Indonesia — Women should be given greater role in forest management as research had showed that their involvement usually improves the condition and sustainability of the forests, a press statement said here on Tuesday.
The Center for International Forestry Research, which has its headquarters in Indonesia, said that women are the main users of forests in developing countries gathering food and firewood but they continue to be sidelined in how the forests are managed despite years of efforts to mainstream their involvement.
“It is worrying that despite women’s increasingly recognized contribution to forest management, they are not yet at the forefront of forestry decision-making,” said Esther Mwangi, a scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research, said ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8. She said that the United Nations has declared 2011 the International Year of Forests, which provides an excellent platform to revisit the challenges of promoting women’s involvement in forestry.
“As governments rearrange their policies and create new regulations ahead of the implementation of programs for REDD+, women’s involvement in decision-making in forest management and conservation should be a top priority,” she said.
REDD+ is a global mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as the conservation and sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
Climate change and deforestation have increased the workload of rural women, who are the primary users of forests and use them to source natural medicines as well as fuel-wood, food and water. ” The first challenge is to recognize women as agents of change. They cannot be seen only as users but as major decision-makers when it comes to conservation and sustainable use of forest,” said Lorena Aguilar, Global Senior Gender Advisor at the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
As the main users of forests, women need to be included in decision-making to ensure they get a fair share of the benefits.
“This means taking account of gender differences not only when planning projects but also when designing policy interventions that will affect forest communities,” she said.