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The forgotten half: women in forestry in Africa
Earlier this month, RRI Partner CIFOR held a conference with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the University of Ghana to discuss gender imbalances in the forestry industry in Africa. Research has shown that women are more involved than men in forest activities such as:
gathering firewood and water;
managing natural resources;
and trading minor forest products
Despite their involvement, challenges at governmental and legal levels impede women's full utilization of forest resources, and inhibit the sustainable use and management of forests in Africa. Policies are biased against women, in part because women are disproportionately represented in governing organizations.
Certain challenges women in Africa face include:
The limited availability of agricultural loans. In Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and Kenya, women receive less than 10 % of loans;
The marginal and isolated nature of lands available for women, in comparison to lands available for men; and
Biased tenure laws that prohibit women from owning or acquiring land without the consent of a husband.
These limitations for women have negative impacts on economic development, but also on sustainability and management of forests. The adoption of several strategies, however, can help bring greater rights to women while protecting important ecosystems in Africa.
More efforts are needed in:
Training women in forest and natural resource activities
Involving more women in forest industry policy development
Short and long term efforts to maximize income generation and poverty reduction
Providing women with knowledge of sustainable methods of forestry
A press release from the conference can be found here.
Posted By Alexandra O'Brien at 9:51am on November 28, 2007
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