Key Resources: Natural Resource Justice

Gender and natural resources
Gender and the extractive industries
Mining/fossil fuels
Land and forests
Water and hydropower
Women’s activism

Gender and natural resources

Gender and Natural Resources Management. Module 10 in the Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook (2009) The World Bank, UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Washington, DC

This chapter from the World Bank’s major resource on gender and agriculture provides a useful introduction to the subject of gender and natural resources. It frames the discussion in the context of an increasingly stressed environment, climate change caused by fossil-fuel use, and where the natural resources needed to sustain the human population will soon exceed available resources at current levels of consumption, but perhaps unsurprisingly given that this is the World Bank, makes no mention of the role of neo-liberal economic policies and big business in driving unsustainable development. With this caveat, the chapter nevertheless gives a valuable overview of the gendered dimensions of livelihoods directly dependent on natural resources, and includes key issues addressed in this issue of G&D. This is through its identification of five major challenges facing sustainable natural resource management and gender, these being: biodiversity conservation and adaptation; mitigation of, and adaptation to, the effects of climate change and variability; bioenergy; natural disasters; and land and water degradation and desertification.

Gender and Natural Resource Management: Livelihoods, Mobility and Interventions (2008) Bernadette P. Resurreccion and Rebecca Elmhirst (eds.), London and Sterling, VA: Earthscan, ISBN: 978-1-84407-580-5

This book is an edited collection, with a focus on Asia. The introductory chapter by the editors, ‘Gender, Environment and Natural Resource Management: New Dimensions, New Debates’, provides a theoretical examination of gender and the environment, and unlike the previous resource, very much situates the book’s analysis in the global economic and political context, ‘Crucial to any contemporary consideration of gender issues in natural resource management is recognition of the ways that this is given shape by the processes and practices inherent in wider macroeconomic policies associated with neo-liberalism in its various guises’ (p. 9), and the case studies that make up the book reflect the range of political and economic contexts across Asia in which natural resource management is being undertaken.

Gender and the extractive industries

Extracting Equality – A Guide (2014) Publish What You Pay & UN Women

Developed by Publish What You Pay – an international network of civil society organisations advocating for transparency and accountability in the extractives sector – and UN Women, this is a 12-point framework designed to guide thinking about natural resource extraction projects from a gender equality perspective. The framework provides a set of questions relating to women’s participation that should be considered for each step of an extractives project – from initial knowledge on the natural resources sector nationally, through to the decommissioning and dismantling of an operation.

How can the Extractive Industries Provide ‘Shared Value’ for Rural Women in Africa? Working Paper, March (2015) Progressio

In a context in which recent economic growth on the continent has largely been commodity-driven, with African governments increasingly focusing on the promotion of the landhungry extractive and agricultural sectors, this short paper first outlines the disproportionately negative effects for women of the operations of extractive industries. Making the point that the private sector is now seen as an important actor in delivering development goals, the paper highlights the lack of accountability the private sector faces in terms of adherence to human rights (including women’s human rights). Arguing that ‘[e]nsuring that communities, and especially women who lose access to their land as a result of the extractive industries, are not worse off than before, should be a basic precondition for companies’ “social license” to operate’ (p. 1), the paper then provides recommendations for both the private sector and for governments to ensure that extractive industries engage in inclusive development that supports gender equality.

Gender and the Extractive Industries: Putting Gender on the Corporate Agenda (2016) Christina Hill, Chris Madden, and Maria Ezpeleta, Australian Aid and Oxfam

This short paper from Oxfam seeks to make the case to those working in the extractives industry of the need to address the gender inequalities inherent in all phases of an extractive industry project, arguing that to fail to do so will result in risks to their own interests and undermine the development potential of the sector. The paper outlines the role a company gender policy and gender impact assessment can play in achieving better outcomes for women in communities affected by extractive operations. Also included are three short case studies – from South Africa, Papua New Guinea, and Guatemala, which demonstrate the risks to companies of ignoring gender issues.

Promoting Women’s Participation in the Extractive Industries Sector: Examples of Emerging Good Practices (2016) New York: UN Women

This paper provides a list of 12 good-practice examples from across the extractives sector globally, aimed at promoting gender-equitable participation in, and benefits from, the extractive industry. These include examples illustrating the protection of women and community and natural resources rights; employment for women in the extractives sector; supporting women’s entrepreneurship; and involving women in negotiation for extractive activities and resources.

Gender Justice in Consultation Processes for Extractives Industries in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru (2011) Gerardo Castillo and Laura Soria, Oxfam and Societas Consultora de Analisis Social

This report assesses women’s participation in community consultation in three extractive projects – oil in the cases of Bolivia and Ecuador, and copper in Peru – all of which involved land belonging to indigenous groups. Drawing on this assessment, the report sets out conclusions and recommendations for different stakeholders (states,
private companies, and civil society), with the goal of improving the participation of women in consultation processes. One of the key factors in explaining the exclusion of women from collective decision-making highlighted in the conclusions is their exclusion from the holding of property titles. The report argues that this must be addressed through national legislation and norms, even though this will inevitably lead to a clash between demands for individual rights for women, and collective rights for indigenous and peasant communities.

A Guide to Gender Impact Assessment for the Extractive Industries (2017) Christina Hill, Chris Madden, and Nina Collins, Melbourne: Oxfam

As with the paper above, this Oxfam guide is aimed at the extractives industry itself. It is a tool designed to provide guidance for companies in carrying out gender impact assessments (as recommended in the paper above) in their extractive operations, in order to overcome gender inequalities in the sector itself, and those that are exacerbated by extractive projects. The guide first briefly outlines the gendered impacts of mining, oil, and gas projects, then discusses the principles and approach that should be adopted when undertaking gender assessments, stressing that the focus should not just be on managing risks for the company, but on safeguarding the rights and interests of women and men from affected communities. The four-step gender impact assessment tool itself then follows.

Mainstreaming Gender in HIV and AIDS Responses in the Extractive Industries Sector (2015) Nairobi: UN Women

Produced by UN Women’s regional office for Eastern and Southern Africa, where mining communities have been particularly hard hit by HIV/AIDS, this is a quick reference guide designed for use by extractives companies in relation to their employees, employees’ families, and the wider community. It describes a number of key issues, including provision of healthcare; awareness and education; gender-based violence prevention; sex workers; workplace policies; and caregivers and families, with a corresponding set of gender-responsive actions to be taken in order to implement a gender-equitable response to the health challenges posed by HIV and AIDS.

Mining/Fossil fuels

Women Miners in Developing Countries: Pit Women and Others (2006) Kuntala Lahiri Dutt and Martha Macintyre (eds.) Aldershot, UK and Burlington, VT: Ashgate

This important, edited collection uncovers the role of women in mining, which although typically portrayed as a masculine enterprise, characterised by large-scale, highly-mechanised operations, has always employed women in productive roles. Case studies from Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, and Africa bring to light both women’s historic and contemporary involvement in various forms of mining, including small-scale, artisanal mining, and illustrate how gender together with intersecting ethnic identities and inequality are created and maintained in the mines.

Gendering the Field: Towards Sustainable Livelihoods for Mining Communities (2011) Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt (ed.) Canberra: Australian National University E Press

Having helped bring to ‘demasculinise’ mining itself, in Women Miners in Developing Countries (see above), expert in the field Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt broadens the focus here to explore issues of gender and the possibility of developing sustainable community livelihoods in both large-scale and informal, artisanal and small-scale mining in different parts of the world. In terms of sustainability, as the foreword to this edited collection points out, it is important that mining, as a non-renewable activity that destroys landscapes, be transformed into renewable economic practices that support livelihoods and replenish the environment (p. x). The book’s 12 chapters include an examination of mining agreement negotiations and indigenous women in Australia and Canada; an assessment of women and artisanal mining in post-conflict DR Congo; and a consideration of a government attempt to initiate gender-sensitive reform of the artisanal and small-scale mining sector in Mongolia.

‘Women, mining and development: an emerging research agenda’ (2014) Katy Jenkins, The Extractive Industries and Society 1(2): 329–39

In this extremely valuable article, which aims to provide a starting point for future research, the author draws from across disciplines and geographical locations to provide a critical review of the literature on women, mining, and development, examining the ways in which women in developing countries are affected by the expansion of extractive industries. The review focuses on four areas: women as mineworkers; the gendered impacts of mining, and specifically the disproportionately negative impacts on women; women’s changing roles and identities in communities affected by mining (which includes examples of women’s collective organising as miners, within mining communities, and in resistance to the mining industry); and finally, gendered inequalities in relation to the benefits of mining. With the review highlighting the lack of in-depth analysis of women’s experiences and positions across the areas discussed, the author stresses the need for much more empirical research to be undertaken, which recognises women’s diversity across ethnicity, class, age, and urban/rural locations, so as to be able to fully incorporate women into broader debates around the extractivist model of development.

‘No Longer A Life Worth Living’: Mining Impacted Women Speak through Participatory Action Research in the Somkhele and Fuleni Communities, Northern Kwazulu Natal, South Africa (2016) Nyonde Ntswana and Samantha Hargreaves, Johnannesburg: The WoMin African Gender and Extractives Alliance,

This is an excellent paper, documenting the dramatic impact of the operations of a local coal mine on water supply in the context of an extended drought, and the struggles of local women (who bear the brunt of water scarcity and associated ill-health), with the mine owners and local authorities to hold the mine owners to account, and to ensure an adequate water supply. Each section of the paper is augmented by policy and legal information, revealing how far short both mine owners and local and national government fall in meeting their obligations to communities.

Gender Dimensions of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining: A Rapid Assessment Toolkit (2012) Adriana Eftimie, Katherine Heller, John Strongman, Jennifer Hinton, Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt, and Nellie Mutemeri, Washington, DC: The World Bank

Making clear the extent of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) (globally, there are more than 20 million artisanal and small-scale miners and in some African countries ASM contributes more than 90 per cent of national mineral production), this resource is a tool for assessing the gendered impacts of ASM in a community. An initial introductory section argues that despite many negative aspects, including environmental damage, ASM can be an important source of local livelihoods and a driver of local economic development, and provides a helpful list of common characteristics of ASM (there being no single definition). The toolkit itself consists of an overarching framework, which incorporates the sustainable livelihoods approach, with its focus on assets/capital, and a set of tools on information gathering, informant interviews, site visits, participatory focus groups, and more. Also included is a case study section, which outlines the main findings and recommendations from using the toolkit in four pilot studies, in Lao PDR, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda, plus a set of recommendations and lessons learned for implementation of the toolkit.

Extracting Lessons on Gender in the Oil and Gas Sector: A Survey and Analysis of the Gendered Impacts of Onshore Oil and Gas Production in Three Developing Countries (2013) Jen Scott, Rose Dakin, Katherine Heller, and Adriana Eftimie, Washington, DC: The World Bank

Using evidence from Azerbaijan, Peru, and Papua New Guinea, this paper aims to uncover the ways in which the oil and gas industry contributes to what the authors call ‘gender gaps’ in the unequal distribution of assets and risks associated with oil and gas extraction projects. The paper identifies three ‘gender gaps’. The first is around assets, which it breaks down into the areas of entrepreneurship, land tenure and landowner royalties, and education and waged employment. The second is around information, which relates to consultation processes, grievance procedures, and transparency. The third is around vulnerability, as it relates to social capital (citing the ‘boomtown’ effects of some extractive operations on communities), and environmental capital, with damage to the environment often disproportionately affecting women.

Mining and Local-Level Development: Examining the Gender Dimensions of Agreements between Companies and Communities (2014) Julia Keenan and Deanna Kemp, Brisbane: Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, The University of Queensland

This report documents the findings of research into women’s participation in mining agreement processes between local communities and three different Australian mining companies in Papua New Guinea, Lao PDR, and Australia. This is in a context where agreements between extractive companies and local communities are becoming an increasingly common requirement for extractive industries to obtain a licence to operate. The report’s authors also surveyed existing literature on the subject, and conducted interviews with practitioners involved in mining agreements in a variety of countries. Key findings from the report include: levels of women’s participation was a product of existing gender dynamics in local culture, the wider society, and both company and community organisations; men tended to reap the most benefits from agreements; women’s involvement in agreement processes could generate increased involvement in community decision-making more broadly; quantitative measures of women’s representation and participation are not necessarily accurate indicators of equality or empowerment; and that there is a complex dynamic between women’s representation on behalf of family/clan groups and representing ‘women’s interests’.

‘Indigenous women and mining agreement negotiations in Australia and Canada’ (2011) Ciaran O’Faircheallaigh, in Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt (ed.) Gendering the Field:Towards Sustainable Livelihoods for Mining Communities, Canberra: ANU E Press, 87–109

In this book chapter (see also the author’s article, ‘Women’s absence, women’s power: indigenous women and negotiations with mining companies in Australia and Canada’Ethnic and Racial Studies 36(11): 1789–807), the author argues that the general consensus across academia, activism, and in NGO publications that indigenous women are excluded from negotiations, is an oversimplification. In the specifically Australian and Canadian contexts addressed here, and where, importantly, negotiations are seen in a broader context than just a focus on the interaction between negotiators from each side, women have not been excluded, and indeed have played key and in some cases dominant roles. Explanations offered for this include, specific cultural contexts that are conducive to, or at least do not prohibit women’s participation, and the emphasis on broad community participation and political mobilisation in preparations for negotiation, plus the availability of enough time and resources to ensure opportunities for participation can actually be realised by women.

Land and forests

From Under Their Feet: A Think Piece on the Gender Dimensions of Land Grabs in Africa (2012) Nancy Kachingwe, Johannesburg: ActionAid

Addressing the rising trend in corporate land deals, where foreign or domestic companies purchase large areas of land for commercial, capital-intensive farming for the production of food crops for export or for biofuels, the author of this paper considers the phenomenon from a gender perspective. After setting the last decade’s ‘rush for land’ in Africa in historical context – including Africa’s shift from ‘hopeless continent’ to ‘emerging Africa’; concerns over food security in the global North; and financial speculation on the price of agricultural land – the paper discusses the impacts of land grabs on rural women, the areas covered being rights to land and natural resources; the care economy and social reproduction; food security, rural poverty, and climate change resilience; and social cohesion, citizenship, violence, and conflict. The paper ends with recommendations for action aimed at governments, companies, and civil society organisations and activists.

Promises, Power and Poverty: Corporate Land Deals and Rural Women in Africa (2013) Nidhi Tandon and Marc Wegerif, Oxford: Oxfam

Touching on many of the issues covered in the document above, this paper highlights the impact of the loss of land on small-scale food production, largely carried out across the globe by women farmers, and which provides the food supply for rural, often impoverished communities. With examples taken from experiences of ‘land grabs’ in Africa, the paper outlines the gendered effects of the commercialisation of natural resources, plantation agriculture, and access to water. It goes on to offer potential solutions for securing women’s livelihoods and food security, which include: public investment in women’s small-scale local food production; securing women’s rights to land, either individually or as part of communal land holding; companies embedding a gender perspective in all environmental and social impact assessments, and honouring commitments made to communities; and development and human rights organisations working with rural women to build their collective voice in order to hold governments and companies and their investors to account.

Strategies to Get Gender onto the Agenda of the ‘Land Grab’ Debate. Policy Brief, March (2011) Elizabeth Daley, Mokoro/CIRAD/ILC

Published as part of the International Land Coalition’s (ILC) Commercial Pressures on Land initiative, this short briefing paper outlines why women are more likely than men to be negatively affected by large-scale land deals. This is characterised as women’s ‘fourfold vulnerability’, the most notable aspect being the constraints and discrimination women generally face in relation to access, ownership, and control of land. The paper sets out measures that need to be taken to address these vulnerabilities, and stresses that women’s groups and activists working to influence terms and conditions of land deals must not sacrifice gender issues in pursuit of tackling broader ‘class’ issues, as they will only be effectively addressed if included at the outset. For a fuller discussion of the issues involved, see the author’s 79-page report for the ILC, Gendered Impacts
of Commercial Pressures on Land (2011)

Global Rights, Local Struggles: Barriers to Women’s Participation in Community Land Decision-making (2017) Celine Salcedo La-Viña

With the obtaining of community development agreements, community participation, including the obtaining of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, now regarded as good practice in extractive projects, and as mandatory in the case of extractive operations on land belonging to indigenous people, this blog helps explain why the meaningful participation of women in decisions over community-held land remains elusive. Citing evidence from a recent comparative analysis of national laws and regulations on women’s rights to community forests the author highlights the tenuous nature of women’s community membership. Only a third of the community-based tenure regimes studied explicitly recognise women as community members, and only two countries had tenure regimes that explicitly ensured women’s voting rights in community decision-making bodies, with a mandatory quorum of women required before a decision can be made. Sixty-five of the 80 community-based tenure regimes failed to acknowledge women’s right to vote or did not address community decision-making processes at all. This, as the author points out, leaves most women vulnerable to customary norms that see men as the holders of community tenure and voting rights.

Transforming the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil for Greater Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. Infobrief No. 166, December (2016) Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, Sophia Gnych, and Cut Augusta Mindry Anandi, Center for International Forestry Research

Globally, forests are being cleared not only for timber, but so that land can be used for commercial purposes, with the development of palm oil plantations, particularly in South-East Asia, a notable example. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is the leading international standard for sustainable palm oil. Companies must adhere to its set of environmental and social criteria in order to gain certification as Certified Sustainable Palm Oil. This short paper critiquing the standard from a gender perspective also provides an excellent overview of gender-related concerns in oil palm production systems in Indonesia – which is the world’s largest producer of crude palm oil, and where palm oil plantations (small-holder and large plantations) directly support around 1.46 million households. The paper discusses the ways in which production of palm oil in both large-scale and small-holder plantations exacerbates existing inequalities, and introduces new ones. Focus areas are around land rights (in terms of women’s dispossession from land), labour (lack of access to decent employment/remuneration as oil palm workers), and decision-making (lack of women’s participation).

The Gendered Politics of Dispossession: Oil Palm Expansion in a Dayak Hibun Community in West Kalimantan, Indonesia (2011) Julia White and Ben White, paper presented at the International Conference on Global Land Grabbing, 6–8 April, Brighton, University of Sussex

This article describes the effects of the expansion of corporate oil palm plantations and contract farming in one indigenous community in Indonesia. This expansion undermined the position and livelihoods of indigenous women, who while having no access to formal community politics did have customary rights to the land. With the coming of the palm oil company, the land was divided into smallholder units and registered in the names of male family heads, who were given the best jobs on the plantation. Women lost access to resources that the forest had provided and that had brought them extra income, and ended up being solely responsible for rice cultivation, previously a joint enterprise. Dayak custom forbids the selling of rice, and eventually all unpaid labour came to be seen as women’s work, and what wages they earned as supplementary to household income. In the context of a greater need for cash in an increasingly dominant cash economy, the women welcomed a cash income, but this is balanced with the loss of customary access to the forest and the related ‘masculinisation’ of land and cash income, pollution, lack of clean water, and other negatives.

‘The role of women in early REDD+ implementation: lessons for future engagement’ (2015) A.M. Larson, T. Dokken, A.E. Duchelle, S. Atmadja, I.A.P. Resosudarmo, P. Cronkleton, M. Cromberg, W. Sunderlin, A. Awono, and G. Selaya, International Forestry Review 17(1): 43–65

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) is a major, UN-supported scheme in developing countries, aiming to address climate change while alleviating poverty. Globally, deforestation is responsible for a substantial proportion of global carbon emissions, and through REDD+, countries are paid for the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that they avoid in order to protect the forest and its role in carbon capture and storage. Programmes at a national level operate to promote sustainable forest management and livelihoods. The research in this article, based on surveys of 77 villages in 20 REDD+ sites across six countries, finds that despite safeguard policies intended to ensure that REDD+ does not harm women, even where women use forests as much or more than men, they have been less involved in REDD+ initiative design decisions and processes than men. The article argues that interventions that do not seek to address gender imbalances from the beginning may be doomed to perpetuate them, and that ‘participation’, while a central demand of indigenous and other local communities more generally, is only a partial solution to addressing women’s strategic needs in ways that could strengthen their position in REDD+. Instead, rigorous, gender-responsive analysis is needed in order to understand real and perceived gender differences, and to ensure that REDD+ is a gender equitable response to the issue of deforestation and forest degradation.

Water and hydropower

Balancing Pains and Gains: A Perspective Paper on Gender and Large Dams: World Commission on Dams Thematic Review 1.11(b) Final Paper (2000) Lyla Mehta

Although nearly 20 years old now, this paper offers what is still, nevertheless, a comprehensive consideration of the many aspects of dam construction from a gendered perspective. Using a lens of equity and distribution issues and examples from dam-building projects around the world, issues of displacement and resettlement are discussed, along with the gendered results in the ‘command’ areas – that is, those areas that experience the benefits of the dam, in the form of irrigation water and electricity. The paper ends with sections on best practices and principles, guidelines and recommendations. See also the author’s short piece from 2011, ‘No plot of one’s own: how large dams reinforce gender inequalities’ in World Rivers Review 26(1): 3–15,  in which she touches on many of the issues discussed in Balancing Pains and Gains.

‘Gender, large-scale development, and food insecurity in Lesotho: an analysis of the impact of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project’ (2010) Yvonne Braun, Gender & Development 18(3): 453–64

With a focus on household food provisioning – a predominantly female responsibility – this article examines the compensation policy instituted as part of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) – a large-scale multi-dam project in the rural highlands of Lesotho, in southern Africa. Dam building resulted in loss of land and resettlement for local people, with different effects for women and men. The article reveals the ways in which the compensation policy of the LHWP served to reinforce and exacerbate existing gender inequalities, and negatively affected women’s ability to secure food for their families, putting them at risk of becoming food insecure within their own households.

‘Mountain women, dams, and the gendered dimensions of environment protest in the Garhwal Himalaya’ (2014) Georgina Drew, Mountain Research and Development 34(3): 235–42

In this article the author documents the ways in which women’s efforts in campaigning against hydroelectric dam building on the Upper Ganges were overlooked, with men taking the prominent positions, and failing to represent the development concerns of women. This is, as the author notes, contrary to the popular image of environmental campaigning in India, where women have been highly visible, in protests on the Narmada River, and in the Chipko movement in the Himalayas, for example. In researching the women’s opposition to dam creation, the author found a combination of livelihood preoccupations combined with worries for the socio-religious aspects of life centred on the Ganges, viewed as a sacred river. Women’s concerns were ‘as numerous as their backgrounds and did not reflect an inherent connection to “nature” in ways that were different from those of men [ ]’ (p. 236). However, many shared the view that they had little to gain from dam building projects, with their mountain homeland regarded primarily as a source of raw materials and income tax, and had in common dreams of development projects that weren’t destructive, such as plant nurseries, better schools and hospitals, and more affordable solutions for village electrification.

Balancing the Scales: Using Gender Impact Assessment in Hydropower Development (2013) Michael Simon, Oxfam Australia and GCIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food

With a target audience of governments and those implementing dam building projects, this is a manual designed to provide a basic tool for integrating a gender impact assessment (GIA) into hydropower developments. While applicable in a global context, the manual draws on examples and experiences from the lower Mekong Basin (Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam). The manual first outlines the gendered impacts of hydropower projects, gender bias within the industry, the policy and legislative context, and makes the business case for carrying out a GIA. The tool itself is then presented. This includes steps and checklists for conducting pre-project data collection and baseline work, methods for understanding the context, issue identification, needs assessments, creation of a gender action plan, and review, audit, and response methodology.

Women’s activism

Ecofeminism (Second Edition) (2014) Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, London: Zed Books, ISBN: 9781780325637

Originally published in 1993, this hugely influential book linked the patriarchal oppression of women with the profit-driven exploitation and destruction of the natural world, and strongly critiqued the capitalist, industrialising model of development, based on continuous economic growth. The authors call instead for sustainable production for subsistence, and a rejection of commoditisation of needs, and the violence inherent in what is in effect a neo-colonial neo-liberal project. The 2014 edition includes a new foreword and a new preface and introductory chapter by the authors.

‘Earth mother myths and other ecofeminist fables: how a strategic notion rose and fell’ (2007) Melissa Leach, Development and Change 38(1): 67–85

In this fascinating article, the author traces the history of what she calls the ‘women and environment discourse’ in development, from images of women. Providing an excellent summary of ecofeminist strands of thought, including the central premise of Maria Mies’ and Vandana Shiva’s book, Ecofeminism (see above), the author explains how ideas about the connections between women and the environment have developed within development thinking and have risen and fallen in popularity, with a particularly interesting section on the critiquing of the inherent, biological connection between women and nature propounded by many ecofeminists.

‘“Eventually the mine will come”: women anti-mining activists’ everyday resilience in opposing resource extraction in the Andes’ (2015) Katy Jenkins and Glevys Rondón, Gender & Development 23(3): 415–31

The experiences of women anti-mining activists in rural communities in Peru and Ecuador are explored in this article. The authors use the concept of resilience to understand the continued commitment of women activists to this work in the face of conflict, intimidation, and violence. Examining women activists’ experience of negotiating conflicts with large-scale mining companies and within their own communities, the authors make clear the determination of the women activists, who, despite being among an increasingly small minority of their communities opposing the mining companies, nevertheless continue to engage in collective action against resource extraction, while acknowledging the inevitability of the arrival of mines in their communities.

Women Human Rights Defenders Confronting Extractive Industries: An Overview of Critical Risks and Human Rights Obligations (2017) Immaculada Garcia, Toronto: AWID and Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition

Arguing that women who confront extractive industries in order to defend land and communities are not only challenging corporate power but defying gender norms in what are often deeply patriarchal societies, this report outlines the kind of gender-specific risks faced by women human rights defenders (WHRDs). These include criminalisation, stigmatisation, violence, and marginalisation within their own movements and communities. For each risk, the report sets out the relevant international and/or regional human rights standards that apply (e.g. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women), to which states can be held accountable. A further section describes what current regulatory frameworks exist for holding business and multinational corporations to account for their activities. These include the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. As the author states, such initiatives are widely held to be inadequate in protecting individuals and communities against human rights abuses and providing access to effective remedy and restitution.

Weaving Resistance through Action: Strategies of Women Human Rights Defenders Confronting Extractive Industries (2017) Immaculada Barcia, AWID/WHRDIC

A partner document to the report described above, this is a practical guide (with accompanying video) presenting strategies for challenging the operations of extractive industries, which the guide defines as ‘all forms of industry that conduct extraction, exploitation and appropriation of nature and natural resources’ (p. 1). A set of short case studies – from Indonesia, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, and South Africa – illustrates these strategies in action.

Defenders of the Earth: Global Killings of Land and Environmental Defenders in 2016 (2017) Global Witness,

This report documents the growing number of people being killed – 200 across 24 countries in 2016 – in struggles to protect their land from mining, logging, and agribusiness interests. Some 40 per cent of those murdered in 2016 were from indigenous communities. The report cites lack of community consultation and consent as a root cause of conflict, with case studies from Nicaragua and Honduras (the murder of environmentalist and anti-hydropower dam activist Berta Cáceres) in support of this argument. It also highlights the involvement of companies and investors, international institutions, and the state in operations that generate conflict, with examples from the Philippines and Brazil. The final section of the report – illustrated by the case of the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the US – discusses the growing global trend of the criminalisation of activists, with companies (often with the support of government) using every available legal channel to deter opposition.