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Research Report

Gender and forests in Nicaragua’s indigenous territories: From national policy to local practice

Eileen Mairena
Gema Lorio
Xochilt Hernández
Ceferino Wilson
Pilar Müller
Anne M. Larson
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2012
Pages: 60
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-1)

    The study ‘Gender, Tenure and Community Forests in Nicaragua’ began in 2010 through a collaborative research process between the Nitlapan Research and Development Institute of the Central American University (UCA) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), with financing from the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). It is part of a comparative study that is also being undertaken in Uganda.

    The Nicaragua research focuses on the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN). Nicaragua’s two autonomous regions contain about 70% of the nation’s forests and the vast majority of the country’s indigenous population, who are in the process of obtaining formal title...

  2. (pp. 2-5)

    Nicaragua’s North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions were established as a result of the approval in 1987 of the Autonomy Statute (Law 28). The two regions together make up 56.2% of the national territory (Envío 1981) and have a history that extends from being a relatively autonomous region, indirectly ruled by the British for over 200 years, to being run essentially by foreign investors with an enclave economy logic, to a slow insertion into the nation’s modus operandum after the 1979 Sandinista Revolution. The North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), where this study’s research is focused (Figure 1), has an area...

  3. (pp. 6-9)

    The research on gender, tenure and community forests in Nicaragua seeks to respond to three questions:

    1. To what degree are women involved in forest-related decision-making processes, definition of agendas, and participation in benefits at different levels of governance, from the local to the district (or territorial) and regional scales? What are the major impediments to their participation?

    2. Do governments (local, regional and national) and external actors such as nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) support women’s participation in community forest management? In what way and with what results?

    3. What kind of governance arrangements, processes and structures can be designed to foster women’s inclusion...

  4. (pp. 10-16)

    In general, the country’s laws are focused on supporting the overall wellbeing, social order and progress of Nicaragua’s citizens. In no law that we examined is there open discrimination regarding the actions of men and women, and most have the objective of promoting equality and gender equity, so that each individual can participate in the construction of development alternatives for the country. The majority of the laws reviewed are ‘gender blind’, and they include women explicitly but abstractly, such that all men and women are defined as equal before the law. Many national regulations are based on international agreements and...

  5. (pp. 17-24)

    This chapter examines gender and women’s participation at the level of institutions and organisations working in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), particularly with regard to forests. This includes state offices, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), donors and projects, and, as mentioned earlier, is mostly based on interviews.

    According to the typology of Bina Agarwal (2001: 1623), there are six levels of participation:

    nominal participation, which refers only to the individual’s presence as a group member

    passive participation, when an individual expresses a point of view without making decisions

    consultative participation, when the individual gives an opinion on specific issues but does...

  6. (pp. 25-44)

    The traditional organisational systems of indigenous peoples (Miskitu and Mayangna) in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) are rooted in two basic geographic spaces, the community and the territory, which are recognised in Nicaragua by different laws: the law of communal property (Law 445) and the Autonomy Statute (Law 28). Article 3 of Law 445 defines community as ‘the set of families of Amer-Indian ascendance established in a territorial space that share feelings of identification, linked to the aboriginal past of their indigenous people and that maintain their own identity and values of a traditional culture, as well as forms...

  7. (pp. 45-46)

    There are a number of obstacles to women’s participation in political processes generally and in natural resource management specifically, at all levels, ranging from the level of national and regional policy to the level of local practice. Although there are national and regional policies on women’s participation and equity, the discussion of incorporating these approaches into economic and political development processes is relatively new. This has impacts on the lack of openings for incorporating women into decision-making arenas regarding natural resources at different decision-making levels.

    A response to the lack of substantial changes in inequitable gender relations has been the...