Gender-responsive Sustainable Land Management

Gender equality is a key entry-point for SLM adoption, spread and upscaling. Therefore, WOCAT and UNCCD are working together to improve gender-responsiveness of SLM practices.

About the project

Direct and indirect gender-related barriers prevent women from adopting SLM practices. These barriers include land tenure insecurity; land availability; education or literacy levels; access to seeds, fertilizers, or extension services; and access to technologies and financing. As a result, women adopt SLM technologies at a rate that is typically lower and slower than that of men.

In line with the UNCCD Gender Action Plan (GAP) and guided by the idea to build back better, the aim of this UNCCD-WOCAT project is to:

  • add a gender lens to SLM Technologies and Approaches and assess their gender-responsiveness; and
  • evaluate how gender-responsiveness of SLM Technologies and Approaches can be improved, stepping up adoption and dissemination, making SLM beneficial for women and men alike.

This will support project planners, designers and implementers to identify, realize and scale gender-responsive SLM Technologies and Approaches within the framework of LD/SLM and LDN projects and programmes as well as promote the implementation of gender-responsive SLM practices in the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.

Development of gender-responsive SLM tool

WOCAT and UNCCD designed a tool to assess the gender-responsiveness of SLM Technologies and Approaches and to identify areas of improvement. This tool supports project planners, designers, and implementers in their effort to scale up SLM Technologies and Approaches for women and men equally.

The gender-responsive SLM tool was reviewed during a UNCCD-WOCAT consultation  workshop with experts from different organizations and regions, resulting in the fine-tuning of the tool. Currently, the tool is being tested with WOCAT network partners in more than 10 countries around the globe, supporting it further refinement and facilitating a first round of data collection.

SLM Technology Group Profiles

The data from testing the tool showed clearly, that equal access to SLM Technologies and Approaches is both context- and technology-specific. Therefore, we have developed five technology groups specific profiles to show the need for action.

Our overall key messages are as follows:

  • Women in developing regions affected by desertification, land degradation and drought produce 60–80 per cent of the food grown. Their role in sustainable land management is thus crucial.
  • Gender is important in SLM adoption and upscaling. Men and women differ in their adoption preferences and patterns.
  • Increasing awareness is required about women’s roles both in food production and land management.
  • Technologies are not gender-neutral: there is gender-response to policies, institutions and customs.
  • Gender-blind technology design and dissemination reduces the potential impact for adoption – and may even reinforce existing prejudices and inequalities.
  • Gender-related issues in SLM should always be assessed in context-specific, as well as general ways, and acted upon accordingly.
  • Women’s visibility needs to be raised and their voices heard more loudly to strengthen their access to productive resources, information and training.
  • Women’s capacity to exercise their legal rights to land and resources on equal terms with men is influenced by customary, religious or traditional laws and practices.
  • Legal awareness and access to land, its resources, and security of tenure for women are key to gender-equal upscaling of SLM practices.
  • Equal access to productive and financial resources must be addressed to increase women’s decision-making capacity, and consequently their uptake of SLM.
  • Access to information and extension services must be tailored to gender- and
    context-specific needs (e.g. literacy level, workload, timing of activities).
SLM Technology Group Profiles

Download all Group Profiles in one document, including the key messages. Below you can download each profile individually.

» Download
Soil and Vegetation

Nurturing the soil: keeping it fertile and maintaining green cover on the surface

» Download
Agroforestry and Homegardens

Mixed production systems in the farm and at home: looking after land and families

» Download
Water and Irrigation

Making optimal use of water: protecting and harnessing water resources

» Download
Feed and Fodder for Livestock

Improving animal nutrition: managing rangeland, pastures and crop-livestock systems

» Download
Natural and semi-natural forests

Trees: providing hotspots of biodiversity and carbon capture for people and nature

» Download

Our engagement continues

The tool and profiles have been prepared for official adoption at COP 15 in Abidjan in May 2022. But our work on the improvement of gender-responsiveness of SLM Technologies and Approaches continues.

The Global WOCAT SLM Database will be enhanced with a new “gender module”, i.e. the gender-responsive SLM tool will be integrated into the Database. This will allow:

  •  an online assessment of the gender-responsiveness of SLM Technologies and Approaches; and
  • the search for gender-responsive SLM Technologies and Approaches.

The gender module will be promoted and disseminated and interested partners and institutions trained in its application.




Nicole Harari

CDE Centre for Development and Environment
WOCAT Executive Team Member
nicole.harari( at )
Switzerland Switzerland

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Rima Mekdaschi Studer

CDE Centre for Development and Environment
SLM expert
rima.mekdaschi-studer( at )
Switzerland Switzerland

» View profile

Project duration