The Forests National Corporation's (FNC) commitment to promote women's involvement in the development of Sudan's forest resources has grown out of increased recognition of the important role women play in natural resource management as producers, users, and consumers of trees and forests. This consultation was designed to assist the FNC develop extension activities for women.1
1 Annex 1 contains the full Terms of Reference of the consultation.
The consultation continued and increased the scope of a review of women's participation in forestry extension activities that was conducted in late 1993.2 In a country as large and diverse as Sudan, there are significant regional and cultural variations in systems of agricultural production, land tenure, and exploitation of forest products. The initial 1993 study of women's participation examined extension activities of the Forestry Development in Sudan Project (FDS), whose efforts have been concentrated in the eastern and central regions. The present mission extended the review outside of FDS's zone of intervention to Darfur, Kordofan, River Nile, Northern, and Khartoum States in order to give a sense of the full range of women's involvement.
2 See Brigitte J van der Berg, "A Review of the Women's Programme", Project FDS, Consultancy report, December 1993.
There have been many forestry-related programs and actions in different regions of the country since the severe drought of the mid-1980's. This survey, conducted with an explicit gender-sensitive perspective, adds to the ongoing research that FNC policy makers and advisors are conducting as they prepare a strategic plan for the management of the national forest resources base.3 The following analysis focuses on the potential for greater participation by women in forestry development. Its objective is to facilitate the process of bringing together lessons learned from forestry projects implemented by both public and non-governmental agencies. These in turn can form the foundation of coherent methodology for the FNC to reach, inform and assist more women.
3 The term 'gender' is used in this document to refer to the social characteristics and roles that cultures assign to an individual on the basis of their biological sex. Gender issues arise because men and women do not have the same roles, needs, knowledge, and access to resources. How they are interpreted and handled will depend on the context.
The consultation in Women's Studies was divided into two segments. The first visit to Sudan took place from 3 December to 22 December 1994.4 The second segment occurred from 9 March to 25 March 1995. This report covers the results of three field visits (totaling 17 days and covering almost 4000 kilometers) to the states in Western and Northern Sudan; meetings with trainers and resource persons in the fields of community forestry, gender and natural resources, and transformation of forest products; and a review of relevant project documentation. Ms. Iman Ahmed Gad Elrabb, Forester in the Planning and Administration Division of the FNC, was designated as counterpart to the consultant and participated in the survey and all discussions.
4 "Interim Progress Report on Women's Participation in Forestry Activities in Darfur and Kordofan States, Sudan", Consultant's Report, Project FDS, 27 December 1994.