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At a function attended by Delhi 's leading intellectuals and policy makers, Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State (independent charge) for Environment and Forests and Montek Singh Ahluwalia, jointly released Bina Agarwal's pathbreaking new book Gender and Green Governance on 25 th October at the India Habitat Centre. Commentators included, Kaushik Basu, Neerja Jayal and Mahesh Rangarajan.

Praising the book highly, Jairam Ramesh said that he had asked his 3700 forest service officers to read it for its many insights, and for so forcefully bringing out the role of women in forest conservation. He noted that the first big movement for forest conservation, the “Chipko Andolan ”, was also started by women. He strongly endorsed the author's argument that an alliance between women in forest management and local women's groups would enhance women's voices. Kaushik Basu emphasized that this was very rare book. Few books so effectively cover so many fields: of gender, environment as well as governance. Pointing to many significant results, he noted that the book is not only original and empirically rigorous but also very accessible to non-economists, with its rich qualitative material and people's voices. Montek Singh Ahluwalia said that unlike many studies on gender, this book's careful regression analysis, which eschewed easy generalizations, made for solid research of policy relevance. It also established that including landless women was very important in affecting decisions and outcomes.

Prof. Neerja Jayal expanded on the book's many contributions which firmly establishes that 25% to 33% women are necessary for effectiveness. It also has many lessons for women in panchayats. The author, Bina Agarwal, said that she often takes an agnostic view in approaching gender questions and seeks to test propositions. Unlike other studies which focus on women's absence from forest governance, in Gender and Green Governance Agarwal asks: what difference would it make if women were present ? Would it lead to different rules of forest use, better forests and more equitable access? Would poor women make a particular difference? And is one-third really the magic number we must aim for? Answers to these neglected questions, she argued, is important, since f orests provide biodiversity and serve as carbon sinks. They also fulfill the everyday needs of millions. Hence w hatever agreements governments make on climate change, their effectiveness will depend on the actions of millions, not just of men but also of women .

The book is strongly endorsed by Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom who writes: “Bina Agarwal has crafted a book of central importance in today's world….With analytical rigour and originality, Agarwal bridges … major gaps in our understanding of the difference women can make, when they are actively involved in forest governance.”