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The School of Forestry holds a dissemination workshop on addressing the gender gap in participation and representation in Community Forestry in Uganda

Participants pose for a group photo at the SFEGS entrance

  • Participants advocate for the institutionalization of Adaptive Collaborative Management (ACM) method to transform gender relations.

The Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in partnership with Makerere University School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences (SFEGS) and the Association of Uganda Professional Women in Agriculture and the Environment (AUPWAE) on 25th October, 2016, held a research dissemination workshop on addressing the gender gap in participation and representation   in community forestry in Uganda.

The workshop was held at the SFEGS conference room and officially opened by the renown researcher, practitioner, first Makerere University forestry female graduate of 1977, who is also Vice President Uganda Forestry Association, Racheal Musoke.

The workshop brought together key actors from government, civil society, research/academia, media and development partners for collective reflections on the findings and outcomes from research.

           

                                    A section of the participants during the workshop

In her opening remarks, Musoke recalled her days at Makerere University when she was the only female forester in a class of 27 saying, it was interesting and at the same time, challenging even after she started working after graduation in a male dominated world. She expressed happiness over the recent and current opening up on gender issues.

Musoke also observed that many people to date do not understand the role of gender and foresters including policy makers unless, they encounter a number of problems like disease and fire outbreaks to seek expertise of foresters.

“So, Forestry is important and unique field that we can embrace taking care of gender as we know that women handle different roles in a family. All along, 90% of the population depends on herbal medicine. Given the diversity of the bio diversity we need, foresters should tell policy makers how important forestry is using the clinical approach”. She said.

                         

                               Makerere's own alumnus Racheal Musoke opening the workshop

She recognized government’s efforts in integrating gender in all its structures, activities and for advocating for forestry to be part of the Ministry of Water and Environment.

“There is need for this kind of research to embrace gender. I have seen women participate and women coming up to take up male dominated roles. Once women and men come together, we shall have much output and benefits from forests”. She said.

From 2011 -2016, CIFOR with funding from Austrian Development Agency (ADA) carried out research on gender, tenure and community forests in Uganda and Nicaragua. In Uganda, CIFOR collaborated with SFEGS and AUPWAE. The project was spearheaded by Prof. A.Y Banana from the Department of Forestry, Bio diversity and Tourism as the Principal Investigator (PI).

Prof. Banana told participants that CIFOR and its partners set out to explore ways to shift gender dynamics, targeting various forest user groups.

He said the overall goal of the research project was to improve women’s tenure rights to forests through their increased participation in community forest user groups with regard both to decision making and livelihood benefits.

               The Project Principal Investigator (Middle) Prof. Abwoli Banana addressing participants

The purpose of the project according to the PI was to enhance stakeholder uptake of institutional and policy innovations to promote women’s’ participation, specifically regarding the way in which community forestry-related decisions include women and reflect their particular interests.

“One of the components of research was implementation of Adaptive Collaborative Management (ACM) in selected 6 communities in Uganda. Under ACM, communities especially women have to take responsibility of activities to restore natural resources to their sustainability state while fully benefitting from their efforts”, The Professor said adding that:

“The objective of this workshop is to disseminate our research findings. CIFOR’s research has boosted women’s leadership and participation in forest user groups and both men and women are reaping the benefits. We would also like to advocate for institutionalization, out scaling and up scaling of the ACM methodology”. Prof. Banana said.

The summarized findings of a five year research process ( 2011-2016) that explored how to strengthen women’s rights to access forests and trees and increase their participation in forest decision making and capture were presented by the research team.

A presentation of the ACM process (Methodology) was made by Alice Tibazalika while the ACM results, achievements and lessons were presented by Concepta Mukasa. Jimmy Bushoborozi presented research findings on, “Determining the ACM influence on closing the gender gap in forestry management”.

                              

                                          A section of the participants and  Alice Tibazalika presenting (R)

The first phase of ACM was implemented beginning May 2011 to June 2013. The second phase was implemented beginning February 2014 and ending October, 2016.

The presentations highlighted insights from the implementation of ACM, an approach tested in different cultural settings. ACM has been found to improve participation of marginalized groups in community forestry processes including decision making and benefit sharing.

Major challenges found to be hindering closing of the gender gap included cultural norms where some tree species remain a taboo for women, weak women’s rights to land and trees, NFA focus on investors, women’s low education levels and slow adoption rates among others.

Researchers used ACM to implement interventions chosen by people in six randomly selected communities in four districts of Uganda.

According to ACM facilitator Alice Tibazalika, ACM is a value adding approach whereby people with interests in natural resource agree to act together to plan, observe, learn recognizing that plans often fail to achieve their stated objectives.

“The method employs a cycle of participatory action research whereby participants jointly identify problems, outline, implement and monitor actions; reflect on what does and does not work and identify actions to address what does not work. Such groups consciously communicate, collaborate, negotiate, resolve conflicts and seek out actions” She said.

The ACM was conducted by facilitators trained in the methodology including community members based in each of the six study areas.

    

 Part of  the project team Alice Tibazalika and Concepta Mukasa consulting one another during the workshop

Tibazalika explained that participatory methodologies in ACM included visioning and participatory planning, implementation of action plans, indicator development, participatory monitoring and evaluation, trainings, exchange visits, linkage creations, documentation, publication and dissemination of information and policy engagements.

The ACM Coordinator, Concepta Mukasa said the indicators were developed jointly with communities for monitoring and evaluating progress in implementing selected activities particularly gender equality including the number of women in leadership position, attending community meetings, contributing actively to discussions, owning trees on their farms or in community forestry reserves and the number of women controlling incomes /benefits.

“ At the start of the project, women expressed concerns over several forest and tree related issues that included exclusion from decisions despite their use and management of forest reserves, absence in leadership positions, poor attendance at meetings, lack of confidence to speak and cultural norms that prevent them from planting, owning and economically benefiting from trees”. She said.

                    

                    L: The Veteran Professor. Victoria Mwaka also attended the workshop

Thus the ACM process and interventions were aimed at addressing the above concerns.

By and large findings showed that ACM has enhanced women participation in forest management. More women were reported to be decision making positions while equitable benefit sharing was on track. Results also showed that ACM was encouraging collaborative problem solving and learning among stakeholder and created linkages between participants and external actors such as NGOs and Government. The other achievement was increased women confidence evidenced by ACM women group members who contested for political positions in the primaries at village level.

The achievements were attributed to the ACM safe platform for women to speak, mixed groups that encouraged participation, motivated facilitators, adoption of women contributions, concrete results and introduction of village banking among others.

“ACM facilitation has resulted in solid gains for women’s equality in forest use and management as a well as broader livelihoods outcomes and gains to forest sustainability. ACM seems to provide a promising pathway for achieving meaningful gender inclusion in forestry”. The ACM coordinator Concepta Mukasa said.

               Some of the participants during the workshop

A panel of experts from the Ministry of Gender, the forestry sector, academia and Civil Society Organizations deliberated on issues arising from the study and how the gender gap can be bridged.

Participants noted that there was need for adequate gender analysis and looking at gender in terms of gender role differentiation, women empowerment and representation especially at the Local Government level.

It was also noted that addressing gender gaps in community forest management would work better through men where cultural values are very strong; good policy analysis to evaluate how and what was being implemented and; working synergies by linking with other stakeholders to achieve what communities want.

While promoting gender issues, participants expressed the need for researchers to be cautious about cultural values to avoid clashes that may result to instability in families and to make sure that project results are institutionalized to be part of the Local Government for sustainability.

           A panel of experts during the discussion of the research findings

In his closing remarks, the Head Department of Forestry, Bio diversity and Tourism Prof. Philip Nyeko commended the project team for the job well-done and the participants for the lively discussions.

Prof. Nyeko urged experts in the gender domain to reach out to people to increase awareness on grounds that the question of bridging the gender gap in all spheres of life has been given a lot of attention but the subject remains ambiguous.

“Gender and natural resources management is one of the contentious debates of the time. We need to reach out to the masses and ensure more participation from various stakeholders to comprehensively impact on the debate on gender”, Prof. Nyeko said.

                              Centre: Prof. Philip Nyeko giving the closing remarks

He said Makerere University has streamlined gender issues in its activities and structures and has a full department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism pledging continued participation in this kind of projects.

“We remain very committed in participating in Gender issues. In so doing, we shall be ready to host and discuss crucial findings as demonstrated in this project”, Prof. Nyeko promised.

The issue: Women and Forest Management in Uganda

A large and growing body of evidence demonstrates that women’s involvement in forest management produces gains for forest conservation and livelihoods. Despite that, women continue to be eliminated from forest decision making bodies and economic benefits from forests and trees allocated disproportionally to men who often gain from trade in high value products.

In Uganda, there is important progress in gender mainstreaming in the forestry sector. The Forestry Policy, Forestry Act and Plan address gender and women’s specific needs. However, their implementation is weak and cultural norms, beliefs and practices continue to pose significant constraints to women’s access and control over forest resources. This limits their participation in decision making and benefits capture and undermines their investment in sustainable use and management of forest and tree resources.

 

Report compiled by;

Jane Anyango,

Communication Officer,

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).

 

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