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Gwen Sissiou 

Gwen Sissiou, General Manager of REDD+ and Mitigation at the Climate Change and Development Authority in Papua New Guinea.

 

What drives you to work for forests and land use issues?

I lead coordination of the REDD+ initiative and my role is to get national stakeholders to collaborate in development of policy guidance for REDD+ implementation. I also pursue opportunities for technical and financial support for REDD+.

I am proud of the fact that we have improved collaboration with national stakeholders in the forestry sector and assisted in bringing in support to improve the forest monitoring capability of the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

 

Why are forests important to you from your perspective as a woman?

Forests are important in PNG because women spend a good part of their daily lives interacting with forest ecosystems. They maintain gardens, grow food and cash crops, forage and gather fuelwood and water from forest lands. They use the forest to source building material, medicinal remedies and more.

Our forests are more important for long-term livelihood support than as a potential large-scale extractive resource for revenue generation. However, in PNG forests are the main source of economic development; therefore, effective land use planning is very important while community involvement in decision making is paramount.

 

How can we ensure that there is more participation and leadership taken by women in forests and land use issues?

PNG society is generally male-dominated and so is the forestry sector. Even though there are more women being formally trained and work in the forestry sector, they are within the government and or with the industry and thus their influence is limited.

Women in communities and villages have their traditional roles and place in the community, and are provided an opportunity to express their views; however, decision making is still dominated by men. Having more forest-based livelihood projects and providing support specific for women, which includes training and education in community forest management, can be a driver of change in improving the participation of women in forestry. Since women's views are likely to be dominated by men; therefore, providing opportunities to demonstrate that women can manage the forest more efficiently is important. This can be achieved by providing targeted technical and financial support for women.

 

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