Participation in a Gendered Environment: The Case of Community Forestry in India

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Human Ecology

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Social stratification -- India, Gender -- India, Community forestry -- India, Social justice


Women are important stakeholders in natural resource policies since rural women in developing countries are responsible for most of the collection of food, fuel, and firewood for commercial and domestic use. When it comes to the management of these natural resources, gender inequality due to societal traditions could limit the ability of women to participate in policy-making, even when they are not formally excluded. This paper analyzes the effect of gender stratification on women's participation by undertaking an empirical study of a participatory environmental policy program in Indian villages. It endeavors to answer the question of how gender stratification affects participatory environmental policy-making. Using the case study of a community forestry program, it finds that women are still marginalized in decision-making, even in participatory environmental policies. Gender stratification continues to impinge upon forms of democratic decision-making in developing societies. Using facilitating policy tools that seek to empower such marginalized groups would be one way of making participation meaningful for all groups in society.


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