A member of the Governing Council of the African Forest Forum (AFF) says women must be fully included in sustainable forest management in order to effectively respond to climate change and reduce poverty in Africa.

Cécile Ndjebet says enhancing women’s active engagement, strengthening their land and tree tenure rights, and implementing equitable benefit-sharing systems, are critical to achieving more effective and equitable outcomes on sustainable forest management.

Speaking at the 15th World Forestry Congress in Seoul, Korea, she pointed out that women’s rights to resources and access to the benefits generated by their conservation actions will be in jeopardy, if gender inclusion is not achieved.

“No gender into the forestry projects, no sustainable forest management, no effective climate change response and more poverty in Africa,” she lamented.

According to the gender specialist and agronomist, gender-responsive measures can greatly increase the success of forest landscape initiatives and programmes.

She, therefore, wants to see efforts taken to boost women’s positions and include them in talks and choices around forest, tree and land conservation.

A 2020 technical report by the African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests (REFACOF) stated that women working in agroforestry in Togo and Côte d’Ivoire have increased their income by roughly 25% through selling food crops and tree seedlings.

Because women account for more than half of the population in most African nations and produce more than 70% of the food, and are the greatest group of forest users, Cécile Ndjebet believes that putting women at the center of forest and tree programme decision-making structures and mechanisms is vital.

The congress was organised by the Collaborative Partnership on Forest (CPF), chaired by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).