Are women reservoirs of traditional plant knowledge? Gender, ethnobotany and globalization in northeast Brazil
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This paper analyzes the possible role gender plays in medicinal plant knowledge in tropical landscapes. The case study was conducted in Chapada Diamantina National Park in eastern Bahia state, northeast Brazil. Using a quantitative analysis of a sample plant pharmacopoeia, the study examines the relationship between gender, age and the socioeconomic impacts of globalization in this tropical region. Findings reveal that women - particularly older women (30-80 years) - are more knowledgeable than men in identifying and applying local medical plants due to the gender division of space and labor. Men are often engaged in hunting, fishing, livestock herding and timber extraction. Women are involved in managing local resources, including home gardens. The paper suggests that the gendered ethnobotanical division is threefold. 1- Men and women operate in quite different spaces. 2 - Landscapes, such as trails, swiddens, home gardens. and recent forest fallows, represent optimal medicinal plant foraging habitats. 3- Women in Brazil, especially older women, represent the primary healthcare providers for the family and the community. Younger women are no longer acquiring this knowledge.