When women make decisions, the environment benefits

When women make decisions, the environment benefits

When women are actively involved in decisions of environmental land management, groups are more likely to opt for conversation.

A recent study sheds light on the role gender quotas can play in environmental decision making.

It indicated in groups where 50% of members were women, more trees and land were conserved, particularly when there was a financial incentive to do so.

The new University of Colorado Boulder study, involved 440 forest users from Indonesia, Tanzania and Peru, and tasked them with an environmental conservation simulation game. They were asked to make decisions about how many trees they would harvest from a shared forest.

Groups with a gender quota and a financial incentive not only had a higher rate of tree conservation than groups with no gender quota, they also distributed incentive payments more equally among group members.

Interestingly, it didn’t matter if the leader of the group was male or female. If the majority of group members were female, more trees were conserved.

The researchers have indicated these results can have real world consequences and that environmental policy makers should think about the implementing gender quotas to increase the numbers of women in decision-making groups.

“When policymakers think about what to do to increase conservation around the world, gender quotas don’t even come up as a viable policy instrument,” said senior author Krister Andersson, a professor and researcher at the Institute of Behavioral Science.

“This study suggests they should.”

“It appears that it is not the gender quota by itself that is making a difference, but rather the combination with the conservation incentive,” said Andersson.

“Maybe women have stronger environmental preferences but having a seat at the table and a payment for foregoing the immediate benefits of cutting down trees empowers them to act.”

The study suggests interventions to conserve the environment and reduce green house gas emissions should strive to promote gender balance through quotas, so that women can participate in and benefit from interventions.

“The big takeaway here is that when it comes to environmental conservation, the presence of women matters.”

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