Geospatial services can reach their full potential and benefit the people and the environment of the Amazon at multiple scales (regional, national, sub-national, community) by supporting communities in monitoring their territories and addressing the various challenges they face, such as deforestation, illegal mining, climate change, and biodiversity loss. In order to do so, it is important to have an inclusive vision that considers both the situation of local women and other actors in the region. These actions can improve local capacity in the use and exploitation of satellite data and geospatial information to facilitate, strengthen, and promote sustainable natural resource management throughout the Amazon.
Photo credit: SERFOR, Peru

Examining the gender dynamics in each region and context is important to ensure that development processes and projects using geospatial services are inclusive and successfully reach and benefit women and men from different backgrounds. In particular, it is important to examine gender roles and differences in access to and control of resources, participation in decision-making processes as well as other processes of social exclusion, for example those that may derive from ethnicity, age or class. Thus, SERVIR-Amazonia launched a study to synthesize the situation of women in the Amazon and the main challenges they face. A second objective of the study was to generate ideas and recommendations on how geospatial projects and services can address issues of gender inequality and how they can specifically benefit women. 

In order to achieve these objectives, the study analyzed the information obtained through three main methodologies: i) revision of the scientific and organizational literature; ii) interviews with key informants; iii) survey with different professionals working in organizations affiliated with SERVIR-Amazonia.

The study was possible thanks to the Women Global Development Prosperity Initiative coordinated by the SERVIR Global support team.

Vast territory, diverse population, similar challenges for women

The results of the study emphasize that the Amazon is a vast region with diverse populations. Thus, it cannot be assumed that the roles, challenges, and opportunities are the same for all women and men in the Amazon, either across different groups or within the same group. Similarly, the activities and livelihoods of Amazon people are also varied and complex, often presenting many challenges, especially for women from traditional and indigenous communities. Some of these challenges are related to the division of labor and gender roles, geographic isolation, limited access to electricity and internet, machismo, violence, limited access to health services and education, language barriers, loss of traditional knowledge, lack of participation and leadership on the part of women, insufficient representation of women in technical jobs and careers, and lack of land rights.

The opportunity of exploring the use of geospatial services to close the gender gap 

 The literature on gender and geospatial services is scarce and even more limited for the Amazon. Most of the information found, from both the literature and key informant interviews, related to gender within the area of ecosystem service management and far less on the other service areas of SERVIR-Amazonia (i.e. climate and climate change, fire/drought, and water resources). Likewise, the study found no instances of the use of geospatial services to explicitly close gender gaps (or benefit women) in the Amazon, although there are some examples from other regions that could serve as a guide. Moreover, there are not many organizations that have a direct and explicit gender focus in the use of geospatial services. Thus, the report notes that there is a great opportunity for SERVIR-Amazonia to be a leader in providing gender-sensitive geospatial services in the region.

 There was also no relevant information on the participation and experiences of  women professionals in GIS.

  Typical housing in the Amazon, Credit: Ana Acosta, EcoCiencia

Recommendations for the integration of a gender lens in geospatial services 

 In order to explore ways to improve the integration of a gender lens, the study presents some suggestions and recommendations for institutions or programs, such as SERVIR-Amazonia, which are in charge of providing geospatial information services to organizations and communities.

Inclusive Communication strategies
These recommendations include, among others, the adoption of inclusive communication strategies that use a combination of communication methods and media; the provision of services and information in local languages; and promoting the participation of women’s organizations and networks in services.
Including gender in the different phases of the project cycle
Based on the different phases of the project cycle, the report also provides a series of recommendations for organizations and development projects that will directly use the geospatial services offered by institutions such as SERVIR-Amazonia.

  • The report points out that for the design phase, it is important to perform a diagnostic analysis of the context that considers gender and marginalized groups as well as their access to, and control over, natural resources, common problems or challenges they face, and their needs and perceptions. Such information can help the project leaders understand and be aware of who will participate and who will be excluded, as well as to consider ways in which the project could be more inclusive. 
  • In the project implementation phase, there are also different strategies that can help promote women’s participation and benefit them directly. For example, finding times when women can participate; explicitly inviting women (as well as men); having spaces and projects exclusively for women; and facilitating spaces that invite men and women to talk and reflect on gender equality issues. 
  • The monitoring, evaluation and learning phase is also key in terms of being able to reflect in a recurrent manner on how the project is doing in terms of social and gender inclusion in program activities, for example, examining whether women are actively participating and whether implementers are using established gender strategies. Based on this, the program should make adjustments, test other strategies, and/or continue with strategies that work to maximize benefits to women and to close gender gaps.
Including a gender lens in the mapping process

The report also provides a series of recommendations to better integrate gender and to maximize women’s participation and the extent to which they can directly benefit from geospatial services, both from the maps produced and the information that emerges from those maps. Some of the ideas proposed include having a diverse group of mappers; mapping and providing information on land tenure (including women’s land rights); mapping other gender gaps (e.g. income, participation in decision making, participation in organizations and their leadership, access to services and information, representation in technical jobs and careers, etc.); and mapping the locations of services and resources important to women.

Recommendations on how to include a gender lens in the mapping process

Next steps

The results of the study are currently being discussed in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil where the main partners of SERVIR-Amazonia organize virtual round tables. It is expected to create working groups to explore and improve the inclusion of the gender issue in some geospatial services developed by the Program partners. Presentations of the study are also given at international events such as the AGU Fall Meeting 2020, one of the largest science conferences on planet Earth and space and the GIS (Geospatial Information Services) community. SERVIR-Amazonia will use the findings, conclusions and recommendations of this study to effectively guide its actions aiming at the inclusion of gender equality approaches in the development of geospatial services that are promoted with with partners. We will give particular emphasis to the articulation of gender inclusion issues and indigenous populations. On the other hand, we will promote a more active participation of professional women in GIS, via training, and mentorships.


Authors of the study


Jennifer Twyman

Jennifer Twyman

Principle investigator

Jennifer is an Agricultural Economist and Gender Specialist with a PhD in Food and Resource Economics from the University of Florida. Her research interests include measuring women’s empowerment and gender equality for agricultural, natural resource management and rural development projects; and intra-household decision-making power and ownerships of assets in smallholder farming systems.
Mariola Acosta

Mariola Acosta

Research assistant

Mariola is a PhD candidate at the Strategic Communication Chair Group of Wageningen University & Research and a visiting researcher at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. Her research interests include the study of social norms and structural barriers to women’s empowerment, with a particular focus on climate change adaptation, intra-household decision-making power and ownerships of assets in smallholder farming systems.
Marina Irigoyen

Marina Irigoyen

Coordinator of the study on behalf of SERVIR-Amazonia

Master in Sociology from the Pontificia Universidad Católica of Perú, with a diploma in Environmental Management. Gender Advisor for the SERVIR-Amazon Program

Photo credit of the featured image: PACR Chuyapi Urusayhua 2018 – ACCA