around the world are disproportionately stressed by unpaid care work and the effects of shocks, especially in emerging and rural economies. However, much of the work being done to transition to a net-zero economy is frequently fragmented, biased against women, and does not take into account their specific needs and interests. The Gender Equality in a Low-Carbon World (GLOW) research programme was initiated by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in response to this pressing knowledge gap. GLOW funded 12 initiatives in 17 low- and middle-income nations to investigate into how to incorporate women’s economic empowerment into low-carbon, climate-resilient transitions. Nepal was successful in bagging the two out of twelve projects which are implemented by ForestAction Nepal-, Economic Empowerment of Women through Forest Solutions in Sindhupalchok and Nawalparasi district while SIAS implementing Co-production of Shock Resilient Business Ecosystems for Women Engaged Enterprises (CREW) in Ramechhap, Dolakha and Arghakhanchi districts.
In order to share emerging findings, reflections and learnings between two above mentioned IDRC funded projects in Nepal under (GLOW) program and to identify the areas for collaborative outputs and synergy building for a better enabling environment on women’s economic empowerment in natural resource management sector, ForestAction Nepal along with the SIAS Nepal and their consortium partners organized the joint meeting on 28 June 2023 in the presence of the Dr. Bhim Adhikari, Senior Program Specialist /Sustainable Inclusive Économies – IDRC Canada.
ForestAction Nepal’s consortium partners, HIMAWANTI Nepal, AFFON, and FenFIT, presented their perspectives on approaches and strategies adopted in the project, reflected the achievements, issues and opportunities on women empowerment using forest solutions. The session specifically focused on enterprise and entrepreneurship, socio-political empowerment, sustainable forest management, knowledge dissemination. The research ideas were shared on the impact of forest-based enterprises, challenges of adopting feminist approaches in the consortium, procedural and policy challenges and societal issues, and key learnings encountered during the project interventions.
Similarly, SIAS’ partners (NIMS College, ARIA Solutions, and Himalayan Bio Trade Limited (HBTL)) reflected on 18 months into the CREW Project: Interventions, Approaches, and Reflections in its 3 districts under themes like understanding barriers and constraints, enterprise development through technological and institutional innovations, capacity enhancement to amplify voices and agency, and knowledge dissemination and policy uptake.
The common issue identification and discussion for synergy building were moderated by Dr. Naya Sharma Poudel and Dr. Dil Bahadur Khatri. The majority of the discussions centered on community forest users committee dynamics, policy-level constraints, and the joint collaboration between the consortium might be groundbreaking; the need for meso-level government engagement; societal-level constraints, challenges, and barriers; reflections; open dialogue; Intersectionality within the feminist approach; integrating the productive economy and the care economy; all these for ensuring the sustainability of the forest and agri-best enterprises.
Dr. Bhim Adhikari concluded with the emphasis on the dire need for comprehensive research shifting sectoral policy into macroeconomic policy, deeper analysis of the contradictory policies that restrict the use of the resources on which they are heavily dependent, taking all these stories of learning and co-learning into the global context, exploring how people perceive the upgrading of technology in society, exploring the stories of more incorporation of the private sector, fair trade, branding, and labelling for the sustainability of enterprises—all these for ground-breaking outcomes. He emphasized that now onwards he would appreciate a common outcome of learning from both FAN and SIAS on the research reports. His words of encouragement and critical feedback have opened up the path for both projects to pave their way in a more inclusive, sustainable, and productive way, analyzing them through a feminist approach with an intersectional lens.