Management of forests is intimately linked to the rights and access of forest-dependent women and their families. Reforms in forest tenure in Africa, Asia and Latin America neglect the property rights of women and their rights of access to forest resources. Women have little say in forest governance. The male-female balance in forest management groups influences forest governance. The dynamics of mixed-gender groups are not well understood. The interface between environment and health offers a strategic opportunity to build on the strengths of forest-dependent women, mobilise support across sectors and political scales, and converge lay and professional knowledge for forest governance that takes women's interests and needs into account. Gender is just one factor in inequity and women are more likely to make progress by taking part in decision making processes than working outside them.