Women, men and trees: Gender, power and property in forest and agrarian landscapes
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Based on some case studies and on African literature review, the paper analyses the 'gendered nature' of resource use and access to trees and forests. 'Two-dimensional' maps are a limited representation of land rights and tree tenure due to complex overlapping rights. Legal rights and defacto rights can differ from control over resources, which are often tied with historical, social, and environmental constraints. The author proposes a multidimensional approach informed by the interaction between gender access, use, and control of resources. The article analyses the use of trees, and forest tenure in Africa from 3 angles: 1) rights to own land; 2) spaces and places where men and women use trees and forest resources and who exercises some control over management; and 3) differences in use of trees and their products. These factors can also vary according to season, periodic events, kin relationships and neighborliness reciprocity. There are many possible combinations within these factors. The case studies reveal some examples of this complexity. Land might be owned by a man, the woman might have access to some trees that she can only collect fuelwood and fruits, but only during the wet season. Often control belongs to the men, responsibility to provide products, and labor input belongs to the women. The multidimensional reality of gender use and access to land and trees must be considered by planning and technical support agencies.