The Department of Forestry says women and children should be empowered to take the leading role in managing forests in the country.
Through the Improved Forest Management for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme (IFMSLP), the department is working towards mainstreaming gender issues in forestry management.
Speaking this week when he opened a two-day workshop on the project at Chikho Hotel in Kasungu, deputy director of forestry Thomas Mankhambera said women and children are key players in sustainable forestry management.
“A lot of women are always used when planting trees but when it comes to harvesting the trees and its products it is men who greatly benefit. This is what we want to change,” said Mankhambera.
According to Mankhambera, the department is reviewing the Forestry Act of 1996 in which issues of gender are not clearly spelt out.
Technical advisor for the project Ramjee Nyirenda said the relationship between men and women affects the development of forests because they both play crucial roles in the production of seedlings and preventing deforestation.
“There is need for a clear definition of roles for a particular gender category in the forestry sector so that women, men and children benefit from the forests around the country,” said Nyirenda.
The IFMSLP operates in 12 districts of Chitipa, Karonga, Rumphi, Mzimba, Kasungu, Ntchisi, Dedza, Ntcheu, Zomba, Machinga, Chikhwawa and Nsanje.