This political framework draws on the links between community forest management and gender justice. It presents our understanding of how the patriarchal system oppresses women specifically and exacerbates forms of structural violence that are already felt on their bodies and territories. Our approach takes elements from ecofeminism and from territorial community feminisms in the South. Women, their bodies and territories must be recognised, and spaces created for their effective political participation.
“Our struggle is growing stronger. Women, young people and sexual minorities are denied their rights, power-holders question our very existence. We defend life and biodiversity. Racism, colonialism and patriarchy are systems of oppression that we must combat in a comprehensive manner.”Sandra Morán, Guatemala, World March of Women.
Women play a central role in community forest management practices. Women have highly diversified knowledge of forests, focusing on forest products linked to family farming, food, firewood, foraging, improving soil fertility and conservation practices, as well as species used in the household and for health. Women also have specialised knowledge of trees and forests in terms of their species diversity. Women conceive of nature, biodiversity and knowledge in a holistic manner, within a territory that must be defended and preserved for the good of humanity as a whole.
“Framing community forest management with a feminist perspective allows us to see nature from other angles that are also implicit in caring for forests; to do so through emotions, sensibility, spiritual practice. It allows us to see ourselves again and recognise ourselves.”Theiva Lingam, Friends of the Earth Malaysia / Sahabat Alam Malaysia.
This Gender Justice and community forest management framework is a living document that must continue to be nourished by experiences and dialogues with Friends of the Earth International’s allied movements. This will enable us to identify common places that allow us to continue promoting and demanding the permanence of the defence of life and therefore forests and biodiversity. It also involves recognising feminist perspectives in line with Friends of the Earth International’s political vision – such as those of ecofeminism and territorial community feminism – that nourish these approaches. This will allow us to develop them further, as well as expose the tensions and power dynamics that exist within community forest management, which we need to dismantle as part of the transformation strategy. All of this in turn seeks to guarantee women’s right to full participation in the social, political and economic life of their communities, as well as their access to water, seeds and conditions for production and sale with autonomy and freedom, respecting the cycles of life.