Women in Forestry in India
91 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: July 31, 1991
For projects to secede, it is essential to document women?s relationship to forests -- in the context of their roles in different farming and food supply systems, domestic tasks, and income-earning activities. Such documentation would reveal ways to generate employment and income women. The minor forest product economy, for example, which is dominated by women, has never been the focus of government policy or a specific component of social forestry projects. Social forestry projects tend to be oriented to cash crops, which mostly benefit men. The fuelwood and fodder crisis has focused on problems of domestic subsistence; planners have been blinded to women's equally important role in the nondomestic forest economy. Forest-based activities are often poor women?s main?sometimes only?source income, particularly where women have no property rights in land. Women who have property rights only in livestock also depend on fodder, a product of forests and common property resources. Forests also provide food, medicines, and other products useful to poor people, especially in times of famine. The urban poor bear the brunt of the fuelwood crisis, especially as fuel prices rise. But the headloading of wood (collecting wood for sale) by rural women partly reflects their lack of jobs and income. Headloaders meet a crucial energy need but also contribute to the degradation of forests. This degradation can be reversed only by increasing biomass production and generating more jobs and income for women. Social forestry programs must be broadened to include women, watershed management, the management of common property resources, and such related enterprises as animal husbandry. Women can and do carry out most forestry tasks, even such arduous ones as pit digging watering, and soil work. Women involved in small-scale forest based industries -- such as bidi-rolling (indigenous leaf cigarettes) and basket-making -- must be helped to improve their skills and to learn to manage the entire process from collection to processing and sale. Rights to forest produce must be more clearly delineated. Women have successfully organized groups, reclaimed degraded land, plated forests on it, and managed forests jointly. Rights in degraded land allotted for afforestation can most easily be enforced and protected by organized women. The most important help nongovernment organizations can provide is to strengthen existing women's organizations and help build new ones. Collective organizations seem best adapted to exploit such development facilities as credit, extension advice, and access to new technology, raw materials sols in bulk, and the purchase and maintenance of labor-saving devices.
Keywords: Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems, Forestry, Environmental Economics & Policies, Crops and Crop Management Systems, Health Monitoring & Evaluation
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