Value chains for forest products provide full and part-time work for women in many developing countries. Jobs are poorly paid but offer flexible working arrangements. Women have a low profile in these value chains because their input is either informal or is perceived to have little worth. The invisibility of women in forest product value chains means that policy makers often overlook women's needs. Policy and practice rarely directly support women and may, in some cases, even criminalise them. Broad policies that promote women's development seldom translate into action on the ground. Specific policies that support women working in forest product value chains may substantially improve benefits for women. Socio-cultural, religious, technical, policy and institutional barriers prevent women from working and trading in forest product value chains. Overcoming these is challenging. Understanding the roles women take in forest value chains is a pre-requisite for finding ways to help them overcome these obstacles. Encouraging and strengthening collective action among women can improve their opportunities in value chains for forest products. Women only groups encourage women more than mixed-gender groups. Groups for women working in value chains for forest products can build on existing women's self-help or social groups. However, women only groups need to be provided with literacy and skills training, and technologies suited to women. The diversity of value chains mean there is no single way forward. Nevertheless, a better understanding of the position of women in value chains and their preferences is a step towards devising strategies to empower specific groups of women, in specific value chains in specific contexts.