WRM-33806 Gender and Natural Resources Management


Studiepunten 6.00

Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. E Shah
Lecturer(s)dr. E Shah
Examiner(s)dr. E Shah

Language of instruction:


Continuation courses:



Feminism perhaps is the most misunderstood term in our times. It is often related with turning women against men. It may not be uncommon to find men refusing to be called feminist because they fear acknowledging so will compromise their masculinity. And women on the other hand worry that being called a feminist may be interpreted as a man-hater. What is feminism exactly? Simply put, feminism is about the relationship between two genders and a movement to end gender-based and other forms of oppression and discrimination. It is as much about women as about men. 

Feminism is understood as the movement to end women's oppression and discrimination. In this simple definition of feminism are two most complex terms. "What is a woman?" and how source of oppression -- economic and cultural -- is a matter of justice. Simon de Beauvoir's iconic line "One is not born but rather becomes a woman" is routinely invoked in feminist studies to distinguish between sex as biological (with which one is born) and gender as social or cultural (with which one is made) category. This course will begin with (briefly) introducing key points in feminist studies that have questioned such sex/gender distinction and reframed the relationship between biology and culture. The second most important question feminist studies have been grappling with is: how should women's oppression or discrimination be ended/addressed? Is redistribution of economic resources the answer to end women's subordination? Or, cultural recognition of their distinct position in society will end discriminating practices? The course will introduce key ideas on how gender is performed on the intersection of economy and culture. Lastly, the course will briefly introduce key points in the third such pioneering debate in feminist studies -- is knowledge gendered? Do women scientists, professionals, or farmers' knowledge of nature is different from their male counterparts?

The course will address the following questions. 1) How and why oppression of women relate to domination and exploitation of nature? 2) How do this relationship manifest in use and management of natural resource? 3) How women's knowledge of their environment (climate, forests, land and water) is borne from their distinct place in society and daily experiences as women? 4) How failure to understand the activities that women engage with makes them invisible as users and managers of natural resources? 

In the first week of the course the key concepts in feminists studies are introduced and discussed. The second and third weeks involve applied discussions and a number of guest lectures, including tutorials involving group presentations. Intensive study and review of recommended literature continues throughout the course. A skills-training writing workshop in the last week helps students to learn how to choose researchable topic, how to develop research questions and methodology, and how to frame and present an academic essay.   

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- explain why feminist questions are relevant to environmental and natural resource management issues;
- understand what is feminism(s);
- understand how and why gender relations relate to domination and exploitation of nature;
- understand if women have distinct knowledge of their environment;
- understand how failure to see the activities that women engage with makes them invisible as users and managers of natural resources;
- learn to use concepts, methods and tools for analysing gendered implications of natural resource and environmental development interventions;
- learn how current approaches to natural resource development, especially water governance and management ignore or make implicit assumptions relating to contextual, complex social relations of inequality;
- use approaches and frameworks for gender sensitive natural resources management and environmental planning processes.


The course consists of:
- plenary sessions and (guest) lectures;
- literature study and review;
- group discussions and presentations;

- skills training writing workshop

- written assignments, including an essay.


Students are examined on the basis of the written summary of the recommended literature, written assignments (final essay), and group presentations (3).


A course reader is provided before the course.

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