Gendered struggles for the Commons
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This paper explores the connections between women, deforestation and its negative effects of emissions. If women are the majority of subsistent farmers in Africa, and deforestation produces emissions to the atmosphere, what makes women cut down trees? Kenya's shift to cash crops such as coffee, tea, sugar, flowers and cotton, left little available land for food productions. Development policies encouraged these shifts but women's movements have been fighting for a food crop centered economy. Nobel Prize winner, Wangari Maathai and The Green Belt Movement have gathered support for tree planting and for the retention of indigenous seeds and cultivation techniques. These techniques are considered to improve soil fertility and slow desertification. Tree planting was the starting point to discuss issues such as: food security, awareness of the negative impacts of agricultural petrochemical-based systems on health and the environment, genetically modified seeds, civic education and voter registration. But the movement faced resistance from government and private interests who want the land available for industrial logging, mining, plantation agriculture, ranching, real estate development, manufacturing, and private 'game parks'. To answer the initial question it is not women who cut trees for food self-sufficiency who are the problem, but the commercial logging and large scale export oriented farming that destroy the local environments.