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a person's assigned gender, defined as the economic, social, political and cultural attributes and opportunities associated with being male and female (OECD, 1998). Other aspects of social identity such as caste, ethnicity, age and religion are just as influential with regard to an individual's status and development potential, and therefore need to be taken into account in much the same way as outlined below in the case of gender.

     As a result of the gender division of labor, women and men relate to different economic spheres. In addition, they do not have the same stake in natural resources, social institutions and decision-making processes in the household and society. Nor do women and men have the same power to act and make decisions. Women and men are therefore affected differently by development. The dichotomy between men's and women's spheres is, on the one hand, a social challenge, but on the other hand it is an opportunity to make resource management truly stakeholder-oriented. Hence, for the assessment it is necessary to differentiate between male and female spheres by integrating disaggregated data.

     In many instances and for a number of reasons women's access to natural resources is limited and their power to make decisions regarding natural resource management is socially restricted (Worldwatch Institute, 2003). Yet the majority of women in developing countries live and work in close association with natural resources (UNDP, 2005) and are particularly affected by ecosystem changes (MA, 2005a). Therefore, demands for a gender focus in natural resource management range from "experimentation with institutional forms that are more hospitable to women and marginalized groups" (Colfer, 2005), to demands calling for increased emphasis on the needs of women when addressing aspects of natural resource sustainability (Müller, 2006) and calls for a strategy for making women's as well as men's concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the policies and programs in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated (UN, 1997).

     Much has been written in recent years regarding the feminization of agriculture. As men have migrated to urban areas to seek better livelihoods, small-scale farming has been gradually feminized, with a larger percentage of women acting as head of household in rural areas, although their percentage in relation to all economically active women has been dropping since 1980 worldwide, in developing countries as well as in low-income food-deficit countries (FAO, 2001b; Figure 1-20). Feminization does not represent an equalization of opportunities, but rather a further marginalization of small-scale farms, since many female heads of household are younger and less educated than male heads of household, have less land, less capital and less access to credit. Fewer than 10% of women farmers in India, Nepal and Thailand own land and credit schemes in five African countries award women less than 10% of the credit awarded to male small-scale farmers (FAO-Gender, 2007) In most countries, the proportion of female-headed households is far less than 50% of the total.

     A lack of sex-disaggregated data means that women's roles in agriculture and their specific needs are still poorly understood. It is noteworthy that about one-fifth of farms are headed by women. It is clear, however, that rural women


are not a homogeneous group. Gender roles and the gender division of labor are highly specific to location, farming systems and peoples, but they are not fixed. Men and women constantly renegotiate their roles and relationships as circumstances change, both within the household and in the wider community. Their relative bargaining power can be influenced by many factors, their economic importance within the household, kinship relations, cultural norms of behavior, not to mention their individual character. Women as well as men have the capacity to exercise agency, that is, to make choices and decisions that can alter outcomes in their lives. In many countries, however, institutions of governance, legal systems and social policies have not equalized opportunities between men and women or created greater social equity between urban and rural dwellers, but have reinforced disparities instead.

     A growing body of evidence suggests that economic efficiency gains can be realized through more widespread enjoyment of rights and more just distribution of opportunity. Conversely, persistent inequality is increasingly seen to limit the rate and quality of economic growth, threaten national unity and fuel social conflict (WDR, 2007). The challenge facing policymakers and practitioners is to mediate the modernization of agriculture in such a way that it leads to improved social and economic outcomes for those working in the sector, while supporting the transition to more valueadding activities for others. Investing in people will be the key to achieving these goals.

1.4 Sustainability Indicators

1.4.1 Indicators for the IAASTD

Indicators are part of what we observe in the world around us as we attempt to detect patterns and extract information meaningful for directing action. Indicators are quantitative and qualitative variables that provide a simple and reliable means to track achievement, reflect changes connected to an intervention or trend, or help assess the performance of an organization, an economic sector, or a policy measure with respect to set targets and goals.

     In science, state variables of high precision and generality tend to be favored as indicators. In everyday life, there is a strong preference for trend indicators. An indicator, however, does not exist independently of the observer. Once an indicator is established, there still remain multiple issues of interpretation and meaning. Experts use indicators to inform policy and to increase their own scientific understanding (Table 1-4).

     On a methodological level, an assessment is not simply a review of relevant literature; it can be based, in part, on a literature review, but also needs to provide an assessment of the veracity and applicability of the information and the uncertainty of outcomes within the context of the identified questions or issues within a specified environment. To be effective and legitimate, an assessment process should be open, transparent, reviewed, and include a broad representation of stakeholders and relevant experts.

     Additional methodological elements include the selection of units of analysis, integrating biophysical and human systems as the context of agricultural practice, temporal and spatial scales of assessments from regional to global, issues