Questions around who has access or who has the power to make decisions, are always relevant when studying natural resource management and environmental issues in the Anthropocene. Yet, these questions sometimes sit on the periphery of environmental research agendas. Some researchers are making it their job to put them at the forefront.
GRAID has been working to advance the understanding of gender and power in the context of development in social-ecological systems. Stockholm Resilience Centre’s (SRC) GRAID programme hosted a workshop on power relationships in social-ecological systems on 3 October 2017.
The workshop, “Putting power into gender, resilience and development,” included a number of expert participants from GRAID, working at SRC and the University of Kent, as well as visiting experts from the Centre of International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Indonesia, and the University of Helsinki.
Intersectionality as a way to understand power relationships
The workshop used the concept of intersectionality as an entry point for analyzing power. The concept of intersectionality, in this context, describes how people become positioned, socially and environmentally, in different contexts, as well as the material and social outcomes of these relationships, including shifting social power dynamics (Djoudi et al. 2016 – see below).
To introduce this mode of thinking, the workshop started with a presentation from workshop participant Houria Djoudi (CIFOR). Her work spans climate change, adaptation, intersections of social inequality, biodiversity, sustainable development, community ecology, and society and environment. She used a number of case studies from her work in different forest systems to explain how she uses intersectionality.
Workshop participants plan to keep pushing this thinking and work forward. Increasing understanding around questions of power and gender will not only help advance sustainability research, but also provide insights for transformative and inclusive development in the Anthropocene.
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Djoudi, H., B. Locatelli, C. Vaast, K. Asher, M. Brockhaus, and B. Basnett Sijapati. 2016. Beyond dichotomies: Gender and intersecting inequalities in climate change studies. Ambio 45:248-262.