Diversity and gender at FSC-certified forests

Diversity and Gender issues are among the responsible forest management priorities within the FSC scheme. FSC’s Global Strategy 2021-2025 makes the case to include both issues within the three main strategies, showing to what extent FSC takes this as a crucial aspect of its overall approach.

ForCes woman map
FSC GD / Christian Irrgang

Diversity as a cornerstone

Diversity reflects the visible and invisible differences that exist among people, including but not limited to gender identity, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or identity, age, economic class, language, religion, location, nationality, education, and family/marital status. These visible and invisible differences among people can also lead to differences in experiences, values, attitudes. For example, it can include how community or Indigenous Peoples rights are treated by different stakeholders, for example.

For FSC, Diversity is key cornerstone to ensure equality in our certification scheme and in our organization. It includes workers’ rights, Indigenous Peoples and local communities engagement and gender equality.

FSC has built approaches to promote equality in its certification scheme. Worker’s rights are the key component of Principle 2 of the FSC Principles and Criteria and FSC Core Labour requirements have been added to the Chain of Custody requirements. More information on this topic can be found here.

gender in fsc

Gender as part of FSC’s Diversity

Gender equality indicators have been part of FSC’s forest stewardship standards since 2012 with the introduction that year of a specific criterion on gender (C 2.2) in version 5 of the rules that govern how forest stewardship must be carried out according to FSC and known as the Principles and Criteria (P&C).

FSC’s strive to equality and human rights as embodied by the UN SDG Goal 5 on Gender Equality as a fundamental right, and ILO Conventions is the right to equal treatment within the workforce regardless of gender.

As an example, in FSC certified operations job opportunities shall be open to both women and men under the same conditions, and women are encouraged to participate actively in all levels of employment. Also, same wages are paid for the same work conducted by men or women, and certified operations shall encourage men to take paid paternity leave to support their families.

This translates in practice that FSC-certified forestry strives to provide gender and employment opportunities for women both within the concession and in forestry activities, with guaranteed equal rights and wages, therefore advancing in reaching the UN SDG Goal 5 on Gender Equality.

FSC also pays specific attention to gender in its staff composition. As of 2020, for example, 57% of the FSC workforce, attributed to staff not related to auditing nor certificate holders, was female, while the remaining 43% were male.

At FSC, a specific Task Force has been created to continue advancing on Diversity and Gender as  an ongoing process, advancing on the issue within FSC’s staff, its network partners and the National Forest Stewardship Standard development groups, ensuring that it is given its due acknowledgement.

FSC has also been acknowledged by ISEAL as a good examples of references to gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment in the content of specific ISEAL members’ standards documents in its Gender Working Group for Sustainability Standards report. 

Gender refers to roles, responsibilities, rights, relationships and identities of men and women that are defined or ascribed to them within an expected given society and context –and how these roles, responsibilities, rights and identities of men and women affect and influence each other. Therefore ‘gender’ refers to a set of qualities and behaviours from men and women by society. ‘Gender roles’ are socially determined and can change over time, since social values and norms are not static. These roles etc. are changeable over time, between places and within places. 

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SDG 05: Gender equality