Increased out-migration from rural areas indicates a significant socio-demographic shift that is increasingly being studied for its impact on community-based forestry institutions. Previous studies in Nepal, Mexico and India have highlighted changes in community-based forestry institutions through increased participation of women following out-migration of men. Therefore, this paper analyses the participation of women in Van Panchayats in a representative sample of six Van Panchayats from Almora district, which is facing one of the highest rates of out-migration in Kumaon region of India. The analysis suggests there is low participation of women in the leadership positions of Van Panchayats despite landmark legislations to increase women's participation. Further, there was no statistically significant difference between participation of women from migrant versus non-migrant households in general assembly meetings of Van Panchayats, suggesting lack of supporting evidence on previous claims about out-migration leading to increased participation of women. Moreover, the position of women in the household (whether household head or not) was significant in explaining their participation in Van Panchayats, and other community-based institutions. The reported findings are relevant to the design of gender inclusive public policy on Van Panchayats as well as to the literature on impact of out-migration on community-based forestry.
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Vol. 21 • No. 2