REDD+ initiatives are well underway in Nepal. The development of the REDD+ strategy, therefore, presents an opportune time to assess the degree to which its strategies and implementation have addressed gender issues and women’s representation in the processes. This assessment was undertaken by WOCAN and HIMAWANTI to examine Nepal’s Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP), the REDD+ Interim Strategy and REDD+ pilot projects. This assessment found that there is little emphasis on gender in the REDD+ processes, evidenced by the lack of studies on gender issues proposed in the REDD+ interim strategy and the minimal consultation with women’s groups. There is also a significant gap in the representation of women at all levels: less than ten percent of the members of the Apex Body and the REDD Working Group are women; only one women expert was consulted in the R-PP development process. The representation of women at the district level was also low, and did not meet the guidelines established for Community Forestry that mandates fifty percent representation of women in the executive committees. Thus the REDD+ initiatives have not only neglected and undermined the international agreements which acknowledge women’s rights over resources and for equal representation in governance structures, but also undermine the successes achieved within the country to address gender equality goals.
The assessment also highlighted that benefit sharing of REDD+ initiatives would not be beneficial to women if they are not equal participants in the decision making processes. The assessment also highlights opportunities to capitalize on existing strengths to address women’s exclusion in the REDD+ process in Nepal: these include the recognition and validation of women’s knowledge and perseverance to maintain forest resources; the implementation of affirmative action policies of Community Forestry, and the support of male champions. Incorporating these elements into the REDD+ initiatives are critical to Nepal’s achievement of its goals for REDD+.