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Bina Agarwal

In large parts of the world, the 1990s saw a major shift in state policy towards forest governance, from solely state management of forests to co-management with local communities. Rural communities, however, are far from homogeneous units. They are usually characterized by unequal power relations, predicated especially on class and gender. Hence community forest management groups, while ostensibly set up to involve and benefit all community members, can effectively exclude significant sections, in particular women. Based on the author’s field visits and interviews in the late 1990s in India and Nepal, this chapter examines the nature of gender (intersecting with class and caste) inequalities and social exclusions and the factors underlying them, which can restrict women’s effective participation in the group’s activities and decision-making. The chapter also traces the implications of such exclusions for equity of outcomes and institutional efficiency, and outlines how such constraints may be overcome and outcomes improved.

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Bina Agarwal, Martin Baily, Jean-Louis Beffa and Robert M. Solow