Improving women’s participation in good forest governance in Uganda

Copyright: Fiston Wasanga/CIFOR

Despite the inclusion of gender aspects in Uganda’s Forestry Policy, effective participation of women in decision-making processes remains scarce. Currently, women have no access by right and no control over productive resources such as forests. Dedicated roadmaps designed to address this issue are yet to be implemented or enforced. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme, has partnered with Ugandan NGO “Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment” (SWAGEN) to implement a project aimed at improving women’s participation in forest governance and promote equitable access to forest resources and related benefits.

At the launching event, attended by Representatives of line Ministries, Delegates of European Union Member States as well as FAO officials and the NGO community, Dr Amon Mwiine of SWAGEN outlined the methodology which will be used for developing a gender mainstreaming manual for forest policy. The manual will be compiled following research conducted in three forest Districts (Mount Moroto Central Forest Reserve, Mabira Central Forest Reserve and Rwoho Central Forest Reserve). These forest reserves were chosen because of the many forest-dependent communities living within and around their boundaries. Each of these communities display different norms, values, beliefs, customs and traditions which translate into different types of women marginalization.

“This easy-to-use manual will ensure that gender components will always be included in future policies” said Gertrude Kenyangi, SWAGEN’s Director.

A first step will be the review of policies and legal frameworks to identify existing gender roles and rights gaps associated with planning and decision-making in the forest sector. Once approved by all stakeholders, the Gender Mainstreaming Manual will be submitted to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, the Ministry of Water and Environment, the National Forest Authority and other Government authorities for validation.

The involvement of women from forest-dependent communities capitalizes on their unique knowledge of forest areas. Strengthening women’s active participation in decision-making processes is a powerful tool to increase productivity in the forest sector, ultimately improving livelihoods, while ensuring food security and sustainable forest management It further contributes towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 5, particularly the target of ensuring women’s full and active participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic, and public life.

Since 2016, the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme has supported seven projects in Uganda, amounting to over USD 540 000, primarily focusing on the establishment of a Timber Legality Assurance System and domestic market measures. 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.

To find out more: FAO-EU FLEGT Programme

Support For Women in Agriculture and Environment

Ministry of Water and Environment of Uganda

Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development of Uganda