Women and their Role in management & utilization of forest resources in
Garhwal hills areas. The forest and water are the most important factors in the
daily work and life of Hilly rural women and out of these forest are considered
most important, for women forest is their mother's home as they are
significantly dependent on the forest to meet daily needs such as water, fodder,
fuels minor forest produce etc.
It is primarily women who are the major gatherers of a wide range of Non Timber
forest products (NTFP) for subsistence and as a source of income.
Women are also actively contributing with men in forestry operations and play
important roles in forestry.
Gathering firewood or head loading as it is often called for domestic use as a
source of income is the most widespread gender based activity for poor women. It
is estimated that two to three million people are engaged in head loading with
the majority being tribal and other poor women in Garhwal hilly areas, it is
mainly women who manage loping and fodder collection. As many of these hilly
regions have a high degree of male migration.
The responsibility of agriculture and animal husbandry generally lies with
woman, gathering of fuel wood, fodder and NTFP's is an important subsistence and
economic activity for poor women, the relative status of women within the
family is higher in well forested villages & villages closer to natural forest
because their contribution to subsistence and cash incomes of householders is
greater, women particularly those who are poor depends heavily on common
resources for meeting their survival needs.
Women's role in agriculture has traditionally involves integrating forestry with
food production they have the knowledge of lopping cycles and practices to
maximizes fodder and leaf production moreover they know how lopping could be
used as a forest management strategy besides they also manage local fodder trees
growing on their farm lands through systematic pruning they procure maximum
fodder yield without damaging the growth of plants.
Women's role is significant in integrating agriculture with animal husbandry
women realize the contribution animals make to crop yield, women know which
leaves and grasses are best for fodder which can help mulch cattle and which
plants have veterinary uses, the role of women in livestock rearing is very
crucial, livestock rearing at the household level is largely a women led
activity and therefore income from within the household are primarily taken by
Rural women rely heavily on natural resources for the survival of their families
and shopping their livelihood.
The Garhwal Hill women's are also engaged in collection of medicinal plants and
various types of edible forest products for their own consumptions as well as
trade to earn valuable money.
It is increasingly being recognized that women can play a key role in natural
resources management as they have the knowledge and experience gained from
working closely with their environment and their analytical skills in their
community can play a vital role in developing forest resources in a sustainable
Mahila Mandals or village women's organizations existing at village levels
throughout the country has also played an important role in women empowerment
and uplifting their status.