The role and participation of women in the management of forests through Community Forest Associations has a significant impact on Sustainable Forest Management (SFA). In Kenya community involvement in the forest sector has been through the Participatory Forest Management (PFM) approach implemented by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the Community Forest Associations (CFA). Study methodology involved data collection from 110 participants in the year 2014, sampled across the Mt. Kenya and Aberdare ecosystems. The purpose of the study was to determine the effectiveness, participation levels and the role of women in asserting their rights in forest management. The study explored women participation in implementing decisions about how conservation and development needs are balanced across their landscapes. Data collection methods included the use of questionnaires. Key findings of the study stated that the majority of CFA leaders are male at 37.0% while the females form the minority at 4.5%. Women however, enjoy considerable influence and support at the user group level. It was noted that 89.7% of respondents preferred women to be put in leadership positions in CFAs since they believed the majority of women are honest, committed and less corrupt. General poor leadership (36.7%) was most frequently cited by the respondents, followed by selfish leaders (26.6%) and this affected their ability to perhaps work effectively for their rights. The study notes that the key obstacle to increased women’s leadership is being denied positions by existing men leaders. The study recommended that all CFA members including women should undergo capacity development in leadership and natural resource management. The Kenyan constitution has created a rule of maximum threshold of two thirds of either gender to elective and appointive offices which must be respected. Future research should look at the strategies to advocate for gender equity in forest management which includes institutional reforms.
Key Words: Women Rights, Community Forest Associations, Assertiveness, Leadership