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International Partnerships

Ivorian women claim their place in the forest sector

In rural Côte d’Ivoire, women depend on forests for the subsistence and health of their families. However, despite the existence of laws recognising gender equality, they are not involved in decisions that affect forests and have very limited access to land and associated economic benefits.

According to Commander Bernadette N’Guessan, technical assistant at the FLEGT Permanent Technical Secretariat of the Ministry of Water and Forests and coordinator of the Women and Forests project, women’s participation in the Ivorian forestry sector still has a long way to go. This lack of representation is due “to a blockage at the social and cultural level, rather than a blockage at the institutional or administrative levels, and the major challenge is to put an end to the idea that forest matters are reserved to men”.

I am very happy that the Ivory Coast suggested as part of our negotiations of the Agreement to recognise women’s right to play a role in forest governance, and to be included in the sharing of economic benefits derived from forests.

Chantal Marijnissen, chief VPA negotiator for the European Commission

The VPA negotiations have also played a key role in recent legal reforms of the country’s forest sector. These reforms, which will continue beyond the signing of the Agreement, could provide an opportunity to facilitate women’s access to forest resources and land. This, in turn, would ensure a more balanced sharing of economic benefits driven from forestry activities. “Such benefits would contribute to generating socioeconomic development opportunities for rural women,” underlines Ahoussi Delphine.