Rather far reaching changes have taken place with respect to the positions and roles of men and women in European and North American societies at large. The forestry sector, by contrast, appears to have largely ignored this development and mostly remained "a man's world". There are both ethical and factual reasons why the forestry sector should acknowledge the various roles women play in and for the sector, seek to enhance their participation and create the equality of opportunities that many other sectors have come to take for granted.
Political will to foster change has been expressed. Equality of opportunity and treatment in employment as enshrined in international labour conventions has been recognized as a fundamental human right by all 174 member countries of the ILO in June 1998. In the same month, the Third Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe adopted Resolution L1 on "People, Forests and Forestry". In the sections of the resolution relating to women, the countries and the European Union undertake to strive to offer equal opportunity in employment, income, training and careers. They also commit themselves to recognise gender aspects in European forestry, to adapt education and training systems and programmes as well as to encourage studies on gender concerns.
While momentum and political will for change have been building up, there is a looming gap in information about the actual situation of women in forestry, as well as a lack of specific ideas and strategies for ways forward. Concerning their role in forestry, the seminar will contribute to filling the information gaps and to devising strategies at different levels from enterprise to sector wide. Specifically, participants will explore:
- what is the current extent and nature of the involvement of women in forestry
- why are women usually under-represented?
- what is the scope for increasing the share of women in the workforce and strengthening their participation in the sector at large?
- what opportunities and obstacles exist?
- what changes are desirable concerning women=s employment and their participation in decision making in forestry at all levels?
- how can these changes be achieved?