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An Analysis of the Evolution of Forestry Reforms and Women’s Rights to Forest Use, Ownership and Management in Cameroon

In: Afrika Focus
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  • 1 Department of Plants and Crops, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium, Corresponding author Silvian.Ngefor@UGent.be
  • | 2 Department of Plants and Crops, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, University of Ghent, Belgium
  • | 3 Czech University of Life Sciences, Praha-Suchdol, Czech Republic, patrick.vandamme@ugent.be
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Abstract

Changes in forestry policies in Cameroon have often been initiated by different stakeholders in line with their respective interests, political and/or economic power, capacities and views. Consequently, communities, and especially women, inhabiting forest areas have faced difficulty using and managing forests, for cultural, social, economic and institutional reasons that limit their rights regarding the forest. This paper argues that institutional changes in Cameroon around ownership, use and management of forest resources have had far-reaching impacts on women who are dependent on these forests. We use secondary and primary data to support our analyses. Our findings reveal that over time, forestry reforms in Cameroon have been gender-blind or gender-neutral, with no clauses in forestry reforms that consider women’s vulnerabilities, needs and responsibilities. These reforms continue to impose secondary roles on women. By using gender-inclusive success stories from Nepalese forest communities, this research presses on policymakers to be more gender-inclusive when enacting forestry policies. Raising awareness and enforcing accountability that supports women will both improve the standards of living for everyone in forest communities and enhance sustainable forest management.

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