Does the gender composition of forest and fishery management groups affect resource governance and conservation outcomes? A systematic map

Craig Leisher, Gheda Temsah, Francesca Booker, Michael Day, Leah Samberg, Debra Prosnitz, Bina Agarwal, Elizabeth Matthews, Dilys Roe, Diane Russell, Terry Sunderland, David Wilkie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Background: Women often use natural resources differently than men yet frequently have minimal influence on how local resources are managed. An emerging hypothesis is that empowering more women in local resource decision-making may lead to better resource governance and conservation. Here we focus on the forestry and fisheries sectors to answer the question: What is the evidence that the gender composition of forest and fisheries management groups affects resource governance and conservation outcomes? We present a systematic map detailing the geographic and thematic extent of the evidence base and assessing the quality of the evidence, as per a published a priori protocol. Methods: We screened 11,000+ English-language records in Scopus, CAB abstracts, AGRIS, AGRICOLA, Google Scholar, and Google. The websites of 24 international conservation and development organisations, references of included articles, and relevant systematic reviews were also searched for possible documents. A number of groups and individuals were invited to submit documents through email 'call outs'. The inclusion criteria were that an article refers to women or gender, forests or fisheries, and a resource management group comparison in a non-OECD country plus Mexico and Chile. Results: Seventeen studies met the inclusion criteria. Four were qualitative and 13 were quantitative. Forest studies outnumbered fisheries studies 14-3. The majority of the studies came from India and Nepal and focused on forest management. All 17 studies identified improvements in local natural resource governance, and three identified conservation improvements when women participated in the management of the resources. Only two studies, however, were rated as high quality based on study design. Conclusions: For India and Nepal, there is strong and clear evidence of the importance of including women in forest management groups for better resource governance and conservation outcomes. Outside of India and Nepal, there are substantial gaps in the evidence base, but the South Asian evidence presents a compelling case for extending the research to other geographies to see if similar outcomes exist elsewhere and supports a theory of change linking the participation of women in forestry and fisheries management groups with better resource governance and conservation outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number57
JournalEnvironmental Evidence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 21 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research benefited from a gift to TNC by Amy Batchelor and Bradley Feld and the generous support of the American people through USAID under MTO 069018 (Biodiversity Fund) and REQ-EGAT-12-000014 (Measuring Impact) managed by the USAID Office of Forestry and Biodiversity/Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and the Environment. DfID’s KnowFor provided funding for the CIFOR and IIED contributions. IIED also received support from Danida (Denmark), Irish Aid, and Sida (Sweden). The authors’views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government or any other donor mentioned above. None of the funders had any role in the design of the study, collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data, or writing the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Leisher et al.


  • Community based
  • Conservation
  • Equity
  • Gender mainstreaming
  • Livelihoods
  • Sustainability
  • Systematic review


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