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South Africa: Deputy Minister Makhotso Sotyu Highlights Role of Women in Forestry During Webinar

ALLAFRICA / 30 AUGUST 2020 - 16.11 / STAFF REPORTER

Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries highlights role of women in forestry during webinar

The Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Makhotso Sotyu, on Friday, 28 August 2020, encouraged women, particularly young girls, to take up careers in the forestry sector.

Ms Sotyu was speaking during a webinar convened to celebrate and acknowledge the progress made in the last two decades regarding women entering the forestry industry.

The webinar was part of the forestry sector's Women's Month celebrations.

Ms Sotyu said young women needed to prepare and take up opportunities offered in the sector, including senior positions, starting own businesses, board participation, schooling and higher education.

The objectives of the webinar, she said, related well to the B-BBEE programme in the Amended Forest Sector Codes which have set target for inclusive participation including women.

The discussion was focussed on creating representation of Women in Forestry. As part of this campaign, work will be done to improve the state of rural schools in forestry areas, particularly the worst performing schools. Aid will be offered to girl children to make their school lives easier.

The Deputy Minister pointed out that the experiences of women in relation to forestry have been markedly different from those of their male counterparts, making gender issues pertinent to forestry.

"Some of the issues women are confronted with relate directly to the manner in which forestry is defined," said Ms Sotyu.

While forestry can be defined beyond the limits of timber extraction, it is often equated with logging which has historically been considered as so-called men's work.

"Such a characterisation not only shuts women out of jobs they are willing to undertake but are not afforded the opportunity, and also discourages others from even considering forestry as a profession in the first place," the Deputy Minister said.

She added that if some of forestry's other attributes, such as sustainability and ecological stewardship, were more commonly articulated, more women might surface as supporters and/or career professionals in the field. Such a portrayal might lead to a more positive impression of forestry among the general public, too - painting a picture of forestry as being more than just cutting down trees, to which not everyone has an interest in forests can relate.

Ms Sotyu said mentors or role models have been important to supporting and encouraging women in forestry. It is one of the many reasons ascribed to more female faces in the sector.

Within forestry, women are noticeably present in every part of the forest sector from research, cultivation, nurseries, silviculture, harvesting, environmental management and fire protection to transport, pulp & paper, sawmilling, and furniture production.

The Deputy Minister expressed the hope that through the continued profiling of women by the Forest Sector Charter Council in the Youth and Women Outreach Programme the youth would to take up careers in Forestry.

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LINK : https://allafrica.com/stories/202008310776.html

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