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#womensustain

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN

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VIETNAM

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Vu Le Y Voan When the Forest Feeds Your Family You Want to Take Care of It

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Tran Thi Thanh Binh My Husband Brings Me my Raincoat and Parasol

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Bui Thi Hiem Planting Trees in Vietnam – When Women Take Responsibility

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NEPAL

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Laxmi Pokhrel My Forest has Made me Independent

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Lilu Magar I am Proud of Being a Female Forester in Nepal

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Saraswati Aryal Working for a More Gender Sensitive Forestry Sector

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BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

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Danica Cigelj Forests are Life

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Ljiljana Čavara Every Forest Owner Should be Proud

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Elmedina Kilašević If you Stand Out as the Only Female Forester, Use it to be Heard

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DENMARK

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Tanja Sparrewath Hansen For Many Women, Forestry is not Seen as an Option

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Inge Gillesberg The Second Woman in Denmark to become Forest Supervisor

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Pia Willumsen A Female Forest Owner with a Forest Garden

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Campaign #womensustain This publication is part of our international campaign “Women Sustain Forests - Sustainability Through Equality,” launched with help from the DANIDA financed program “Empowerment of Communities through Democratic Natural Resource Management” and implemented by a partnership between NGOs from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Nepal, and Vietnam. We have 10 years left to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Globally, the forestry sector is still male dominated. The #womensustain campaign 2020 contributes to raising awareness and helping to meet SDG5 – Gender Equality. Our key message is that we need the competences and work of both men and women to beat climate change and secure sustainable forests.

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PARTNERS

Association of Family Forest Owners Nepal

Forestry and Environmental Action

Danish Forestry Extension

More Trees Vietnam

Wildlife Conservation Nepal

DONORS

Danida – Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

CISU – Civil Society in Development

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Here are the voices of 12 women, who, in different ways, work in and for forests. They are tree growers, forest users and owners, foresters, and forest supervisors. They are NGO, university, and government employees. All these women have a special relationship with the forest and an interest in taking care of it. With this publication, we want to highlight the contribution of women to forests and forestry. Women are often the ones having an intimate relationship with the forest because it is most often the women who use the forest to meet the family’s daily needs for food, firewood, and fodder. However, as we look at the forest sector, and especially managerial and leadership positions, it is men who hold most of these positions.

By achieving a greater balance, where both men and women contribute on all levels, we can work together to put forests front and center in the fight against climate change. Forests are a fundamental component in reversing the negative effects of climate change. Trees are the best technology we have to absorb carbon from our atmosphere. So, let us come together and get inspired by forests and nature!

With this publication, we also want to encourage women to work for forests and pursue careers in the forest sector. We also invite governments and the forestry sector to actively promote gender equality.

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VIETNAM

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VIETNAM

When the Forest Feeds Your Family You Want to Take Care of It NAME

Vu Le Y Voan

AGE

57 years

EDUCATION

Bachelor in English

JOB

Technical Advisor of the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) program, FAO. 12


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VIETNAM

How is it for you to be a woman in the forestry sector?

How are women represented in the sector in your country?

When implementing a forestry project, the female manager needs to be persistent and dare to face challenges.

Nowadays, society is actually positive towards and appreciates the contribution of women in the forestry sector.

Project sites are always located in remote, mountainous areas where infrastructure is at a low level, traveling is hard, utilities are poor, literacy is low etc.

There are more and more women in managerial positions at institutions like the Vietnamese Administration of Forestry, Vietnam University of Forestry, Vietnamese Academy of Forest Sciences and in the various associations and NGOs.

Women working in this sector need to face and overcome all those challenges.

There are also a number of female students in the

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educational institutions.


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“Women are the ones who go to the forest to find vegetables, bamboo shoots and other edible products from the forest. That increases their skills and creates the feeling of appreciation for the forest – the place that feeds them and their family.�

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VIETNAM

How would you describe the forestry sector in the area where you are working? My programme works in four different geographical areas. Each area has a different orientation and goals. One has high forest cover and tries to improve the value of plantation forests and NTFPs, another is focussed on agroforestry, forestry cooperatives, processing mills and FSC certified plantations. And another has a focus on fruit trees and ecotourism.

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However, there are some “hot� areas where the forests are not being used properly: fruit trees are grown on land planned for timber; land is left unplanted, making it uncultivated; in other places, people get rights to manage government forestry land but they do not reforest the land. The FFF programme is working to resolve those problems.


#womensustain Do you think you have different motives, goals, skills and practices than your male colleagues? I do not think there are differences in motives, goals, skills and practices between men and women when doing this job. When working with the remote and mountainous communities, I think that it is important to investigate which local policies or supporting resources that can be taken as advantages to bring benefits to the people. I make a roadmap to motivate the local foresters to corporate, produce forestry products, investigate the market, and do business sustainably.

Have you faced any form of discrimination tied your status or your work? Such things happen now and then to anyone; it is not only my own experience. Fortunately, the government has adjusted some policies to promote gender equality. For example, the new regulation on the retirement age of female employees, increasing the retirement age so that women can retire at 60, giving them a chance to dedicate more time to their work.

“We should trust women’s ability, train them and offer opportunities for them to perform.”

Do you think that women have different competences that can make changes in beating climate change? I do not think women have different competences, but their skills may be better than men’s. Women often take care of the family and children. Women are the ones who go to the forest to find vegetables, bamboo shoots and other edible products from the forest. That increases their skills and creates the feeling of appreciation for the forest – the place that feeds them and their family. Therefore, they are willing to apply sustainable methods of producing practices and forest management if they are trained to understand and practise.

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VIETNAM Could you share an interesting story or experience that you have heard or experienced, and that is related to this topic of women in forestry? A woman in one of my working areas, Ms. Nguyen Thi Mai, used to be a poor forest grower. She participated in our farmer training and got support for establishing and operating a production group. Now, Ms. Mai is the owner of a processing mill, which has created jobs for many other women and group members.

In general, do you consider gender issues important for the further development of the sector? Yes, it is very important. If the gender issue is taken seriously and implemented, there will be many benefits as we will utilize and promote resources and wisdom of women in forestry development and sustainable management.

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“If the gender issue is seen seriously and implemented, there will be many benefits as we will utilize and promote resources and wisdom of women in forestry development and sustainable management.�

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VIETNAM

My Husband Brings Me My Raincoat and Parasol NAME

Tran Thi Thanh Binh

AGE

45 years

EDUCATION

PhD in Plant Protection

JOB

Lecturer and Researcher, Vietnam Forestry University

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VIETNAM Binh works as a lecturer and researcher at the Forestry University in Hanoi. In her opinion, forestry is a tough job, especially for women. When she goes to the field with her students they have to walk far, sometimes through streams and sometimes in pouring rain, and when she comes home, exhausted, she still has to do the housework, assist her children with homework and play with them. “I have made a lot of effort to not let the work affect my personal life,” she explains and continues: “When I started this job, my husband was not very happy because I left home early and came back late. He thought that teaching was a leisure job with a lot of spare time for the family, but his wife always looked rough and messy like a farmer!”

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“Fortunately, with time, my husband has come to understand my job and he takes care of me: He gives me a parasol on sunny days and a raincoat on rainy days, before I go to work,” she explains. Binh’s children also support their mother in her profession: “They all say they are very proud of me. This is really strong encouragement for me to perform my duties at my best.”

“Women in forestry do not have advantages like those who are in other sectors.”


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Moved and fired up by a greener Vietnam Binh often hears people say that forestry is too hard for women, but inside she feels that they are “moved and fired up” by the work that she and her colleagues are doing when they go around planting trees and greening the country. According to Binh, planting trees is generally getting a lot of attention from the communities all over Vietnam, and she notices how the government is striving to call out to the people on every level to protect the forest and nature and to plant more trees.

“Awareness about the important role of the forest in daily life among communities, especially women and students, is being significantly improved. Service fees paid by the government for taking care of forests also help local people to generate extra income and to acknowledge the necessity of forests to life.” She also mentions that there is a new trend of “producing under the forest canopy” where farmers combine growing trees for timber with the production of herbal plants and honeybees to increase their income in a sustainable way.

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VIETNAM

Job advertisements only for men Binh believes that women play an important role in planting trees and protecting the forest. As she explains: “Women are always patient, long-suffering, and calm in tough situations. Forestry jobs do not yield immediate results but may take five to ten years or longer.”

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When asked if she has ever faced discrimination, she says: “I have indeed experienced such situations. For some kind of jobs our managers still think that men will perform better than women. In some job vacancies, they even mention that only male candidates can apply. They think that female employees need too much time for a wedding, pregnancy and babies, which affects the job, so they prefer to employ men.”


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In the forestry sector, she says that men are frankly speaking more highly recommended than women and this means that most ranger counties (what is that?) are led by men and that men still hold most managerial positions “Women in forestry do not have advantages like those who are in other sectors. However, the forestry sector needs women to do various jobs such as researching, training, technology transfer or manual labour that requires meticulousness and patience, ” she explains. Binh believes that gender issues are very important to consider in forestry: “Hard physical labour like harvesting, loading and transferring should be done by men, while other jobs requiring skilfulness and meticulousness such as weeding, planting and maintenance are suitable for women. Managerial positions should be distributed equally for candidates of both genders,” she says.

When asked about a story from her work she tells about a visit to an indigenous village: “They were very delighted when telling about their livelihood improvement thanks to their own hard work and the support and encouragement from the government. The bright smiles on their faces really made us feel warm and proud about the job we are doing.”

“Forestry jobs do not yield immediate results but may take five to ten years or longer.”

“We women will be consistently on the way we choose and keep making efforts.“

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VIETNAM

Planting Trees in Vietnam – When Women Take Responsibility NAME

Bui Thi Hiem

AGE

59 years

EDUCATION

High School Degree

JOB

Tree grower

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VIETNAM

Hiem is 59 years old and her main job is growing trees in Hoa Binh Province, a remote mountainous province south-west of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

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Hiem explains that she and her family are taking care of 10ha of protected public forest. In addition, they have 8ha of their own land, where they grow 3ha of acacia trees, and utilize 5ha for maize, cassava and sweet potatoes and for rearing cows and goats. “Planting trees is contributing 70% of my family’s total income.

I am very delighted to talk about my work and the women around me working in this sector,” Hiem says.


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“Growing trees is closely related to the issue of climate change. Once you grow trees on your land, the air around becomes fresh and you feel cool thanks to the tree shade.�

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VIETNAM

A modern work division in the family Hiem feels that growing trees is a physically hard job, especially for a woman: “You are in the field most of the day, with heavy workloads and, traditionally, apart from planting, women are also responsible for farming, housework and village duties”. Luckily, in Hiems family growing trees has led to a new division of labour: “I do the field work and my husband does the housework and tends to the cows and goats,” she explains.

When it comes to making decisions in the family, Hiem’s husband is still seen as the head of the family - at least on the surface: “Whenever my family needs to make a decision related to the plantation or farming work, my husband decides what to do, I just follow and support him. If I do not agree with his decision, I choose a suitable time to softly talk to him, discuss with him until we come to a common agreement, then he again announces the new decision to the family, and our children follow it,” she explains.

“Growing trees is a hard job, especially for a woman. You are in the field most of the day with heavy work loads and traditionally apart from planting, women are also responsible in farming, housework and village duties.” 30


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Endurance and eagerness to learn According to Hiem, women have a number of advantages in forestry. Women have more knowledge about techniques in planting and maintaining trees because they are more patient than men to observe and learn the characteristics of the trees. “Our endurance is also better than men, although forestry is a very tough job,” Hiem says. Personally, she is very eager to learn new things and feels happy that her family always supports her when she is offered to go for trainings that has in turn improved her trees. This means that her fellow villagers now come to her for advice.

Hiem feels that she and the other women in the village are doing a fair contribution to combat climate change: “Growing trees is closely related to the issue of climate change. Once you grow trees on your land, the air around becomes fresh and you feel cool thanks to the tree shade. Trees help us to strengthen the land, and erosion and landslides are avoided. Drought also happens less. Women are also taking responsibility of many village duties which gives them the chances to raise awareness among local people about forest protection and sustainable management.”

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VIETNAM

Discrimination and negotiation skills Even though Hiem has never felt discriminated against in her own family, she can see that women are discriminated against in society: “When you negotiate the timber price with the middlemen, the chance for a good price is higher if you are a man. Perhaps men are better at negotiating than women, but I also believe that people respect men more,” she explains and continues to tell that, for that reason, all the selling of goods in her village are undertaken by men. Personally, she feels that both men and women have an important role to play when it comes to environmental protection: “Work will go smoothly when both men and women discuss and implement together. Doing this, both sexes can promote their strengths and help others in their weakness,” she concludes.

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“Women are more patient than men to observe and learn the characteristics of the tree.�

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NEPAL

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NEPAL

My Forest has Made me Independent NAME

Laxmi Pokhrel

AGE

62 years

EDUCATION

Basic School Education

JOB

Farmer and Forest Owner

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NEPAL

Laxmi Pokhrel is 62 years old and lives with her family in the small village of Kageshwori in the green hills that surround Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Laxmi has a primary school education. The family has a small farm with agriculture and cows and Laxmi has also established a small family forest.

Laxmi is aware of the important role her forest plays for the livelihood of her family: “The forest has been a great support for me and my family.

According to Laxmi, women play a special role in forestry and agriculture in Nepal: “Most of the men have gone away to the cities or abroad to work.

It has fulfilled our family’s daily need for firewood for cooking and for animal fodder as well as veterinary supplements for the cows.

Women are living with the elders and the children in the village. They have the responsibility for farming and family forests and for sustaining the family livelihood.

The cows in turn provide manure for farming,” Laxmi proudly explains and adds that the trees also protect the hilly area against erosion.

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In a family forest, agriculture and forest are integrated and women have the skills and knowledge to do farming in the family forest.


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Men want money, women want to sustain their livelihood As women are the primary caretakers in the village, they also have a different stance on how the forest should be utilized than men. Laxmi explains it this way: “The priority of men and women are different when it comes to the forest. Women manage the forests to fulfill the daily needs for forest products. So, I plant all types of trees to produce fodder for goats, fodder for cows and buffalo, and fuel wood, as well as other herbs and grasses. Timber is the last priority because it is only harvested occasionally. The men on the other hand, want to plant fast growing trees for timber production because timber can be sold in the market to generate money. When the men go to the forest, they see big trees for cutting and selling to get money here and now, but when women go to the forest they see many things to sustain their livelihoods and to protect the environment. Men always talk about selling timber to get more money, but we need grass, fodder, and fuel wood to sustain our livelihood.�

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NEPAL

“It is most essential to consider gender issues in the development of the forest. Women have different needs and experiences for conducting daily life in Nepal.”

Laxmi sold her timber Being a woman in a male dominated society, Laxmi has felt discrimination due to her gender. She tells about an incident where she and other villagers had planted trees on fallow land and slopes to produce timber. When the time came to sell the trees, the villagers faced problems identifying a proper selling point and to make sense of the legal procedures for felling the trees.

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Laxmi tells: “I also tried to find a way to sell the timber from our family forest. Many times, when I went to the market, I faced different forms of discrimination such as price fixing of timber, difficulties to find transportation and long bureaucratic processes to be allowed to sell timber. Some of the men made fun of me saying “how can a woman do all these things?”

But I succeeded in contacting the timber traders and the forest office for the necessary legal documents and I sold my timber! So, I feel that I am leading my family and that I have become independent on the basis of my family forest!” Laxmi showed the local men what women are capable of and hopefully this contributes to a more respectful attitude towards women in the village.


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Climate change and women When asked if she thinks women have a special role to play in relation to climate change, Laxmi answers without hesitation: “Yes absolutely. Women from rural households rarely go to foreign countries for employment.

They are engaged in household chores like collecting fodder for livestock, collecting firewood, and fetching water, along with other agricultural activities. Such activities have helped women to gain more knowledge about the ideal time of planting trees and how to protect the forest and the agricultural land. So, I believe women can play a significant role in alleviating climate change. “

This argument also means that Laxmi sees gender issues as vital in developing the forest sector: “Women are engaged as famers, primary forest users, entrepreneurs, business persons, facilitators, researchers, academics, facilitators and more. It is most essential to consider gender issues in the development of the forest. Women have different needs and experiences for conducting daily life in Nepal,” Laxmi concludes.

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NEPAL

I am Proud of Being a Female Forester in Nepal NAME

Lilu Magar

AGE

38 years

EDUCATION

Master in Forestry

JOB

Assistant Professor, Agriculture and Forestry University (AFU)

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NEPAL

How is it for you to be a woman in the forestry sector? In my childhood days, I used to see my mother, grandmother and other women bring forest products from the nearby forest. Since then, I perceived the forest a part of our lives. For me, to be a woman in this sector makes me feel that I am breaking the stereotype that a woman can’t do a tough job.

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How are women represented in the sector in your country? When I got my entrance exam for the forestry college, there was a 10% reservation provision for women and there were fewer female students compared to male students. Today, female students make up almost 50% of all students at forestry institutes and universities. In the field, the representation of women is increasing in planning, implementation and monitoring. According to the government’s community forest directive, there have to be at least 50% women in the Community Forest User Groups, and it has become mandatory that the 1st and 2nd post in the management committee should be women.

Thus, the active engagement of women in forest development has increased, but regardless of this, the majority of decisions are still very influenced by male members. Also, the higher up in the forestry sector you look, the less women you see. On the policy level, there are very few. Women have to join their voices and speak loudly to make decisions in favor of women.


#womensustain NEPAL

Do you think you have different motives, goals, skills and practices than your male colleagues? The lens of the eye is different for women and men. The men can’t see what I see. I can feel the discrimination and harassment women face during different stages of experiences, in college, in the village, in the office or other places. I don’t think male colleagues feel that. Their general behavior and the way they speak is also sometimes making me feel shy and uneasy.

Have you faced any form of discrimination tied to your status or your work? I have been doubted in my abilities just because I am a woman and because I belong to an ethnic community. Some have taunted me, saying that I got the job because of social inclusion provisions to include females from indigenous communities. However, I know that I am capable, experienced and qualified. When I was breastfeeding my baby, my male director gave me a hard time, saying, that I was not giving my best because I had kept my baby with me, which was totally wrong. So, I feel that I have faced discrimination several times.

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NEPAL

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Do you think that women have different competences that can make changes in beating climate changes and secure sustainable forests? Women have their strong networks and commitments around their locality, for example mother’s groups and women cooperatives. Women have important practical experience and local knowledge in ethno-botany. This knowledge can help secure sustainable forests and beat climate change.

Can you share with us an interesting story or experience that you have heard or experienced, and that is related to women in forestry? In 2010, I visited a forest user group in a village called Judibela, where the forest management committee was comprised of women. In Judibela, the villagers successfully claimed government support for the restoration of 30ha of forest land which had been flooded and filled with sand and gravel siltation.

The District Soil Conservation Office supported the group with bioengineering practices and UNDP provided social mobilization and financial support. I was impressed with the women of that village who played an important role for sustainable forest management.

I am proud to be a female forester in Nepal. I learned many things form my field when I was a student, as a development worker and now as a professor. I work alongside my male colleagues for the betterment of the local communities through forest conservation and management.

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NEPAL

Working for a More Gender Sensitive Forestry Sector NAME

Saraswati Aryal

AGE

32 years

EDUCATION

Master in Forestry

JOB

Assistant Forest Officer, Ministry of Forest and Environment in Nepal

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NEPAL

Saraswati is 32 years old and works as an Assistant Forest Officer with the Ministry of Forest and Environment in Nepal. She has worked in the forest sector for 10 years. She was born and brought up in a rural area 500 km from Kathmandu. From her early childhood, she saw how her family was dependent on the forest for fodder, firewood and timber. “I used to go with my mother to search for firewood in the nearby forest. I still remember my father cutting down the pine we had on our property for timber, to use for building our house,” Saraswati recalls. From her childhood village, Saraswati got the love of nature and forests and this made her decide to get a forestry college education and join a profession that is still largely dominated by men.

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Saraswati’s job is to advise so-called Community Forest User Groups, groups of local villagers who apply and get formal rights to use state forest areas and who are responsible for managing the assigned forest area sustainably.

Saraswati feels that she has an extra advantage in dealing with the groups compared to her male colleagues: “Being a woman, I can understand the issues of the marginalized groups. I try to really listen to what the community people are saying and to understand their She also advises local private perspective in forestry.” She forest owners. feels that her male colleagues are often too used to being privileged and that this makes them less eager to understand the local people who are often from underprivileged groups. The effect is that most of her male colleagues resort to “business as usual.”


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“One of the everyday situations where male and female forest officers are treated differently is that people refer to female forestry professionals as sisters and say they are like family members but to male colleagues they use respectful words like ”sir” and ”sahib.” It may seem innocent, but being a professional, anyone would like to be recognized and respected for their skills and knowledge.”

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NEPAL

A man with a moustache According to Saraswati, gender-based discrimination exists everywhere in the forest sector in Nepal. “I have faced many different forms of harassment since I became a student at the Institute of Forestry. From being not recognized for my profession, to not being trusted for my work and being verbally abused. And sadly, it continues,” Sarawati explains. She emphasizes that there are actually several legal provisions that give opportunities for women in the forestry sector, but she feels that the implementation of the laws is lacking. Among other things because the culture still favors men.

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Saraswati believes that to make a change, there should be more women in the decision making levels of the sector: “Women are the primary users of the forest, but they are not very well represented in the decision making positions in the forestry sector, neither in government services, nor in local NGOs, international NGOs or civil society. There are more female foresters in junior positions, but we have only two women who work in the Ministry of Forests and Environment. Similarly, the number of women in the Community Forest User Group committees who make decisions about the forest is increasing, but still the numbers are far from equal. In relation to private forestry, the problem is that the land is hardly ever registered in the name of the woman, which means that she cannot make decisions without the consent of a male counterpart. So, women are well represented in the sector at large but representation in decision making positions is still lacking,” she explains.

Saraswati recalls a specific incident that illustrates the classical view of what a District Forest Officer (DFO) should be like. She was in the field with one of the very few female DFOs – a highly respected title among the local community: ”We were visiting one of the communities and on our second visit, one of the male members who had not participated on the first day stood in front of the female DFO and me, telling us that he was very thankful that the DFO had visited the community yesterday. He was completely unaware that the lady who was in front of him was in fact the DFO he was talking about! When he found out, he was like, ’I had never expected a lady DFO...’ His image for a chief officer was a tall male with a moustache”.


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”As a female forester working for the government, it is my duty to try to implement gender friendly policy formulation and inclusive gender friendly actions in the field.”

Climate change and women A better gender balance is not only going to benefit the women. According to Saraswati, women in Nepal have a better understanding of the forest: ”Women are the ones who are most vulnerable to climate change, and they are the primary care takers and users of forest resources. Women have the local knowledge about forests, water sources, agriculture, livestock and soil quality for cultivation of crops.

They know the rotation period of species and wood quality for proper utilization. So, having women included at the decision making level to implement different activities in the field, they will for sure have different competencies in beating climate change and secure sustainable forests,” she explains.

To Saraswati, gender balance is indispensable for the development of the forest sector. “We have moved out from our household premises and have started working and earning. We have our dreams, our career, and a plan for our future. How can we even imagine developing the sector if there is no understanding our issues?”

They have the knowledge of forest species selection for plantation, harvesting of fodder, timber and other forest products.

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BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

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BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Forests are Life NAME

Danica Cigelj

AGE

61 years

EDUCATION

Master in Forestry

JOB

Assistant Minister of Forestry and Hunting, Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

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BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Danica Cigelj was born in 1959 in Kreševo, a small town approximately 30 km from Sarajevo. She graduated from the Forestry Vocational School, after which she enrolled and graduated from the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Sarajevo.

She holds a master’s degree from the Faculty of Forestry in Sarajevo, Department of Ecology. She started her professional career in the Forestry Enterprise in Kreševo. Here, she gained concrete hands-on experience in forestry and was involved in all stages of production, from marking trees, doing field work for the preparation of forest production plans, to implementing and overseeing the execution of silviculture plans. She advanced in her career to become the Manager of the Forestry Management Unit.

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Hands-On Manager When she was Manager, one of her main tasks, as prescribed by the Law on Forests from 2002, was to merge the Bosniak and Croatian forestry enterprises into one, in a very short time and to establish production as soon as possible – she executed her work without any problems. Many of her colleagues, both forestry engineers as well as forestry workers, were amazed at how she managed it, probably thinking – she is a woman and can do this?

They saw her, in the field, in the woods, in the freezing winter, they were amazed because none of her predecessors, who were all male, ever wanted to go to the forest. Instead they just sent their deputies. She still wonders how her colleagues in this sector can manage to do their work from the office only, and how they are not interested in the situation in the field as well.

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BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Gender Balance is Important Today, she is the Assistant Minister of Forestry and Hunting at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Danica states that: “she feels that she had to work harder, both physically and mentally, to advance in her career to the position of Assistant Minister, regardless of her competences.”

In her view, “the issue of gender is important, not only for the forestry sector but also for the development of the entire society.

“Being a woman in the forestry sector means that you have to know and work ten times harder, and still, we as women are not perceived as good as our male colleagues,” Danica states. In her country, no special importance is given to women in the forestry sector. When she started to work in 1984, it was very unusual to have a woman in forestry.

The big disadvantage is that we women do not lobby for each other; we do not vote for women; we are not in decisionmaking positions.

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In her opinion, “women are more responsible, more diligent, more capable and have more knowledge and willingness to persevere in the fight for the common good.

The country, and certainly in the forestry sector, would be much better if we could have greater gender balance and greater influence of women.”


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Fighting for a Legal Framework She notes that her whole life is connected to the forest and forestry and she says: “The forest is life.” Her most important internal mission is to legally regulate forest resources at the federal level through the Federal Law on Forestry, which has not been in place for the past 11 years. Equally important for her is to leave behind wealthier forest resources for generations to come. In her opinion, this is achievable only with good laws and a legislative framework that can guarantee responsible and sustainable forest management.

She thinks that the forestry sector is not given the significance it deserves, when considering that forest resources are one of the most important natural resources in the country. “The sector is left to itself, for example, there are individuals and groups that are getting enormously rich, while forest resources are being depleted,” she says.

Despite superhuman efforts of her and her colleagues in the Ministry to try to regulate the sector, unfortunately they are in a situation where some groups and individuals are “stronger” than the state and it is in their interest that the federal law is not passed.

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Every Forest Owner Should be Proud NAME

Ljiljana Čavara

AGE

55 years

EDUCATION

University Degree in Law

JOB

Secretary of the Municipality of Busovača

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BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA Please present yourself and tell a little bit about your background and your relation to the forest. I am Ljiljana Čavara, a graduate in Law and an employee of the Municipality of Busovača. I learned about the forests and the importance of forestry from my closest family members, because both my husband and son are forestry engineers and hunters. They strengthened my knowledge and deepened my understating of the importance of forests and forest lands. I am also aware of the importance of forests through my job as the secretary of the Municipality of Busovača and I am familiar with the regulations governing forest management and administration.

”Every private forest owner, regardless of gender, should be proud and should know that forests are very important to all of us!”

Can you describe your forest and how you use it? I inherited the forest from my father, and I know it is a dominantly deciduous forest. The area of the forest is somewhere around 0.4 ha, and I mostly use my forest for getting

How is it for you to be a female forest owner? As we know that forests are very important to people, both for our environment and our health and life support, as a private forest owner, I am very proud to have a forest that contributes to the improvement of our environment.

firewood. Every private forest owner should be proud and should know that forests are very important to all of us.

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#womensustain Are your skills and the way you do things different from other male forest owners? Since it is a private forest, each private forest owner grows and uses his forest in his own way. So, almost all private forest owners experience their forest personally and emotionally. I don’t think there are big differences in terms of growing private forests when it comes to different genders.

Have you faced any form of discrimination tied to your status, ownership or your work related to your forest? I had never faced any form of discrimination to date.

Have you experienced that other women have been discriminated against? I did not get that impression and I think there is no discrimination in the forestry sector.

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BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

”There is no big differences in terms of motives and goals for growing private forests when it comes to different genders.” How do you relate to climate change? Do you think women have different competencies to beat climate The issue of climate change is a global problem. I think that women do not have different competencies than men when it comes to climate change, but I believe that together we can contribute to improving the conditions of forests.

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In general, do you consider gender issues important for the further development of the forest? I do not think that the issue of gender is important for the further development of forests and forestry.

Could you please share a story or experience that you have had yourself or hear about from others related to the topic “women in the forest”? Coincidentally, I know that there are six highly educated women, forestry and horticultural engineers, working in the Busovača Forest Nursery, and that they run the nursery (without male colleagues). This is one of the indicators that women are not discriminated against in forestry and that they can take forest protection activities if they wish.


#womensustain

�I believe that together we can contribute to improving the condition of forests globally.�

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BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

If you Stand Out as the Only Female Forester, Use it to be Heard NAME

Elmedina Krilašević

AGE

39 years

EDUCATION

Master’s Degree in Forest Policy and Economics. Fulbright Scholar at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

JOB

Senior Program Officer, Forest Conservation Program, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

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BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Elmedina tells her story There are two sides to my relationship with forests. The first one is a professional connection.

Communities more broadly depend on forests for clean air and water and protection from natural disasters.

We know that we all depend on forest ecosystems and the services they provide. Forest dependent people rely on forests for shelter and food, and their daily survival.

And we as a global community look at nature and forests for solutions to the global environmental crises such as climate change and biodiversity loss, while also wishing to promote sustainable and green development. I utilize this particular understanding of the importance of forests to human health, livelihoods, and wellbeing every day to come up with solutions and influence governments’ and private sectors’ behavior to adequately utilize forest resources.

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The second connection with forests is a personal one. Although my workdays are mostly spent in the office or travelling (pre-COVID), where I sometimes end up in the forest, I go back to the forest in my free time to seek peace, inspiration, and adventure whenever I can. Nothing can ever make us feel more connected to life than experiencing all kinds of forests. Forests are majestic! This may sound a bit nerdy, but my tree and plant species guessing game while hiking through the forest brings me great pleasure. That being said, we need to always recognize the connectivity of nature and regard forests through its broader landscape and connections with other types of ecosystems.


#womensustain

Focus on Global Forestry I work on forestry and forest conservation issues all around the globe. Starting from my home country, Bosnia, to the Western Balkans region, and then to Latin America, East Africa, and some parts of Asia. For most of my career, I have worked in multidisciplinary teams. On some occasions, I am the only forester in the room. Then again, sometimes I am the only woman in a group of foresters. Having both affiliations is an interesting experience. At the beginning of my career, I felt that I was “sticking out” more because of it. I decided to see this as a good thing: If you have more eyes on you, use it to be heard, and add value.

For the most part, the forestry profession has been traditionally dominated by men in most places and geographical areas where I have worked. This trend has been changing in recent decades, however, at varying speeds. The forestry profession has been evolving more rapidly. More and more evidence shows that openness to other sectors brings progress to face the contemporary challenges of managing forest resources with changing societal demands on them.

Additionally, there are many different ways a woman with a forestry background can add value to forest-related issues while working in what is traditionally considered the forestry sector. They work in public, non-profit, and private organizations and at various levels, as policymakers, scientists, managers, communicators. I would even go as far as to say that the level of forest sector development correlates to women’s participation in the sector.

Women, and young women, in particular, powered by multidisciplinary education, and various technological developments all around the world have become more involved and have been taking the stage in this sector.

”I see my role in ensuring that both women and men contribute to the sector, encourage women colleagues, and learn and support each other.” 71


BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Same treatment is not equal treatment I don’t think that women and men differ in terms of motives, goals, skills and practices in the forestry sector. Women and men are not binary categories. We all come in ranges, and, as people, we can have a similar or different set of skills and motivations. Importantly, we may need a different kind of support to achieve our similar goals – motherhood and raising children are good examples. This is why it’s vital to support our women colleagues appropriately. Just because women might be treated the same, that does not mean they are being treated equally. Further, I do not think that women have different competencies. But, importantly, we need 100% of us, both men and women, fully employed and challenged to respond to the magnitude of issues facing our forests and our society from climate change and the poverty crisis.

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Sisterhood to gain equality If you ask me if I have been confused as somebody’s assistant or secretary instead of being a supervisor, asked to take notes in a meeting by a male colleague, or heard that my idea was brilliant only after a male colleague repeated it, then I would say yes! However, I’m sure that many women, including those reading this right now, can relate.

This is not inherent to the forestry sector only. There are still so many obstacles that women face in the professional world, and they are more felt the higher women aim with their professional careers. This is the reason why sisterhood is meaningful. That women support each other, mentor other women, and always keep the pressure on for a better and more just society for both our girls and our boys.

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BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

“For the most part, the forestry profession has been traditionally dominated by men in most places and geographical areas where I have worked. This trend has been changing in recent decades, however, at varying speeds. The forestry profession has been evolving more rapidly. More and more evidence shows that openness to other sectors brings progress to face the contemporary challenges of managing forest resources with changing societal demands on them. Women, and young women, in particular, powered by multidisciplinary education, and various technological developments all around the world have become more involved and have been taking the stage in this sector.�

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#womensustain

Focus on Global Forestry I work on forestry and forest conservation issues all around the globe. Starting from my home country, Bosnia, to the Western Balkans region, and then to Latin America, East Africa, and some parts of Asia. For most of my career, I have worked in multidisciplinary teams. On some occasions, I am the only forester in the room. Then again, sometimes I am the only woman in a group of foresters. Having both affiliations is an interesting experience. At the beginning of my career, I felt that I was “sticking out” more because of it. I decided to see this as a good thing: If you have more eyes on you, use it to be heard, and add value.

For the most part, the forestry profession has been traditionally dominated by men in most places and geographical areas where I have worked. This trend has been changing in recent decades, however, at varying speeds. The forestry profession has been evolving more rapidly. More and more evidence shows that openness to other sectors brings progress to face the contemporary challenges of managing forest resources with changing societal demands on them.

Additionally, there are many different ways a woman with a forestry background can add value to forest-related issues while working in what is traditionally considered the forestry sector. They work in public, non-profit, and private organizations and at various levels, as policymakers, scientists, managers, communicators. I would even go as far as to say that the level of forest sector development correlates to women’s participation in the sector.

Women, and young women, in particular, powered by multidisciplinary education, and various technological developments all around the world have become more involved and have been taking the stage in this sector.

”Just because women might be treated the same, that does not mean they are being treated equally.” 75


DENMARK

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DENMARK

For Many Women, Forestry is not Seen as an Option NAME

Tanja Sparrewath Hansen

AGE

29 years

EDUCATION

Forest and landscape engineer, Forestry School, University of Copenhagen

JOB

Forester, Danish Forestry Extension Central Jutland 78


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DENMARK

Tanja Sparrewath Hansen is 29 years old and works as a forester at Danish Forestry Extension in one of the five local forestry association offices located in the middle of Jutland.

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“My background is not typical for a forester; I did not grow up in the countryside. But the Forest and Landscape Engineer education sounded interesting. I found it appealing because it offered a great variation and because it was based on class teaching and outdoor teaching and not on lectures,” Tanja explains. Tanja’s husband is also a forester and works for one of the other local offices at Danish Forestry Extension.

Tanja started working for Danish Forestry Extension as an intern, as part of her four year education and she became really fond of the job: “It is quite nerdy to get really emersed into the subject of how the forest works and no two work days look the same. We advise people based on their interest in their own private forest. One person might wish to use his forest for production, another sees his forest as his pension fund, and yet another wants to use the forest for hunting, which means that we need to clear some areas for hunting trails. Members have different wishes and we collaborate with them on that.”


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The only female forester In Tanja’s office, there are only male foresters and when she began her work she imagined that she would have to prove herself that she was as good as the men, but that was fortunately not the case. “The main focus is what I can offer as a professional forester based on my education, not as a woman. I have sometimes met surprised looks from my colleagues and from private forest owners as to how I ended up here.

Tanja met a similar attitude when she was studying: “The main focus was on how good you are at the subject matter. I was not one of the best, I might as well admit that, but that was the focus and not that I was a woman. As a point of departure, I was equal to everyone else, I was not seen as different just for being female,” Tanja reflects.

But when I tell them that I am here because of my interest in nature and people, most of them can easily relate to that, and then they don’t ask any more questions,” Tanja says.

”I don’t think I have met a woman who went out alone to buy land that included a forest out of their own personal interest.”

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DENMARK

Women don’t talk about Christmas trees Tanja mostly works in the Christmas tree production and both here, and in the forest sector in general, she experiences that the vast majority are men. “We live a bit in the old times, where the man’s job was to look after the forest. We do have female members with an interest in forestry, but in my experience most times they have inherited the land, or they are widows taking over from their late husband. I don’t think I have met a woman who went out alone to buy land that included a forest out of their own interest,” Tanja explains and continues: ”Women don’t talk about growing Christmas trees. They don’t have friends who have forests, so therefore it is not a topic which is discussed in female circles, and for this reason I don’t think women ever think about having a forest or even see it as a possibility.”

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Tanja would like to be part of showing other women that the forestry sector could be a place for them. “I think it is a pity, if they just reject the thought, because it is a typical male profession and male dominated, that they let themselves be limited by this. I feel it is my duty to say “it isn’t like that at all.” According to Tanja, nowadays, there are a lot of women studying forest and landscape engineering, but most of them choose the branch called Open Landscapes and Nature Management, not traditional forestry. “I remember when I had to make the choice between the nature subjects and forestry.

Forestry sparked an interest in me that I didn’t know I had. It was something I just had to investigate, even if I was different from the others in my class,” Tanja smiles: ”It is easy to imagine that nature subjects are softer topics, but in reality I don’t think they are. The demands are the same in both subjects.” On the job, Tanja does not see herself as having a different approach or way of doing things just because she is a woman: “It is more the individual personality related abilities that are different. We are different as individuals, not by gender. We actually work a lot with personality profiles at my work, that is how we create work groups, instead of considering the gender distribution in the group.”


#womensustain

“We are different as individuals, not by gender. We actually work a lot with personality profiles at my work, that is how we create work groups, instead of considering the gender distribution in the group.�

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DENMARK

Women and the Climate It is obviously important as a forester to consider climate and climate change, and in this area Tanja also does not feel that gender plays a major role: “I don’t think that there is a difference between how men and women work with climate, not where I am. We are more influenced by our educational background and our job, and that is the point of departure when we discuss the topic with the private forest owners. I base my opinion on where I come from educationwise and where I grew up.”

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Also, the vision about sustainability that Tanja’s workplace holds plays a role in the way she approaches climate change: ”At Danish Forestry Extension, we advocate that we use the forest in the fight against climate change, without having to convert it all to undisturbed forests. Some forest areas can be designated as undisturbed forests but for the majority we have to find a balance. I experience that my male colleagues and I agree to a large extent.”

In relation to the need to incorporate gender in the development of the forest sector in the future, Tanja believes that it would be constructive to incorporate the two sexes better, but she does not see this as a necessity. However, she would welcome a forum for forest professionals that cuts across the public sector, that has more women, and the almost entirely male dominated private sector ”private and public sector work differently with the forest, so it is important for the future of forestry that we gain insight into each other’s approaches and ways to see the forest.”


#womensustain

“Women don’t have friends who have forests, so it is not a topic which is discussed in female circles.�

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DENMARK

The Second Woman in Denmark to Become Forest Supervisor NAME

Inge Gillesberg

AGE

61 years

EDUCATION Master in Forestry

JOB

Forest Supervisor at the Nature Agency, Southern Jutland 86


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DENMARK

Please present yourself and tell a little bit about your background and your relation to the forest. My name is Inge Gillesberg, I am 61 years old. I am a Forest Supervisor at the Danish Nature Agency. I got my Master’s in Forestry in 1985. I was a forester in the State’s Forestry Research Center and the private forestry management company called Hedeselskabet before I got a job at the Nature Agency as a forester. In 1997, I was promoted to Forest Supervisor. I became the second woman to ever become Forest Supervisor in Denmark. I was born and raised in Frederiksberg and I have many times been asked how I decided to study forestry. I think, it was a mix of curiosity and spite. Curiosity because I liked to be in nature but didn’t know much about the science behind nature. Spite because to study forestry wasn’t an obvious choice for a girl from the city.

How is it for you to be a woman in the forestry sector? I can only recommend it to others. I have had exciting jobs with many challenges and big variations. I have always felt comfortable in the sector. I was always aware that I was different from the average and I have always been okay with that. There has been times when I had to stand my ground and point out that it was me who was the professional; but over the years, it’s become more seldom. I have also experienced that I had to make an extra effort but here I have probably been my own worst enemy!

How are women represented in the sector in your country? Well, after my colleague who worked in Thy retired two years ago, there are now only two female forest supervisors in the Nature Agency. Fortunately, we have gotten more female employees, but there is a long way to an equal distribution between men and women.

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How would you describe the forestry sector in the area where you are working? The forestry sector is relatively small in Denmark. Over the years, there have been several paradigm shifts, especially relating to state forests. The shift has been from forests focused on wood production, to a gradually bigger and bigger opening of forests for recreational purposes, to the current major focus on biodiversity in forests and the designation of forest areas to become undisturbed forests.

How do you see your role, as a woman in the sector? I don’t feel that I have a special role as a woman. I have a role to play in showing that it is a sector that appeals to both women and men. And I will be happy if I can be a kind of role model.


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Do you think you have different motives, goals, skills and practices than your male colleagues? I do not think there is a distinction between genders, it’s more about different personalities. I am an outgoing person who likes to engage in dialogue with citizens and users of the Danish Nature Agency’s areas. I really appreciate the versatility of the day-to-day management of the state’s forests and areas.

Do you think women have different competencies to beat climate change and secure sustainable forests than men? If we are to generalize based on gender, I believe that women are willing to make greater economic sacrifices to counteract the consequences of climate change.

Can you describe, in general terms, the status of women in the sector and how they are viewed? In my experience there is respect for women in the forestry sector; but there is still work to be done to make women see themselves as part of the sector.

Have you faced any form of discrimination tied to your status or your work? I will not say that I have encountered discrimination; but, and especially in my earlier years, there were some who were surprised by a female forester.

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DENMARK

A Female Forest Owner with a Forest Garden NAME

Pia Willumsen

AGE

54 years

EDUCATION Chemical Engineering

JOB

Owner of Gurre Forest Garden

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DENMARK

Pia Willumsen is 54 years old and lives in a small village in the north-eastern corner of Denmark.

When she and her husband bought their house 20 years ago with a total of 5 ha. land, it came with a grown out noble fir plantation that used to be harvested for ornamental greens. She instantly became a forest owner of tall, impressive, 30-year-old noble firs. “Trees have always fascinated me, the big old trees, the fact that they have been here for so long and the young ones, that become big out of nothing,� Pia says.

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For many years she and her husband had full time jobs in engineering, and a family to raise, so the plantation was left as it was. Sometimes they’d fell a tree here and there for firewood.


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From plantation to high diversity The plantation was getting very old and the trees had begun to be uprooted during bigger storms.

Being a member of Danish Forestry Extension, she got professional help on how to fell and market her trees.

So, when the market became favorable, after many years of bad market conditions to sell noble fir, she decided to fell most of the tree plantation and do something new with her forest land.

She decided to plant a forest garden, which is a diverse and climate resilient planting system: “We planted with high biodiversity, with berries, fruit and nut trees, imitating a growing forest. We have 30 different species and 130 varieties. Almost 3 ha. are planted and there is a 1 ha. area for free range chickens.�

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DENMARK

Positive experiences as a forestry association member As a female forest owner, using the services of a maledominated forestry sector, Pia has only had positive experiences. She smiles and says: “Maybe male foresters laughed at me when I turned my back. I have for sure said some funny things, but that’s not because I am a woman, but because I am not a trained forester. I have only met inspiration and help and equality from Danish Forestry Extension.”

Pia doesn’t know any women that own a forest: “It’s mainly couples and it’s often the husband that takes charge. In reality, I think, this is because of history and tradition.”

Some of her past experiences Pia finds very useful is the ability to read laws and policies and find pragmatic solutions, or as she expresses it, “to challenge the law pragmatically.”

Pia has always been interested in forests: “In ninth grade, I had an internship as a forester,” she tells. Afterwards, she chose to study engineering. She has held various managerial positions before she came back to the forest with many job experiences under her belt: “I feel that I started (the forest garden, red.) at exactly the right time in my own career path.

Because she is cultivating a forest garden, this is a category of land use that is neither recognized as agriculture nor forestry, so she often has to be very persistent and explain a lot when trying to meet the requirements and regulations of different authorities.

Some things would of course be easier if I were 20 years younger, and I had fewer aches and pains all over so I could be more physically active, but then I would not have had all the experience, which makes it possible for me to manage everything myself,” she explains.

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Overall, Pia’s past career background means that she can do many of the things herself when it comes to running her forest garden as a business. She adds that knowledge sharing is important, and she is “good at picking up the phone to ask around.” She feels for people that are not able to do this, for example farmers, who are really good at cultivating the land but would need expensive consultants to help with complicated laws and regulations.


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Creative women and climate change Pia has no doubt in her mind that her forest garden with its big versatility is one part of the solution for the changing climate. “I believe that the way I have chosen to cultivate, which includes building up the soil’s humus layer is very important in relation to a climate strategy.”

It is necessary for Pia to get her diverse assortment of products and her business to become profitable, and this requires a strong vision and a creative approach, something for which Pia believes women may have a special talent: “It may be that you, as a woman, are not so physically strong, neither am I myself, and then you have to have someone to help you with the physical work, but I think we women, see many details and are very visionary and visual. This is maybe required to be able to plant in this very diverse way.”

According to Pia, women are more often part of projects for testing new methods. Even though think-ing in men and women categories doesn’t make sense to her, she believes that more women in tradi-tional forestry would be good counterplay to the men’s way of doing. “I believe it is an advantage that more women come in, a good male-female balance is essential for an optimal output, not only in forestry, but in all businesses. Women often come up with other ways of doing things than men do and perhaps women are also more open-minded for growing trees with additional perspectives.”

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#WomenSustain  

This publication is part of our international campaign “Women Sustain Forests - Sustainability Through Equality,” launched with help from t...

#WomenSustain  

This publication is part of our international campaign “Women Sustain Forests - Sustainability Through Equality,” launched with help from t...

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