By recognizing women as agents of change, and valuing the diverse knowledge, experiences and capacities of women and men alike, AGENT works to strengthen environment programming through gender integration and, in tandem, leverage environment programming for women’s empowerment and gender equality outcomes. AGENT envisions a world that approaches environmental work, including across forest and biodiversity programs and projects at all levels, with gender-responsive policy, strategies and action.

AGENT is a ten-year partnership implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), together with GenDev and other USAID offices and initiatives. This partnership works through three interlinked strategies to:

  • Fill critical information gaps on gender and environment linkages;
  • Make the case for gender integration into environmental policy and action; and
  • Provide tailored technical support to forestry and biodiversity gender analyses, procurements, policymaking, projects, and more.

Tools and Approaches

Collaborating with host governments and cross-sector stakeholders, AGENT has developed several national climate change gender action plans (ccGAPs) with environmental and gender ministries. These ccGAPs support USAID missions in cross-sectoral environmental programming—particularly in biodiversity, agriculture, fisheries and forestry—while working with partners to ensure the ccGAP informs their collective work and enhances knowledge and training.

In Africa, Asia and Latin America, AGENT has developed knowledge products to highlight innovative gender-responsive REDD+ approaches, including effective national and local level policy and implementation processes. Under AGENT, Uganda, Ghana and Cameroon initiated National Gender and REDD+ Task Forces to ensure women's participation and a gender perspective in REDD+ policy and programming.

AGENT is working to expand the knowledge and tools available on gender and specific sectors, such as combating wildlife trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries, to enhance USAID's impact on the ground.


AGENT works to:

Develop new resources and tools

  • Produce guides and factsheets on biodiversity, conservation and gender to inform and guide best practice interventions
  • Support new investigations to build evidence on how sustainable forestry and biodiversity is supported by gender equality and how these sectors can advance women’s empowerment 

Support biodiversity practitioners and policymakers by curating resources, enhancing information sharing, and influencing international policies

  • Promote the availability of tools to increase awareness and information sharing by curating and cataloging gender tools and documentation on gender linkages with forestry and biodiversity for wider use across the environment community
  • Develop and implement outreach to promote awareness of gender tools on forestry and biodiversity

Provide technical support on gender-responsive biodiversity action

  • Technical support for gender analyses, Agency talking points, and procurement development on gender considerations across biodiversity, including environmental crime
  • Tailored support to USAID Offices, Missions, and implementers to integrate gender-responsive learning and action across biodiversity areas
  • Expanding AGENT-developed learning and know-how into the sustainable biodiversity and conservation activities of IUCN’s global network

Advancing Gender in the Environment (AGENT)


Gender and Biodiversity Linkages

Examples from around the world emphasize the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment as powerful levers for conservation, environmental protection, and improving social equity.

Studies and analyses increasingly demonstrate that gender balanced community resource management groups increase transparency and accountability, improve conflict resolution, strengthen conservation enforcement, and improve greater equity over natural resource use and management.

Worldwide, women hold 90% of post-harvest fisheries processing roles while in Asia and West Africa, women account for 60-80% of fish product marketing. Examples from around the world show that women are effective advocates for sustainable fisheries practices when they have access to financial tools, improved processing techniques and technologies, marketing and sales skills, and voices in fisheries organizations and leadership roles are supported. (Read more in Advancing Gender in the Environment: Gender in Fisheries - A Sea of Opportunities)

Experiences and data from around the world demonstrate that women not only have gender-differentiated roles in their use of forests, but also contribute to improved forest governance. In Malawi, gender-neutral forest landscape restoration decision-making groups were in fact gender-blind—dominated by men who advocated for tree species used in charcoal, furniture, and timber production. Meanwhile, IUCN-led efforts to work with women on restoration goals resulted in women advocating for tree species that bear fruit and medicinal bark. Studies also indicate that gender-balanced forest user groups in three countries conserved more trees. Yet, women’s full and effective participation in forest-related decision-making remains male dominated. Globally, 80% of forest landowners are male. As subsidies and productive resources tend to go along with land titles, women are typically locked out of similar benefit—a lost opportunity for improved forestry governance.

In addition, AGENT’s unique research shows that environmental crime and responsive programming can negatively impact gender-based violence (GBV)—threatening the safety, health, and well-being of women, girls, boys, and men. In all environment-related sectors, GBV is used to assert or maintain inequitable power and control over natural resources and can be exacerbated in the face of environmental stressors, such as those exerted by climate change, large-scale developments, and environmental crimes. GBV undermines the ability of people to conserve and protect the environment. (Read more in Gender-Based Violence and Environment Linkages: The Violence of Inequality)

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