Forests are central to develop local livelihoods, stimulate entrepreneurship and grow regional economies, with equity being central to robust livelihood systems.

 

Women, youth, and indigenous peoples when given the opportunity and required capacities play a key role in socio-economic development in communities. 

How can you ensure marginalized peoples gain more inclusiveness in value chains and fair access to finance and markets?

Women Entrepreneurship

Gender Equity for Sustainable Livelihoods

Women are key to sustainable livelihoods. This is true everywhere, but it has particular resonance in forest communities, where the women hold vast knowledge and responsibility of forest conservation and livelihood development that goes unrecognized due to gender imbalances.

 

Their contribution is especially valuable for community forestry, which is an approach to enhance livelihoods through market-based community enterprises.

Current barriers to full inclusion

Legal Rights & Representation

Women have fewer legal rights, and they are underrepresented on management committees, in stakeholder consultations, and other opportunities to share their knowledge and participate in planning.

Financial Services

Women's access to financial services is severely constrained because they lack assets to serve as collaterals.

Restricted Voices

Women remain a minority among the academic experts, senior development staff, and policymakers who are responsible for designing and implementing forestry enterprise frameworks.

There is evidence that both the forest and the community benefit from more women decision makers.
The purpose of this theme is to redress the imbalance by championing women entrepreneurs. If we are to help enhance local livelihoods for the whole community, then we must do so in an inclusive and equitable way.

Positive case studies of women-powered community forestry

Agroforestry in Nepal

In the mountainous region of Sarlahi in northern Nepal, an agroforestry programme to promote beekeeping and fruit trees in the forests has helped increase forest cover and contribute to  livelihoods.

 

This benefits especially those most dependent on communal resources, namely women, ethnic minorities and Dalits.

 

And across the country, women’s participation in the executive  committees of community forest user groups has steadily increased over 30 years, helping to spur conservation and reduce poverty.

Pepper Farming in the Amazon

In northwestern Brazil, women of the forest and indigenous communities pick peppers for the Casas da Pimienta, a collective that harvests and markets specialized, forest-grown peppers for local and international markets.

The initiative has empowered local communities, and has cemented women's roles within them.

In Peru, pressure by the indigenous women's network ONAMIAP has succeeded in getting community-level statuses changed to require greater participation from women. 

Community forestry’s participatory approaches play an important role in addressing issues of weak governance, land ownership and gender equality at the local level.  
 
In 2018 and beyond, we can build off this international and local momentum by supporting rural and indigenous women leaders towards the advancement of their communities and the full realization of their rights.