Gender analysis in forestry research: looking back and moving ahead

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Despite the increasing recognition of the role that women play, gender biases still marginalise women and their participation in the forestry sector. This marginalisation of women in forestry …

Despite the increasing recognition of the role that women play, gender biases still marginalise women and their participation in the forestry sector. This marginalisation of women in forestry oftentimes leads to their under-representation in forestry research as well. In this presentation, ‘Gender analysis in forestry research: looking back and moving ahead in international research’, CIFOR scientists Yen Mai, Esther Mwangi and Meilinda Wan examine gender-focused forestry research, recommend ways to improve gender inclusion in research, and suggest areas for further research.

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  • Considerations to take into account to assist CIFOR to achieve it’s commitments and to set a clearer impact pathwayFamiliar


  • 1. Gender analysis in forestry research
    Looking back and moving ahead in international research
    Y.H MAI, E. MWANGI and M. WAN
  • 2. The purpose is to look for:
    • Factors that enhance or constrain gender-focused research
    • 3. Methodological underpinnings of such research
    • 4. Existing knowledge gaps
  • Gender blind in forestry sector?
    • Male dominance
    • 5. Misunderstanding or misuse of the term gender
    • 6. The limited awareness and skills of biophysical scientists when incorporating gender
  • Male dominance
    • Low or no representation of women professional and managerial levels in the forestry related ministries (FAO 2006) and in leasehold forestry groups (Gurung 2002)
    • 7. Assumption that men are the main natural resource users and managers and that work with them will improve the well-being of the whole society, including that of women (Watson 2005)
  • Misunderstanding or misuse of ‘gender’
    Relate gender studies to women studies
    Stopped short, only counting and including women
    At CIFOR, gender concept remains in a narrow sense and is equated either with a focus on women only or with the collection of sex-disaggregated data
    Perception of men and women as an homogenous group
  • 8. The awareness and skills of scientists when incorporating gender
    Biophysical researchers often lack the knowledge of social sciences (Fajber and Vernooy 2006)
    At CIFOR, gender incorporation depends on:
    • Project objectives
    • 9. Project topics
    • 10. The interest of scientists involved (mainly female)
    • 11. In some cases, the requirements from donors
  • Why does gender matter?
    Current discussions on potential impacts of global emerging issues are weak with respect to the gender dimensions => limitation to forestry institutions’ abilities to conduct research and advise on policy matters related to these global issues.
    It is crucial that this gap be addressed so that policies crafted to address impacts take full account of the differentiated rights, roles and responsibilities of women and men, promote gender equality and equity in practice.
  • 12. Past and current trend of gender studies
    • Early 1970s: More focus on women’s roles, status and their contribution to forest or forest-related sectors through recognising their knowledge and abilities.
    • 13. From the late 1990s, focus is more on gender compositions in forest user groups and gender impact on forestry.
  • Past and current trend of gender studies (cont.)
    Community forestry
    Land tenure
    Collective action
    Forest certification
    Women’s bargaining power
    Plants, wildlife
    Women’s knowledge
    Exclusion and marginalization for better engagement
    Gender composition in forest users group and gender impact on forestry
    Women’s contribution in NRM
    Women’s contribution in economy
  • 14. Past and current trend of gender studies (cont)
  • 15. In sum…
    Gender has been incorporated in forestry research for efficiency and equity.
    Integrating gender into forestry research is constrained by:
    • perception that forestry is a male-dominated profession and occupation
    • 16. lack of clarity among researchers of the concept of gender
    • 17. lack of technical skills to work on a socially complex term like gender.
    Research evolves from assessing and identifying women’s roles and contributions to a greater elaboration of women’s bargaining power and a conscious effort at engaging their marginalisation and exclusion.
    Community forestry and related processes of decentralisation have taken precedent.
    An overwhelming majority of the research has been conducted in Asia, but much less in Latin America.
    Methodologically, we find a dominance of participatory techniques.
  • 18. Recommendations
    ‘Participatory approach’ and ‘data collection with heads of households’?
    The need for the elaboration of gender relations
    Move further to disaggregate groups of men and women and not treat them as an homogeneous group
    Equip scientists with knowledge on gender inclusion to fill the gap of knowledge and assist scientists with tools and methods to integrate gender
  • 19. Further research
    Nature and quality of governance arrangements under increasing participation of women in forestry decision-making forums
    Dynamics and division of labour between men and women in mixed male/female forest user groups
    Transforming incentives and attitudes of forestry personnel
    Replication of ‘critical mass’ studies in other settings besides India and Nepal
    Implications of global processes, interventions and trends on women’s relative participation in decision making and benefits capture such as forest tenure reforms, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and large scale forest land acquisition for biofuels and food security.
  • 20. Thank you