Wetland Resources Action Planning (WRAP) Toolkit

An integrated action planning toolkit to conserve aquatic resources and biodiversity by promoting sustainable use

2.1 Wetland Assessment

Gender and Age Inclusivity


Why do we need to include gender and age?

In the past, approaches to development were criticised for being male-dominated and gender blind. These critiques began in the 1970s but it was not until the 1990s that gender issues were more regularly recognised as relevant to development. Now in the 21st century gender tends to be integrated into most development thinking. In contrast, issues relating to age and generation continue to be marginalised in development. Children and young people participate in important ways to the sustainability of both their household and community, yet their contributions are often overlooked. Failure to incorporate children and young people’s perspectives regarding development can lead to negative consequences for their lives.

Furthermore, it is necessary to understand patterns of intergenerational change in order to assess the potential impacts of development processes across the life course. For example, partly as a result of the Millennium Development Goals, globally there has been a growing emphasis on the education of young people. However, their increased educated status is not necessarily resulting in better paid urban employment which remains competitive with low wages and long hours. Thus changing livelihood transitions of youth add to the burden of the older generations, particularly older women, in rural areas who are losing the traditional labour contributions of young people whilst not being compensated with remittances from well paid urban jobs (Punch and Sugden 2013). A consideration of generational issues reveals the importance of exploring age relations across the life course as well as relationally between the generations (Hopkins and Pain 2007).

In order to promote reconciliation between conservation, sustainable livelihoods and development policy, it is crucial to understand not only how different communities and even wealth groups within communities utilise aquatic resources, but also the divisions within households on the basis of both gender and age. Intra-household divisions of labour are well understood regarding divergent gender roles, but are only recently beginning to take account of children’s contributions. The distribution of resources and decision-making power within households is also based on gender and age. Despite some change in recent years intra-household labour divisions and resource allocation tend to be unequal which is why it is important to develop an understanding of the gendered and generational dynamics of households and communities. Given that gender has been more mainstreamed into development processes than age, the following points summarise the key reasons why it is crucial to include the perspectives of children and young people:

  • Children are an important social group in their own right who should be considered alongside adults in research and development projects.

  • Children are not merely passive recipients of adults’ actions but social actors who actively contribute to the wellbeing of their households and communities.

  • The diversity of childhoods needs to be recognised as children’s lives vary according to age, birth order, gender, ethnicity, disability and class.


In order to mainstream gender and age within HighARCS two training workshops were conducted with each of the host research teams. The first workshop explored the concepts and theories of Participation, Age, Gender and Livelihoods, which enabled Gender and Age Framework Analysis to be designed and incorporated into the local teams’ research strategies. The second training workshop, Action Planning and Research, focused on methodological issues, in particular those relating to the collection and analysis of qualitative data.

Qualitative research methods tend to be more suitable for developing an understanding of issues that are sensitive to gender and age inclusivity. In order to understand the gendering and generationing of intra-household dynamics, we recommend conducting separate focus groups with women, men, girls and boys. This is to enable the views of different social groups to be heard whilst also exploring gender and age specific issues. As well as conducting a series of focus groups with women, men, girls and boys, the HighARCS teams spent extended periods of time in the communities to build rapport with local people and gain an insight into their lives (using the ethnographic methods of participant observation: writing field notes and a reflective field diary).

Given that many research teams conducting projects and developing action plans on wetland resources are likely to consist mainly of natural and physical scientists with expertise in quantitative methods, it is worth considering employing a qualitative researcher from a social science background who can spend time at all the field sites, travelling to work with all the research teams involved. HighARCS employed a postdoctoral research fellow for the main two year phase of data generation so that he could guide the qualitative data collection and analysis as well as ensure that gender and age were fully integrated throughout the process (Punch and Sugden 2014).

Thus, it is important to recognise that access to livelihood resources and aquatic ecosystems is mediated by structural power relations of class, gender and age which impact differentially on the wellbeing of men, women, girls and boys. In the past, development tended to be perceived from the perspective of adult men, but now the views and experiences of women, children and young people must also be taken into account.

Hopkins, P.E. and Pain, R., 2007. Geographies of age: thinking relationally. Area 39 (3), 287–294

Punch, S. and Sugden, F., 2013. Work, Education and Out-migration among Children and Youth in upland Asia: Changing patterns of labour and ecological knowledge in an era of globalisation. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 18 (3):255-270.

Sugden, F. and Punch, S., 2014. The Challenges and Benefits of Employing a Mobile Research Fellow to Facilitate Team Working on a Large, Interdisciplinary, Multi-sited Project,’ Research in Comparative and International Education.


Focus Group Schedule for Men and Women (pdf)
Focus Group Schedule for Boys and Girls (pdf)
A specific objective of the focus groups was also to understand the gender and age dynamics of aquatic resource use. For the focus group with women and men, open ended questions dealt with topics such as livelihood change, the use of rivers and lakes, rules and access regimes for natural resources, market relations, understandings of wellbeing, and ecological knowledge. Gender specific questions related to the intra-household division of labour, distribution of household resources and the changing status of women. Participatory techniques were also used, including community resource mapping, production of historical and annual timelines, and ranking activities, whereby respondents were asked to rank livelihood activities and problems in order of importance, often using cards. The mapping tools was also repeated for the focus groups with young people, along with the compilation of a daily time chart of activities and ranking activities focussing on different types of work. Questions were also asked relating to how young people use aquatic resources, their relations with siblings, the benefits they get from their contribution to family labour, education and leisure.
Gender and Age Framework Analysis (pdf) This framework aims to identify and address the gender and age issues that exist at the field sites by exploring what the problems are and how best to deal with them when carrying out field research.
Training Workshop 1: Introduction (pdf) A brief introduction to the aims of Training Workshop 1: Participation, Age, Gender and Livelihoods
Training Workshop 1: Participation (pdf) This session examines the concepts and theories of participation. It explores the challenges of participation in practice, particularly in relation to environmental management.
Training Workshop 1: Gender (pdf) This presentation includes feminist development theories, gender planning, gender mainstreaming, intra-household inequalities and household divisions of labour.
Training Workshop 1: Young People and Age (pdf) Theories of childhood are outlined before discussing the advantages and disadvantages of children’s work versus education.
Training Workshop 1: Implications for the Research Process (pdf) An introduction to qualitative and participatory research involving women, children and young people, with a particular look at the practicalities of conducting focus groups. The session ends by consider issues of gender and age in context.
Training Workshop 1: Livelihoods (pdf) This session outlines the Sustainable Livelihood Framework and sums up the importance of gender and age inclusivity for a participatory research project on household livelihoods.
Training Workshop 2: Sampling Methods (pdf) An overview of different sampling methods along with a discussion of wealth ranking.
Training Workshop 2: Interview Design (pdf) An introduction to the advantages and disadvantages of conducting individual interviews.
Training Workshop 2: Focus Group (pdf) This presentation considers the challenges and benefits involved in focus group discussions.
Training Workshop 2: Participatory Tools (pdf) The benefits and limitations of several participatory tools are examined.
Training Workshop 2: Qualitative Data Analysis (pdf) This session works through practical examples of qualitative data analysis. It also discusses data management and the writing up process.

Type of Outputs

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1.0 Integrated Approach

How to integrate action planning research and implementation across disciplines to avoid duplication and contradictory results and practices

Lessons Learned







2.1 Wetland Assessment

How to assess the biodiversity, livelihood, and ecosystem services values and identify policy and conflicts at a wetland site

diversity assessment

system services valuation



elihood assessment

icy assessment


2.2 Development of Integrated Action Plans

How to work with stakeholders to identify and implement actions needed at a wetland site


nt strategic planning

anization of activities


2.3 Implementation, Monitoring & Evaluation

How to develop monitoring and evaluation of the processes and action plans put in place

Impacts and Outcomes
To be developed

Wetland Assessment
Development of Action Plans
Implementation, Monitoring & Evaluation