An analysis of the participation of men and women in the water forest resources users groups: a case of Sinazongwe district from 2010-2014
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Since the 1995 Beijing women’s Conference there has been international recognition of the need for women’s participation in water and forest resources management. Zambia has introduced users groups to enable women and men to control these resources. The main objective of the study was to analyse the participation of men and women in water and forest resources users groups in Sinazongwe District from 2010 to 2014. A descriptive case study design was used. One hundred and twenty (120) household respondents (68 women and 52 men) who were randomly sampled answered a household questionnaire. Purposively selected for interview were fourteen (14) Primary School Head teachers, sixteen (16) Village Head persons, sixteen (16) Chairpersons of committees, one (1) Official from Sinazongwe District Council, one(1) World Vision Sinazongwe Area Development and one(1) Forest Department Officials . Three (3) FGDs were conducted with male and female committee members. The study found that livelihoods of local people depended on water and forest resources, more men than women attended meetings. However, although men predominated, some women also represented their households. On speaking in meetings men dominated while a minority of women also spoke though often they were not taken seriously. On roles, many women were elected as treasurers while a minority were also elected as chairpersons. Women maintained water point surroundings and planted Faidherbia abida in their fields of cultivation. Men repaired boreholes and protected water points by building wooden fences. Both policed water and forest resources. Various socioeconomic factors such as low level of education among women reinforced patriarchal subordination which undermined their participation. This study concluded that men played more prominent roles than women. However, women also had an influence as treasurers where they ensured safety of financial resources. A minority were chairpersons. Women needed to be empowered for their effectiveness.