chapter  4
18 Pages

A Different Vantage Point: Decentralization, Women’s Organizing and Local Forest Management

BySeema Arora-Jonsson

The past decade has witnessed an important shift in international and national discussions about natural resource management (see, for example, Shackleton et al, 2002). The forest sector especially has undergone policy shifts wherein people’s participation and the attention to gender relations in forest issues have been recognized as important in bringing about sustainable forest governance. Decentralization has been considered a powerful means by which to achieve development goals in ways that respond to the needs of local communities (cf. World Bank, 2000). Scholars, development practitioners and others working with resource management have advocated linking up with efforts by men and women in local communities to form viable local institutions for the governance of natural resources. Keeping in mind the importance of gender relations in everyday life, in this chapter I discuss how a more democratic and gender-equitable decentralization might be achieved in natural resource management. My aim is less to present firm solutions or recommendations than to examine some of the problems and contradictions that can arise in efforts toward increased local management. By suggesting ways to approach them, I hope to initiate a discussion that can inform theoretical and policy debates on gender-equitable natural resource management. More importantly, I hope that the discussion may encourage thinking and actions that each of us can use to benefit both men and women living and working with development and natural resources in their communities.