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Does Lead Role of Women in Local Forest Governance Guarantee Gender Equity in Costs and Benefits from Forests? A Study of Four Case Studies from Vidarbha Region in Maharashtra

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Mehra, Deepshikha
Conference: Sustaining Commons: Sustaining Our Future, the Thirteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Hyderabad, India
Conf. Date: January 10-14
Date: 2011
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/7153
Sector: Forestry
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): gender
cost benefit analysis
participatory development
joint management
Abstract: "Joint Forest Management (JFM) program in India, introduced in 1990, identified women as important stakeholders but subsequently their participation in decision-making was found to be nominal. Most of the JFM Committees (JFMCs) were headed by men and women held membership positions that had no powers. Successive revisions, evolutions and changes in JFM opened opportunities for women to head the JFMCs and thus provided more power to women in decision-making than before. However, has this resulted in better gender equity? The paper explores whether women-headed JFMCs have been able to ensure better participation of women than those headed by men and does this reflect in equity in gender-based distribution of costs and benefits from forests. A comparison across four case studies from Vidrabha region in Maharashtra state is done, where two women-headed JFMCs and two headed by men were studied using methods like household survey, group discussions and researchers’ observation. The case studies bring out the fact that participation of women, gender-equity in cost and benefits from forests and health of a forest institution are linked. A forest institution worked efficiently where active participation of women was found. It also reflected in higher benefits and lower costs to women from forests as compared to women in villages were forest institutions were inefficient. However, it was found that mere policy support for lead role of women in forest protection institutions does not lead to either overall active participation of women in forest governance or to gender-equity in distribution of costs and benefits from forest. Building leadership capacities in women and awareness in communities is very important before women are handed lead positions as they still have to face cultural constrains and hostilities. Positive, rigorous, and constant intervention of gender-supportive NGOs as well as the forest department is very essential in facilitating an effective role of women in forest management."

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