Forests, Gender and Power: a Political Ecological Perspective of Women in the Management of Community Forests in Cameroon

October 2013 to September 2022
forest use and management
poverty reduction
sustainable development
Central Africa
Research fields
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Social Sciences
The role played by local communities in the management of forests has grown significantly in recent years in Sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, the countries there are pursuing different forms of decentralization in order to enhance forest management. The Cameroon government has not been an exception in this regard, as it has, through legislation, enacted a decentralization process in the forestry sector through the devolution of power from the central level to local communities. It is worth noting that these legislations make limited provisions to support women against the barriers that restrict their rights and responsibilities in using and managing community forests. These laws focus on the community as a whole with no particular provisions on gender differences. In the light of this, using qualitative and quantitive research methods, this research through a political ecological perspective, argues that forest governance and resource sustainability will only improve if women are mainstreamed into community forest management. In general, the study focuses on the state of gender relations in the management of community forests in Cameroon with the particular case of the Kilum Ijim Forest Project area in the Northwest region of Cameroon. More specifically, it investigates the evolution of forestry reforms and gender relations in Cameroon. Critically analyzes women’s engagement in value chains of honey production. Assesses women’s political ecology views and valuation in the use and management of forest resources. Finally, evaluates the role of NGOs in empowering women in community forests areas. With a clearer understanding of all these factors, the study will generate recommendations for policy makers that could allow them to enhance and enforce equal use, control, management and conservation of community forests.