How can forestry jobs be more friendly to women?

Advancing decent work, green jobs and sustainability in the forest sector (Lead: NFOPD). Photo by Sambat Ranabhat/FAO.

By Apsana Kafle, Nepal

From Dhanamaya, a community forestry leader in Nepal, to Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, FAO – women contribute equally important and valuable roles in forestry all over the world. 

“For women to succeed in forestry…organizations must support women and their specific needs.” – Kathryn Fernholz, President of Dovetail Partners

When discussing building a green, healthy, and resilient future with forests, specific attention is needed on making forestry jobs more inclusive to women. This was one of the issues explored throughout the XV WFC session “Advancing decent work, green jobs and sustainability in the forest sector”.

During the session, the topic of social dialogue was raised by Alette van Leur, Director, Sectoral Policy Department, International Labour Organization (ILO). The ILO defines social dialogue as “negotiations or simply exchange of information between governments, employers and workers on issues of common interest”. Van Leur stated that “Social dialogue is key to promoting decent work including safe working spaces in forestry,” an important foundation to attract both men and women to the sector.

In line with this, Victor Violante, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Australian Forest Products, noted that forestry continues to be a “dangerous working space” and that “decent transition” could be a solution. Transition in a sector starts with education, therefore, Paola Deda, Director of Forests, Land and Housing, UNECE recommended the reformation of forestry education to make it attractive to women and youth.

The session also included specific insights from countries, and the Director General of Forest Industry and Policy of the KFS shared that “Korea aims to create green jobs in forestry that can attain climate neutrality and gender equality”. The provision of pathways and employment opportunities within the sector to women across Korea has already started to be created thanks to joint projects between the FAO and KOICA. These pathways need to be strengthened though as forestry tends to be a highly informal sector. In fact, Rebecca Ssanyu, Social Policy Specialist from Uganda, highlighted the urgency for decent work and work insurance policy within the sector. 

Over the course of the XV World Forestry Congress and six thematic areas, there will be more discussions on how the forestry sector can be made more inclusive at different levels. The 2022 2022 Women’s Forest Congress is also due to take place on 17–20 October 2022 and this Congress will delve even further into this important issue.

Featured image: Sambat Ranabhat

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