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The Hidden Side Of Group Behaviour: A Gender Analysis Of Community Forestry Groups

Bina Agarwal

QEH Working Papers from Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford

Abstract: Communities managing common pool resources, such as forests, constitute a significant example of group unctioning. In recent years community forestry groups have mushroomed in South Asia. But how participative, equitable and efficient are they? In the short term, many have done well in regenerating degraded lands. Are they, however, performing at their best potential, and will they sustain? Equally, are the benefits and costs being shared equitably between rich and poor households and between women and men? The paper demonstrates that seemingly successful groups can cloak significant gender exclusions, inequities and inefficiencies. It argues that these outcomes can be traced especially to rules, norms, perceptions, and the personal and household endowments and attributes of those participating. Reducing the gender bias embedded in these factors would depend on women's bargaining power with the State, the community and the family. The paper outlines the likely determinants of women's bargaining power in these arenas, and analyses ground experience in terms of progress made and dilemmas encountered

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