Programme FAO-UE FLEGT

Gender mainstreaming manual presented to key stakeholders in Uganda


Kampala, Uganda

Women’s participation in the forest sector is recognized as an important pathway out of poverty and is a powerful tool to improve livelihoods, protect biodiversity, and promote sustainable forest management. Recognizing this, the FAO-EU Forest, Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme partnered with a local civil society organisation, Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN), to produce a gender mainstreaming manual to enhance women’s participation in forest governance and ensure equitable access to forest resources and their associated benefits. In a recent workshop, the manual, which has been in development since December 2020, was presented to key stakeholders, including representatives from the European Union, UKAID, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) and the National Forest Authority of Uganda.

Importance of gender mainstreaming

Gender responsive forest governance involves a deliberate focus on the gendered differences in the perceptions and usage of forest resources, relationship with and knowledge about forests, increased tenure security over forest resources, and enshrines the critical role of women’s participation in decision-making, resource management, and benefit sharing. 

In his opening remarks, Antonio Querido, FAO Representative in Uganda, highlighted the importance of gender mainstreaming, stating that, “It is crucial that gender is mainstreamed to ensure that the concerns of women are highlighted in all forestry policy”.

According to Uganda’s National Forest Plan 2012, there is an intrinsic relationship between women and forest resources, and it is important to note that women and men relate to forest resources differently. Where men often focus on extractive processes for financial gain, women rely on forest resources for survival needs, such as forest foods.

“Women and children are most likely to feel the effects of forest degradation and climate change. This gender mainstreaming manual will be important to mitigate these effects”, reflected Ms Irene Kambedha, Senior Forestry Officer and Gender Focal Point Officer, Forest Sector Support Department (FSSD) at the Ministry of Water and Environment, during the workshop. 

Challenges faced by Uganda’s forest sector

In developing the Gender Mainstreaming Manual, SWAGEN adopted a participatory research approach, which included extensive consultations with the district forest services, private-owned forests, and forest communities, particularly in the central forest reserves of the Karamoja sub-district. Consultations aimed to understand the current levels of gender mainstreaming across the forest sector, identify existing gaps and policy interventions for gender mainstreaming, and examine strategies for promoting women’s participation in forest governance.

In presenting the final draft of the manual, Dr Amon Mwiine highlighted the challenges faced within the forest sector when mainstreaming gender. The consultations and research found that local rules and regulations often focused on securing and protecting the forest against unsustainable use, however no particular attention is given to promoting women’s participation in ownership and conservation of forest resources. As a result, governance structures are often male dominated, with women participating in low earning activities, such as establishment of nurseries,  weeding and other agroforestry practices.

After outlining the gaps and opportunities towards a gender-responsive forest sector, the manual guides users in conducting gender analyses and gender budgeting in the forest sector and offers strategies for gender mainstreaming. These strategies include creating gender responsive human resource structures, ensuring participation in collaborative forest management, and capitalising on indigenous and traditional knowledge around forest resources. 

The manual concludes with guidance on conducting a gender audit to monitor and report on gender mainstreaming. Each of these sections includes guiding questions, illustrations, and examples that help users understand the key issues and concepts in creating a gender-responsive forest sector. 

Moving from theory to practice

Feedback from the workshop will be used to finalize the manual before it is released for use by policymakers, technical staff in Ministries, Departments and Agencies, District Forest Service officials, support staff, environmental activists within the civil society and community environmental practitioners who will be the key change agents in the process of ensuring a gender-responsive forestry sector.

The Plantations Department of the National Forestry Authority (NFA) of Uganda, one of the main government recipients of the manual, has already begun to integrate the project findings in their work. In his closing remarks, Mr Stuart Maniraguha, Director of Plantations at NFA, told the workshop, “This manual will be used to tackle gender-based constraints in the forestry sector of Uganda. NFA has already started to incorporating gender indicators in their activities and plan to use the tools presented in the Manual in their day-to-day operations.”

Since 2016, the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme has supported three projects in Uganda, amounting to over USD 293 000, primarily focusing on meeting transparency commitments, developing policy, legal and regulatory frameworks, and capacity building and institutional strengthening.

The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations is a global demand-driven initiative that provides technical support and resources for activities that further the goals of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan. The Programme is funded by the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.