FiWH Pre-Conference Day: Opening our Eyes to Gender Bias

On 9 April 2021, 29 students and young professionals from 17 countries joined the first Online IFSA Delegation since the outbreak of COVID-19 in view of the Forests in Women’s Hands Conference and participated in a Pre-Conference Day organised by IFSA. The day consisted of two workshops surrounding the topic of gender & forestry facilitated by Ika Darnhofer (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna – BOKU) and Elias Andersson (Swedish University of Agriculture – SLU).

The Pre-Conference Day opened with a discussion prepared by Ika Darnhofer from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, inquiring a simple, but impactful question: What does it mean being a man or being a woman? The discussion continued with a survey of topics that makes us think and rethink our own daily behaviors, showing their differences, implications and aspects tied to gender. In order to reflect on what was addressed by Ika Darnhofer, the participants from different parts of the world discussed in a group setting what gender bias was, relating it to their own experiences and possible mitigation actions.

The workshop also touched on important topics, such as gender-specific barriers. One example of these barriers is that society has different standards for men and women. When a woman expresses an opinion, she is often labeled as arrogant, while a man under the same circumstances might be praised for being confident. These dynamics are linked to the toxic masculinity which, sadly, keeps on passing from one generation to the next. Is that be a good inheritance or just a damaging load to burden?

Following the first workshop, Elias Andersson from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, held a presentation titled “Gendered structures, meanings & pathways in the forest”, where he approached the main differences of gender segregation within and outside of the forestry sector, as well as different types of gender equality measures.

Overall, the Pre-Conference Day was a huge success. The delegates witnessed an inspiring and insightful day and were delighted to connect with each other as the first online IFSA delegation since the pandemic hit. One of the delegates, Ali Baluee, reflected on the Pre-Conference Day: The approach of the Pre-Conference Day, where terms like stereotypes, masculinity, and its implications in the forestry sector were addressed, laid the groundwork for the discussion at the main conference. The exchange between the delegates and workshop facilitators was one of the Pre-Conference Day’s highlights.

Author: Haron Ferreira