Programme FAO-UE FLEGT

Gender mainstreaming manual developed to tackle inequalities in Uganda’s forest sector


Kampala, Uganda

Women’s participation in the forest sector is 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 organization, Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN), to elaborate 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 gender mainstreaming manual, in development since December 2020, was presented to key stakeholders, including representatives from the European Union, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the United Kingdom, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Ministry of Water and Environment and the National Forest Authority (NFA) of Uganda.

Women and forest resources

Gender-responsive forest governance involves a deliberate focus on the ways in which gender informs perceptions and usage of forest resources, relationship with and knowledge about forests, and tenure security over forest resources. Understanding these aspects paves the way for women’s participation in decision-making, resource management and benefit-sharing.

“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.

New Manual elaborated to understand gender issues in forestry

In developing the manual, SWAGEN adopted a participatory research approach, including extensive consultations with forest stakeholders to understand the current levels of gender mainstreaming across the forest sector, identify existing gaps and policy interventions and examine strategies for promoting women’s participation in forest governance.

Presenting the final draft of the manual, Dr Amon Mwiine, Lecturer in the School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University, highlighted the gendered challenges faced within the forest sector. 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 the establishment of nurseries, weeding and other agroforestry practices.

As well as 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 forest stakeholders to address gaps in their work. These include creating gender-responsive human resource structures, ensuring participation in collaborative forest management and capitalizing on indigenous and traditional knowledge around forest resources.

The manual concludes with guidance on conducting a gender audit for monitoring and reporting purposes.

“It is crucial that gender is mainstreamed to ensure that the concerns of women are addressed in all forestry policy”, summarised Mr Antonio Querido, FAO Representative in Uganda.

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, private companies, environmental activists and community environmental practitioners.

The Plantations Department of the 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, revealed the impact that the manual has already had, stating, “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. This manual will be very useful to tackle gender-based constraints in the forestry sector of Uganda.”

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.