Gender issues refer to the role and position of women, but also to other groups in society like children and elderly people. Such groups often face specific problems with respect to the production and use of woodfuels.
Gender issues are not new to wood energy development. For many years they have played a role in projects for community woodlots and household energy. For instance, a study on Women's Role in Forest Resource Management was published by RWEDP in 1989. Since then, quite a number of RWEDP member countries have adopted policies which address gender problems, some even specifically in the field of wood energy. However, as with other policies, implementation is not always easy. Much still needs to be done to translate policy statements into effective action. Gender considerations have still not been institutionalised in the overall planning and general policy making for wood energy.
RWEDP has taken up this challenge together with its members. At the Expert Consultation on "Gender and Wood Energy in Asia" in Chiang Mai, June 1995, policy makers of member countries reviewed relevant gender analysis tools. It was probably the first time high-level policy makers from both the forestry and the energy sectors have jointly discussed gender issues. They also discussed how to institutionalise a gender approach in their respective organisations. The consultations went beyond simply raising awareness, as they focused on how gender issues can be operationalised with respect to wood energy development. The delegates adopted a highly professional approach which aimed at increasing the effectiveness of interventions and policies in wood energy development. As such, they went a few steps further than re-iterating popular statements on gender gaps.
The meeting provided a conceptual framework to assist in the process of integrating gender issues into wood energy policies. It also addressed the task of training staff from the forestry and wood energy sectors. Special training workshops will be organised by RWEDP in 1995 and 1996, and training modules will be developed, as advised by the Regional Advisory Committee meeting in February 1995, for integration into further RWEDP training activities.
Our main concern remains to effectively assist in alleviating the problems of those who are most in need of our support.
Dr. Willem S. Hulscher
Chief Technical Adviser