Gender and Forestry

The recognition of the important role women play in forest-related activities is increasing. Yet, more needs to be done to take into account the relationship between men and women’s roles in forests and forestry issues. For instance, in many developing countries women have been denied or given limited access to resources and opportunities, which has reduced productivity and contributed to the underperformance of the agriculture sector. With forests and forestry being an important part of the agriculture sector, FAO Forestry continues to mainstream gender equality and strengthen the role of women in forest-related projects and programmes.

Empowering women in the forestry sector can create significant development opportunities and generate important spill-over benefits for their households and communities, particularly in rural areas. Given their knowledge and roles in the forests and forestry sector, women need to be sufficiently represented in relevant institutions, accepted as stakeholders with specific views and interests, and empowered to have a say in transformative decisions. Efforts to empower women in the forestry sector include: advocating to enact good governance systems which provide secure tenure for women; research and knowledge building activities aimed at exploring and understanding gender-specific roles, needs and dynamics; collecting gender disaggregated data to monitor gender roles in the sector; application of gender analysis in projects and programmes; attention to gender in capacity building activities; and disseminating important data and facts related to gender in the forests and forestry sector.

At the corporate level, FAO has been promoting gender equality more systematically in its work through the endorsement of its first Policy on Gender Equality. The policy provides FAO with a framework to guide and assess its efforts to achieve gender equality in all areas of its technical work, with the whole Organization working to “achieve gender equality between women and men in sustainable agricultural production and rural development for the elimination of hunger and poverty”.

FAO also has five new Strategic Objectives representing the main areas of work on which FAO will concentrate its efforts on achieving its Vision and Global Goals. Gender, together with governance, are the two cross-cutting themes integral and instrumental to the achievement of the Strategic Objectives.

The following areas of work will be targeted to promote gender equality across the FAO Strategic Objectives:

  • identify gender issues relevant to achieving outcomes in the Strategic Objectives and provide targeted advice to close the gender gap, including by providing a gender-related baseline where relevant; ensure usage and improvement of available data sources, notably household surveys, for gender disaggregated statistics and gender sensitive analysis;
  • provide technical advice to the Organization to reach the minimum standards and targets of the Policy on Gender Equality within the committed timeline, with adequate accountability mechanisms in place;
  • define and apply a set of minimum standards by 2015 to ensure the inclusion of gender mainstreaming in all its work and for targeted interventions;
  • build on the existing network of gender focal points at headquarters and decentralized offices; and
  • increase focus on standard setting in regional, sub-regional and country level programs and projects.

Several FAO Forestry initiatives – i.e. FAO-Finland Forestry Programme, FAO’s National Forest Monitoring and Assessment Programme and the UN-wide programmes UNREDD and UNREDD+ – are under way to develop rigorous gender-specific indicators to support forest policies and programmes.  A background paper, Forests, food security and gender: linkages, disparities and priorities for action, was prepared for the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition, FAO, Rome, 13–15 May, 2013.  Three case studies are presented in the information sheets found below. The aim is to share successful approaches, challenges and impact captured in FAO Forestry work, while trying to pay attention to the different yet complementary roles of women and men in the sector.

FAO Forestry conducted a gender stocktaking exercise last year. Based on the results of the gender stock-taking report, FAO Forestry aims to improve gender mainstreaming in its projects and programs in the upcoming biennium (2014-2015). FAO Forestry will soon start a data and information collection initiative in the department, with the collaboration and support of the Gender, Equity and Rural Employment division. The purpose of this exercise will be to adequately capture gender-related activities in the department as well as related results and achievements. Later this year two divisional seminars will be held in Forestry to discuss how to enact the gender-related work under the Organization’s new Strategic Framework.


last updated:  Tuesday, June 17, 2014