Women and Natural Resources Unlocking the Peacebuilding Potential

Published: November 2013

This report focuses on the relationship between women and natural resources in conflict-affected settings, and discusses how the management of natural resources can be used to enhance women's engagement and empowerment in peacebuilding processes. Part I of the report examines the relationship between women and natural resources in peacebuilding contexts, reviewing key issues across three main categories of resources: land, renewable and extractive resources. Part II discusses entry points for peacebuilding practitioners to address risks and opportunities related to women and natural resource management, focusing on political participation, protection and economic empowerment.

Key Findings

  • Coupled with gender discrimination, conflictrelated changes to natural resource access, use and control can significantly increase women's vulnerability and undermine their recovery.
  • Lack of access and rights to land lie at the heart of women's poverty and exclusion, limiting their ability to benefit equally from peacebuilding processes and to invest in community welfare.
  • Failure to recognize the specific natural resourcerelated challenges and opportunities for women in conflict-affected settings can perpetuate discrimination and exacerbate inequality in the peacebuilding period.
  • In the peacebuilding period, natural resource management provides a key entry point for enhancing women's empowerment by capitalizing on shifting gender roles and investing in women's productive capacity.
  • To respond to these risks and seize opportunities in the peacebuilding period, it is recommended that the following actions be taken by national governments and the international community: 1. Promote women's participation in formal and informal decision-making structures and governance processes related to natural resource management in peacebuilding; 2. Adopt proactive measures to protect women from resource-related physical violence and other security risks early in the peacebuilding period; 3. Remove barriers and create enabling conditions to build women's capacity for productive and sustainable use of natural resources; 4. Within the United Nations, increase inter-agency cooperation to pursue women's empowerment and sustainable natural resource management together in support of more effective peacebuilding.

Populations Women

Complementary Outcomes Peace And Security

Publishers United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office

Geographic Focus Africa (Central)-Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa (Eastern)-Burundi, Africa (Eastern)-Uganda, Africa (Northeastern)-Sudan, Africa (Northeastern)-Sudan-Darfur, Africa (Western)-Liberia, Africa (Western)-Sierra Leone, Asia (Central)-Afghanistan, Asia (Southeastern)-Indonesia-Aceh, Asia (Southern)-Nepal, Asia (Western)-Palestine-West Bank, Oceania-Papua New Guinea, South America (Northwestern)-Colombia

Funded by United Kingdom Department for International Development, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, Ministry of Gender and Family of the Republic of Korea