Outcomes & Impacts

Gender Relations in Uganda

CIFOR’s gender research in Uganda has boosted women’s leadership and participation in forest user groups – and both men and women are reaping the benefits.

Despite government reforms in Uganda encouraging gender equity in resource management, women’s involvement lags behind that of men. The reasons are often socio-cultural: women’s tenure rights to forests are insecure and men dominate household decision making. Yet rural women rely on forests and their exclusion from decision making heightens their vulnerability, especially to emerging challenges related to climate change and global trade patterns.

CIFOR and its partners set out to explore ways to shift gender dynamics, targeting six forest user groups in Uganda. For the research, they trained participants in a method called Adaptive Collaborative Management, or ACM.

ACM helps communities to work collectively to identify, implement and monitor interventions designed to enhance the sustainable use and management of forests.

By the time the project ended in March 2013, women’s leadership in the groups had markedly increased — a precondition for boosting female participation.

“What we are doing is very innovative, because we are using an approach that aims to transform gender relations — and we are already seeing just how powerful the effects can be.”

Esther Mwangi, CIFOR Senior Scientist

Gender, Tenure and Community Forests



Countries studied

Uganda, Nicaragua

Funding partner

Austrian Development Agency (ADA)


To improve women’s tenure rights to forests through their increased participation in forest user groups with respect to both decision making and livelihood benefits.

Partners in Uganda

  • Makerere University, School of Forestry, Environment and Geographical Studies, Uganda
  • Association of Uganda Professional Women in Agriculture and the Environment

Benefits of sustained engagement

In October 2013, the project entered a second phase to scale up its work. CIFOR and its partners are applying the same training and similar methodologies but to officials, policymakers and practitioners in other parts of the country.



Adaptive Collaborative Management and gender relations





Groups trained in ACM experienced…

• confidence • interest • willingness to share ideas • active contribution • assertiveness • ability to seek out external assistance • planting their preferred tree species • allocation of forest land under collaborative forest management arrangements with the National Forestry Authority for tree planting


• coordination with forestry agencies, research organizations and NGOs • ability to access resources, fromtraining to seedlings
These benefits reflected both women’s and men’s preferences, suggesting that forest governance is most eective with gender balance.


• acceptance of women’s participation and leadership


For your information…

Research for gender equity

Gender is a cross-cutting theme in the CRP-FTA, which CIFOR leads. Throughout 2013, the program continued to attract attention for its rigor and innovation, throughout CGIAR and beyond.

Highlights in 2013 included a keynote address by CIFOR Senior Scientist Esther Mwangi, the introduction of the Gender Café, and a gender discussion forum at the Global Landscapes Forum.