The Impact of Gender-Blindness on Social-Ecological Resilience: The Case of a Communal Pasture in the Highlands of Ethiopia


"We studied how the failure to take into account gendered roles in the management of a communal pasture can affect the resilience of this social-ecological system. Data were collected using qualitative methods, including focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, and participant observations from one community in the highlands of Ethiopia. The results show that women are excluded from the informal institution that defines the access and use rules which guide the management of the communal pasture. Consequently, women’s knowledge, preferences, and needs are not taken into account. This negatively affects the resilience of the communal pasture in two ways. Firstly, the exclusion of women’s knowledge leads to future adaptation options being overlooked. Secondly, as a result of the failure to address women’s needs, they start to question the legitimacy of the informal institution. The case study thus shows how excluding women, i.e., side-lining their knowledge and needs, weakens social learning and the adaptiveness of the management rules. Being blind to gender-related issues may thus undermine the resilience of a social-ecological system."



livestock, management, natural resources, resource management, social structure