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HUGO, CIOMS, the Bonn Guidelines and the DOH all appeal to the concepts
of free prior informed consent, fairness and mutuality.
It is in the process of obtaining the FPIC of research participants that the oppor-
tunity for negotiating and deciding on benefit sharing mostly exists. HUGO rec-
ommends prior discussion with groups or communities on the issue of benefit
sharing, but, like the other guidelines, is silent on women's participation. CIOMS
addresses the process of obtaining free and prior informed consent, especially in
cultures where decisions by elders or leaders tend to prevail over individual deci-
sion-making. We believe this has clear relevance to women in some societies, but
again this is not brought out in the guidelines, except in gender-neutral terms
(CIOMS 2002 : guideline 4, commentary). 12
6.4.2 Benefit Sharing
All the guidelines contain provisions stipulating that research subjects or study
populations (DOH, CIOMS) or those who are the sources of biological materi-
als and knowledge (CBD for non-human materials only, HUGO) should benefit
in some meaningful way from the research study or its outcome (see Chap. 3 ) .
However, ensuring that women in the community or population get a fair share of
the benefits is not explicitly mentioned (see Alvarez-Castillo and Feinholz 2006 ).
6.4.3 Participation and Representation in Decision-Making
During the long development of the CBD, there was much emphasis on the role
women play globally in biodiversity management and protection, and how their
priorities support those of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and
Natural Resources (see, for example, IUCN 1988 : recommendation 17.13). This
perhaps explains why the CBD is the only relevant set of guidelines that explicitly
mentions women's participation. In the Preamble , it states:
Recognizing also the vital role that women play in the conservation and sustainable use of
biological diversity and affirming the need for the full participation of women at all levels
12 For example, in a study regarding gender, consent and research participation in Pakistan, 44%
of respondents believed it was important or essential for the researcher to involve the family
members or elders of an adult potential study participant in the process of obtaining informed
consent. If the research participant was a woman, 60% of the respondents felt it was essential that
the father's or, in the case of a married woman, husband's permission be sought before approach-
ing the woman. Where there was a difference of opinion between the study participant and the
father or spouse, 74% felt that the opinion of a male participant should prevail, but if the study
participant was a woman, then only 53% of respondents felt that her opinion should be honoured.
There was no significant difference in the opinions expressed between male and female respond-
ents (Jafarey 2006 ).
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