Gender Equal Forest Rights: The Continuing Void between Policy and Practice

July 18, 2018
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Madhu Sarin’s talk will present a deconstruction of India’s official forest estate (comprising about 23 per cent of the country’s area). She will also talk about the movement that culminated in the enactment of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006. Although the FRA is among the first laws to integrate gender equality in the recognition of rights and representation in decision-making, implementation of those provisions remains a challenge due to patriarchal attitudes and values within government agencies as well as community institutions. New forest related policies and laws continue to be gender blind while also violating statutory forest rights with impunity. The ongoing grass roots struggles for democratization of forest governance need to be accompanied by challenging the archaic and unaccountable structures of the forestry establishment created for meeting colonial needs – structures that do not address the rights of the forests or the people who depend on these forests.

About the Speaker

Madhu Sarin is a fellow of the Rights and Resources Initiative. She was a member of the Technical Support Group constituted by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs which drafted the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and remains actively involved with the Campaign for Survival and Dignity, which mobilizes communities for claiming and asserting their rights under the Act. Combining grass roots work with policy analysis and advocacy, her primary focus for over 3.5 decades has been on gender and equity sensitive community empowerment and democratizing natural resource governance. Beginning with participatory natural resource management in Sukhomajri village in Haryana in the early 80s, she has worked on facilitating regeneration of village common lands by communities with equal participation of women in four states. She switched focus to forest tenure reform and statutory devolution of power and authority for forest governance, working against the illegal appropriation of customary lands as state forests.

Madhu Sarin has written two books, Urban Planning in the Third World, and Joint Forest Management, the Haryana Experience. She has also published a large number of articles nationally and internationally.


July 18, 2018
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