37 Feminism, Forests and Food security

And women's important role in the development of sustainable management of the forest landscape, as well as the importance of forests for food supply globally.


  • Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation
  • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
  • Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative
  • Vi Agroforestry We effect
  • CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees, and Agroforestry (FTA)
  • Stora Enso
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Swedish Federation of Forest Owners


Globally, it is estimated that 1.6 billion people in varying degrees depend on forests for their livelihoods. Forests are safety nets for poor and rural communities where people can collect firewood and food, and it is often women who perform these forest-related chores. Gender, in this context, can be used as a cross-cutting issue to address the importance of forests for food security.
In Sweden, 38 % of the private forest is owned by women, while globally they are underrepresented in governing positions and ownership. Can Sweden's work for sustainable management of the forest landscape, together with the objectives of equality and women's empowerment, support sustainable development in the world?

In this CFS side session we highlight the sometimes ignored role of women in forest resource management. Gender roles play an important part in regulating access to resources, or shaping notions of who does what in the forest. Many times, products that are important to women are used in the household and do not generate substantial incomes, and are therefore underestimated in official statistics. We focus on the role of women, to highlight the importance of forests for food security in the poorest and most vulnerable areas of the world.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Peter Holmgren Director General, Center for International Forestry Research
  • Camilla Widmark  Deputy Head of Department of Forest Economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Cecilia Nordin van Gansberghe Former Swedish ambassador to FAO, Senior Advisor at the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation
  • Lennart Ackzell Senior Advisor International Affairs, Federation of Swedish Family Forest Owners
  • Kerstin Johnsson Cissé Head of Global Economy and Environment, Swedish International  Development Agency
  • Linda Andersson Policy officer, Agroforestry and Sustainable Agriculture, Vi Agroforestry
  • Marlene Elias Gender Specialist, Conservation and Management of Forest Genetic Resources, Bioversity International


We want to highlight women's important - but rarely obvious - role in the development of sustainable use of the forest landscape, as well as pointing to the importance of forests for food supply globally.

Women in forestry:

  • have less access than men to land, forests, and other resources
  • are underrepresented and lack influence in decision-making and leadership positions in forest governance institutions
  • lack access to extension, technologies, and information related to forests and agroforestry
  • are excluded from the most remunerative tree product value chains or segments of those VCs
  • lack access to decent work in tree crop and other VCs;
  • carry high, unpaid domestic workloads and care responsibilities
  • are underrepresented and underserved in CC mitigation and adaptation programs and initiatives

Key outcomes/take away messages

  • Transformative change requires an approach integrated across sectors to protect and fulfill women’s rights, and enable them to contribute to FSN and other sustainable development challenges.
  • Deep and lasting change will require supporting women’s organizations that reflect women’s interests, priorities, and realities, and give them a collective voice.
  • We can play a role in generating quality data disaggregated by gender, age and other social factors to fill important knowledge gaps that hinder planning, implementation and monitoring of policies and practice. Here we need mixed research methods that can help us see quantitative trends, but also give us a deeper qualitative understanding of women’s and men’s lived experiences.
  • It is time to move beyond short term and technical solutions to address the structures that reproduce inequalities. This includes challenging discriminatory norms that perpetuate gender inequality, unsustainable forest management, and food and nutrition insecurity. A number of innovative approaches exist in this respect, including participatory action research methods.
  • Involve men at all levels and make them “agents of change”. We must engage men and boys in all these processes; as feminism, forests and food security are not the challenge of women alone, but of all of humanity.
  • Make visible the links between gender and food security, incl. for forestry and possible trade-offs. Make a systematic gender analysis of the work done by women to enable improvements not only for women but also for sustainable environment management.
  • Collect and use sex-disaggregated data.
  • Advocate for the full inclusion of women in decision making processes at all levels.
  • Leverage and spread information about financing for women doing entrepreneurial work. Women entrepreneurs and women’s organisations face formal and informal constraints that limit their access to financing and capital.
  • Advocate for the development of gender action plans in all relevant partner organisations and ensure that gender action plans are used in dialogue with different stake-holders (incl. donors). Review international organisations’ gender policies and ensure that these are effectively implemented.
  • Use targeted approaches that address women and girls’ specific interests, vulnerabilities and needs.
  • Involve women in the transfer of environmentally sound technologies.
Side Event - 37 - Feminism, Forests and Food security