Issue 21
Monday, 04 December 2017
Charles Darwin University
Central Australian Research Fellow Dr Jocelyn Davies
Central Australian Research Fellow Dr Jocelyn Davies

Call for gender equity in arid Australia

By Patrick Nelson

More needs to be done to lift the veil of “gender blindness” among Indigenous conservation management programs in arid Australia, a Central Australia research fellow says.

Dr Jocelyn Davies said that while these programs had strong outcomes, more could be achieved if women were involved more equitably.

“Evidence shows that in Australia, as well as overseas, there’s a belief that the prevalent male dominance in conservation and natural resource management is normal,” Dr Davies said.

“There’s a failure to recognise differences between men’s and women’s needs, interests, knowledges, behaviours and power.”

Dr Davies explored the issue in an article co-written with CDU PhD graduate Jane Walker, available online in the Journal of Arid Environments.

“We explored the issue of gender equity through the views of Warlpiri men and women who participated in Dr Walker’s PhD research on the effectiveness of management of the Northern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area,” Dr Davies said.

“Senior women were passionate about managing country, but they had inequitable access to external resources. Senior men clearly expressed that gender equity is important to their conservation partnerships because of the distinctive responsibilities that Warlpiri men and women have for management of natural resources, landscapes and places.”

Dr Davies said that while Indigenous women increasingly were being employed as community-based rangers, no overall framework or planning for gender equity was apparent in the programs and partnerships that support Indigenous conservation management in Australia.

“There are tremendous opportunities to improve program design and project planning to take account of the different knowledge, skills, interests and needs of Indigenous women and men for managing country. Greater gender equity will make outcomes even stronger,” she said.