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How to consider gender in national forest programmes3

Phase 1: Organization of the process
Phase 2: Strategic planning
Phase 3: Implementation
Phase 4: Revision and updating

3 The phases suggested correspond to the ones described de distintas in the reference document "Basic Principles and Operational Guidelines. Formulation, Implementation and Revision of the National Forest Programmes" (FAO, 1996).

This section provides a broad overview of the different stages of planning, implementation and review of national forest programmes. For each phase, it offers guidelines for ways of integrating gender considerations in all activities. It also recommends tools which will facilitate the gathering of social, technical, economic and environmental information to be used in planning and in each phase of the process. Tables giving an overview of what can be done and how it can be done are included for each phase.

This technical note should be used together with the publication 'Enhancing People's Participation in National Forest Programmes' (11). It provides valuable guidelines for facilitating participation and stimulating the participatory collection and analysis of information.

The process followed by national forest programmes can be broken down into four main phases:

Phase 1: Organization of the Process
Phase 2: Strategic Planning
Phase 3: Implementation
Phase 4: Revision and Updating

Phase 1: Organization of the process

This logistical phase comprises three steps:

1) Identification of Partners

"Women play a vital role in many aspects of forestry activities. Collectively they are one of the main actors on the forestry scene. Their participation in the process should thus be fully recognised and facilitated" (drawn from National Forest Programmes. Basic Principles and Operational Guidelines, FAO, 1996, page 30, point on identification of partners).

It might be noted that the low participation of women as partners in the planning process is often due to the ignorance of planners concerning the gender issue. It is absolutely necessary that in the identification of partners consideration be given to bringing together networks and organisations that have an understanding of gender issues. The course of action could be the following:

• identification of competent partners, i.e. networks and organisations whose functions, responsibilities and activities are oriented toward taking into account gender-related considerations;

• making contact at the local level with women's groups and organisations, as well as with NGOs and/or organisations representing women's interests, and

• making contact at the institutional level with national structures, both public and private, responsible for issues related to the integration of women (ministries, special offices, etc.).

Another important aspect to bear in mind in identifying partners is the establishment of technical, social and economic criteria, which must make explicit reference to the need to be representative of society, which is made up of men and women.

2) Organization of National Coordination Mechanisms

In order that due consideration is given to gender issues, two aspects are fundamental: i) the composition of the authorities; ii) their mandates.

i) Representatives sensitive to gender issues must work together with the coordination authorities. These could be individuals, groups (NGOs, associations) or institutions (women's or other ministries). In this context, the way in which partners have been identified (giving full priority to the importance of partners who are competent in the integration of women) is crucial, given that society still relegates women to a marginal position in terms of representation, participation and decision-making.

ii) It is also necessary to pay major attention (in the case of the National Coordination Unit) to the mandate given to the structures responsible for coordination, management and monitoring of the planning process. This mandate must explicitly refer to recognition of gender issues. Further, the national coordinator chosen must be sensitive to male and female roles and, if possible, have received training in this sector.

These examples illustrate the type of recommendations to include in the mandates of such organisms. The operational guidelines for national forest programmes describe how the role of the National Forest Consultative Group is, above all, to "promote consensus on critical issues related to forest development and conservation". One might add that this group should be vigilant to the point that the opinions of women, and not only of men, be included in the search for this consensus. Another task of the group is to "periodically review the progress of related policy and institutional reforms". One could finish the phrase, saying that policy analysis must foresee the study of the impact of current and reformed policies on men and on women.

3) Development of a Communication Strategy

The communication strategy to choose is dependent on different interest groups, their motivations, their capacity of access to information and the means of communication used.

From the very outset, the content must reflect information related to gender issues, and means of communication must be used that reach women as well as men (for example, taking into account radio listening times, day and hour of meetings, use of images rather than words).

Gender Considerations in the Organization of the Process



Identification of partners

• identify organisations and networks that are competent in gender issues; contact women's groups and/or associations that represent women's interests; at the institutional level, contact national structures responsible for the integration of women.

• establish selection criteria (technical, social and economic) that integrate the concept of gender.

Organisation of national coordination mechanisms

• composition and mandate of coordination mechanisms/hat respect the need to take into account gender issues.

Design of a communication strategy

• content reflecting gender issues

• means of communication designed for the target audience.

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