The Natural Resources Ministry (MNRE) facilitated a one-day workshop and officially launched Guyana’s gender integration program in REDD Plus readiness on Friday at the Pegasus Hotel.Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman told the gathering that women are the nurturers and sustainers of life, and he expressed satisfaction that women are being reintegrated into the forestry sector.“This REDD Plus initiative of course ensures that the Indigenous and forest- dependent communities, (which) are traditionally involved in forest management and conservation, have a voice and can tell us what it is we should be doing,” the Minister underscored.The Minister admitted that a gender responsive and participatory approach to REDD Plus is seemingly the ‘most simple’ initiative that should have beenIDB Country Representative, Sophie Makonnenintroduced earlier. He nevertheless said he is happy that it has now begun.The Gender in REDD Plus readiness is a responsive and participatory approach through the REDD Plus cycle which seeks to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of forest activities.It was related that gender integration can increase ownership and maximise the ecological dividends of forest conservation.The new initiative will ensure that all women — and men too — benefit from the advances being made in REDD Plus and aspects of the Government’s green agenda.Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Country Representative Sophie Makonnen expressed her appreciation for women being part of the Forestry sector.“The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) has recognised that empowering both women and men will result in improved conservation of the forest resources. This workshop is an example of such an initiative to increase the capacity of women in decision-making in REDD in Guyana and REDD Plus in Guyana,” she noted. She explained that despite Guyana’s population having slightly more women than men, women are underrepresented in most, if not almost all, decision- making positions, such as Parliament and the local council level. “Historically, women participated less in village level government and decision- making institutions, and particularly those that address forest-related decisions. However, while there is still a long way to go to include women in decision-making, it is encouraging…” Makonnen added.She posited that women perceive the forest differently than men, and this is simply not acknowledged in most cases.Intervention in forest and natural resources management and conservation have often failed to recognise these gender differences as well, she pointed out; and this results in greater hardships for women and their households, among other challenges.“Empowering women in decision-making is essential if everyone is to benefit from this country’s beautiful resources,” Makonnen stated.