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Gender analysis in forestry research: What policymakers should know

What is gender? Gender refers to the economic, political and cultural attributes associated with being a man or a woman.  These attributes vary between and within countries and can change over time. Gender roles are the socially defined tasks, responsibilities and behaviors that are considered appropriate for women and men in a particular community.  It is important to understand the complexity of gender roles as this results in identifying opportunities for improving forest management and for building greater equity. Overlooking gender differences can result in incorrect assessments of the tradeoffs and effects of policies on forest communities.


Gender influences forest management: Gender influences individual’s roles in managing forests, their access to forests, and how they use forest resources. For non-timber forest products (NTFPs) there is incredible variation within and between countries for the types of products, and stages in production where men and women are engaged.  For example, in southern Ethiopia, it is primarily women who tap and collect gum olibanum, while in northern and north western Ethiopia these activities are done by men. Unfortunately, there is a lack of data around women’s participation in many forestry activities as well as in large-scale forestry, which makes it difficult to obtain an accurate picture of their involvement. This may suggest that women’s roles in the forestry sector are invisible and informal, leading to poor working conditions and lower remuneration.


Women depend on forests for income and subsistence: According to the World Bank, women in forest communities derive half of their income from forests, while men derive only a third.  Research by the CIFOR’s Poverty Environment Network (PEN) found that income from forest activities makes up about one-fifth of total household income for rural households living in or near forests; men contribute more than women because their activities generate an income whereas women are more involved in subsistence activities. While both men’s and women’s forestry activities contribute to household livelihoods there is considerable gender differentiations in the collection of forest products.

For the complete article, please see ForestNews.