Gender and forest product value chains in the Congo Basin

Publication Type: 
Volume: 
23
Number: 
1-2
Month/Season: 
Published On: 
2014

Activities and roles in value chains of forest products in the Congo Basin are highly gendered, varying with the product's characteristics, the segment of the chain and customary regulations and norms. High-value products are primarily male-harvested when customary rules govern tenure and access, enabling men to exert control. Whilst non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are important cash sources for both sexes, women tend to use more of their harvest for domestic consumption, while men sell a greater proportion. Interventions by research and development organisations, NGOs and projects have positively influenced women's incomes in some NTFP chains. Suggestions include supporting women's domesticating and cultivating NTFPs currently pressured by over-harvesting; recognising the informal, often invisible nature of value chains; addressing unfavourable customary norms restricting the possession of valuable species by women; revising bureaucratic trade regulations; improving value-adding opportunities and supporting collective action to access credit and increasing bargaining power.