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New masculinities: a strategy for conserving coastal biodiversity in central America

International Union for Conservation of Nature

International Union for Conservation of Nature

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IUCN, with USAID support, is implementing a conservation project in coastal biodiversity areas across Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with support from USAID, is implementing a conservation project in high coastal biodiversity areas of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The project emphasizes social inclusion and aims to strengthen community governance of natural resources while addressing gender-based violence.

Jackie Siles, a gender specialist at IUCN, highlights the importance of incorporating a gender perspective in environmental projects to combat violence against women. The project, led by IUCN, began in 2018 and focuses on coastal biodiversity conservation. Research by IUCN reveals that gender-based violence is linked to environmental pressures and unequal gender power dynamics in natural resource ownership and benefits distribution. Women play key roles in various aspects of the fisheries sector but face inequalities in access to resources, training, and decision-making, along with incidents of gender-based violence.

Through the AGENT partnership (Advancing Gender in the Environment) with USAID, a participatory gender analysis involving 178 people identified these disparities. It resulted in the development of a comprehensive gender strategy to integrate gender considerations into project implementation and monitoring.

An action plan was designed to reduce gender gaps, enhance livelihoods, and strengthen marine-coastal resource governance, benefiting women, men, youth, and Indigenous Peoples. The project has economically empowered 232 women, provided gender-focused training, and built the capacity of organizations to implement gender-sensitive actions. Additionally, efforts have been made to engage men and boys in preventing gender-based violence. Manuals on non-violent masculinities have been used for training, promoting positive transformations in male perspectives.

The project’s aim is to promote gender equality and biodiversity conservation by empowering women, fostering positive masculinities, and creating a supportive community for gender-responsive actions.