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Gender empowerment in forestry on International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day, a very special day to celebrate women’s achievements, it was time to raise awareness against gender bias and take action for equality. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Source: Timberbiz

Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.

UN sustainable Development Goal 5 highlights the importance of achieving equal opportunities of both genders and the forestry sector can play a part.

In many countries, the link between poverty, gender and sustainable forest management is a critical issue. Women are heavily involved in forest work such as collecting fuelwood, medicinal plants and other non-wood forest products, as well as food for family consumption.

Women also make specific contributions to forest value chains that are important for their incomes and, in turn, for the well-being and food security of their households. However, compared with men, rural women are frequently disadvantaged, for a variety of interrelated cultural, social, economic and institutional reasons, in their access to and control over forest resources and in the economic opportunities available to them.

Women’s knowledge of forests and trees is often discounted in forest decisions, and their role in forest-related value chains tends to be poorly supported by policymakers and extension services.

There is a crucial need to secure equal rights for women with regard to land tenure, access to resources and markets, skills development and value chains.

PEFC and SDG 5 PEFC certification promotes gender equality and the role of women in forestry through a variety of requirements and processes. Forest managers must be committed to equal opportunities and non-discrimination, and gender equality promoted.

Special consideration must be given to new opportunities for training and employment of local people – men and women alike.

Wages of forest workers – independent of gender – must meet or exceed legal, industry minimum standards. Through provision for effective communication and consultation with local communities with regards to sustainable forest management, PEFC certification provides a forum that better enables women to participate in forest decisions.