Incorporating women's knowledge of conservation in sustainable development databases
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends that the knowledge and experience on the part of women of the management and conservation of natural resources should be incorporated in databases and information systems for sustainable development.
Sustainable development and biodiversity initiatives increasingly include ethnoscience, yet the gendered nature of rural people's knowledge goes largely unrecognized. The current resurgence of ethnoscience research states the case for including gendered knowledge and skills. There is also the ethical imperative to serve women's interests as the 'daily managers of the living environment'. In the interests of both objectives, an ethnoscience research approach based on empowerment of rural people is preferable to simple extraction of their knowledge. This has very effectively been done by enabling Kenyan women to recount their survival skills during the drought and famine of 1985. The information was given as a story, in keeping with an explicit choice to learn through participation and to report through storytelling. The experience of rural women and researchers during the drought provides several lessons for both groups about their respective knowledge systems, their agroforestry work and the relationship of both to local and national political economy.
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