Panel 5



Gender, tenure and community forests in Uganda: Policy and practice for women’s participation

Abwoli Y. Banana1, Concepta Mukasa2, Alice Tibazalika2 and Esther Mwangi3
1School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Makerere University
2Association of Uganda Women Profession in Agriculture ad Environment
3Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

Despite the trend toward greater participation of communities in forest management, women have been largely shut out of decision making. Yet women depend on forest resources for subsistence, as safety nets and even for income. This study reviews policies, legal and institutional frameworks, organizations working in forests and district level governments to understand the extent to which Uganda’s constitutional provisions supporting gender equality are being practiced. It finds important progress in gender mainstreaming but weak implementation at all levels. For example, the Forestry Policy, Forestry Act and Forestry Plan all address gender and women’s specific needs. Nevertheless, institutional, legal and policy frameworks are not backed up by relevant legal provisions for ensuring compliance.

Through interviews in three districts at varying distance from the capital Kampala, the study also examined the extent to which gender features in projects and programmes that involve forests. On the one hand, about three-quarters of organizations not specific to forestry had written gender policies and had strategies to promote gender integration, perhaps due to funding partner pressure as a condition for funding. Only one third of these organizations reported success. On the other hand, the majority of forest-specific organizations had no policy on gender and did not show any intention of promoting gender in forest management.

At the district level, integrating gender in forest management activities was hindered by the limited number of women in technical and leadership positions, absence of the gender focal persons required by law, and inadequate knowledge and skills on gender equity issues by councilors and district technical staff. At community level, women’s groups are supporting capacity building and access to loans from micro-finance institutions, which may improve women’s ability to participate effectively in the management of forest resources. Nevertheless, all levels would benefit from the development of indicators for monitoring and the design of specific targeted gendered strategies for practitioners.

Keywords: Gender, Institutions, Forest programs, Forest Management, Tenure, Forests/tree


Enhancing women’s participation in forest management using AdaptiveCollaborative Management in selected districts of Uganda

Concepta Mukasa, Alice Tibazalika, Abwoli Y. Banana and Gloria Guma

The Adaptive Collaborative Management (ACM) approach is a participatory research method involving a process through which community members identify a problem, collect and analyze information and act upon the problem to find solutions and promote socio-economic and political transformation. Under the Gender, Tenure and Community Forestry project conducted in selected districts of Uganda, we found that women’s participation in forest management was low in those communities where there were no formal forest user-groups or associations. This paper presents the early results of ACM implementation in six randomly selected communities out of 18 forest adjacent communities, aimed to enhance community participation in forest management with emphasis on gender. Both men and women participated in the process.

After one year of implementation, participation in ACM workshops had declined by 50%; the majority of those who were active were women while most of the male youth were less active. Nevertheless, in the study communities, women were in a better position to set the agenda for discussion in forest user groups. More women had taken up leadership positions. Four of the groups had women as chairpersons, whereas no group was led by a woman before. All user groups had women holding positions on the group executive committee. 40% of women in the groups had started planting trees on their farmlands demonstrating ability to manage trees (fruit and other trees). Nine women group members owned woodlots of timber trees such pine and eucalyptus, compared to five who owned woodlots before the project. Over 90% of women had never thought of planting or managing trees apart from fruit trees before the project. And women had started to express themselves freely in front of their husbands about their need to be allocated land for tree planting.


Promoting inclusive natural resource governance through Adaptive Collaborative Management in nine indigenous communities of Nicaragua

Xochilt Hernandez, Pilar Muller, Roberto Marchena, Alejandro Pikitle, Ceferino Wilson

The Gender, Tenure and Community Forests project began in 2010 in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), with the objective of understanding the dynamics that prevented the full engagement and equitable participation of women in the management and benefit sharing mechanisms of indigenous community forests. This paper presents preliminary results of research and Adaptive Collaborative Management (ACM) implementation. It demonstrates how ACM, though originally aimed at women’s participation in forest management specifically, has begun to improve overall governance conditions in several study communities.

ACM activities and training workshops were implemented in six miskitu and three mayangna communities. Though ACM was aimed at promoting the inclusion of women in forest decisions and benefits, one of the most important problems identified was the lack of participation of most women or men in natural resource decisions. Hence community members identified broader governance challenges, specifically the weak communal organization for natural resource management, as the primary problem that hindered community development.

ACM action plans were thus developed to strengthen communal organization. First, internal (community) norms were constructed and validated in most of the communities. In the context of indigenous community customary law, developing clear norms and sanctions was seen as providing a solid framework to monitor progress, strengthen communal organization for better natural resource management, and most importantly as a way to measure communal leaders’ accountably. Second, community monitoring tools and methods were developed for the various activities according to each community action plan. In many cases, community members have appropriated monitoring philosophy and are applying this in other spheres, from the use of communal funds to a bakery that is run and managed by women. These activities have begun to establish the basis for a more democratic and equitable administration and benefit sharing mechanisms and more inclusive community organization for both men and women.

Comparative Assessment of gender roles in community forests in Uganda and Nicaragua

Anne Larson, Esther Mwangi and Jeffrey Alwang*
*Professor, department of agricultural and applied economics, virginia tech; 215 I Hutcheson, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061

Studies of gender and forests suggest important differences between men and women in forest use, benefits and participation in decision making. Much less is known of how this participation gap correlates with income and benefits differentials between men and women in the forestry sector, or in their relative levels of investments in forest improvements. Using recently collected data from 600 randomly selected household surveys in community forest-use areas of Nicaragua and Uganda, this paper examines how relative forest use/dependence correlates with participation in sale, use of funds, and decision making. Relationships between household dependence on forest incomes and women’s participation in decisions about investments in the forest are also explored. We focus on these two countries as there is a common argument in the literature that women participate more in forest use, particularly collection of non timber forest products, in Africa than in Latin America, where forest use is dominated by timber management and by men.

Results show that Nicaraguan households are more actively engaged in a diverse portfolio of extraction activities, and receive a higher share of household income from forest extraction, though forest activities are dominated by men. In Uganda forest activities appear balanced between men and women. Gender roles are dramatically different between Nicaragua and Uganda. In Uganda, while women’s participation in forest extraction (particularly firewood) activities is higher compared to Nicaragua, Ugandan men exercise stronger control over decision making and forest-related resources. Women have higher rates of participation in forest decision making in Nicaragua. In both countries, women’s participation in decision making about forest management is highest for decisions at the household level. Outside the household, women’s participation in decision making within community groups seems to also be relatively high, though men perceive this as higher than women do.


CIFOR website usability survey

We're conducting research on our website and we'd love to hear from you about your experience on This will help us make improvements and prioritize new features. The survey should only take 5 minutes, and your responses are completely anonymous.

If you have any questions about the survey, please email us:

We really appreciate your input!

Start survey
I don’t want to participate
Remind me later