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NGOs push for women to take leadership in forestry

Put more women in forestry leadership roles, a group of NGOs said on Friday, and the impact could be greater than simply levelling the playing field.

Cambodia has recently joined the global carbon credit market through REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus), a system whereby developing countries that protect their forests can earn money selling “carbon credits” to high-pollution countries.

But Cambodia has yet to actually sell credits, and development groups WOCAN and Pact believe women are key to the initiative’s success.

The groups’ study of REDD+ in Oddar Meanchey province has found that women play important roles in forestry, with greater skills than men in foraging and marketing non-timber forest products like thatch and mushrooms.

But women have few opportunities to use this knowledge in projects like REDD+ because they have little role in forestry leadership.

“What’s wrong with the current situation now is women have not been invited,” WOCAN’s executive director Jeannette Gurung said. O

nly one community forestry leader in Oddar Meanchey is female, and men hold over 80 per cent of such positions nationally.

The Oddar Meanchey study found that household responsibilities and cultural attitudes prevent most women from taking forestry leadership roles.

The study is perhaps the world’s first to analyse gender’s role in an existing REDD program, Gurung said.

Gurung stressed the need not only for women’s technical training but also for a change in attitude, so that women who attend forestry meetings don’t just sit quietly and listen to men.

Pact and UN-REDD representatives told the Post that once Cambodia starts selling carbon credits, women’s inclusion in forestry decision-making and REDD+ should reinforce each other. But with ongoing debate about REDD’s efficacy, funding is low on both fronts.

To contact the reporter on this story: Justine Drennan at



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