Taking SDG 5 seriously in relation to forests brings to the forefront what is usually taken for granted in forest debates: people, their relationships to one another and to the forests that determine forest outcomes. In this chapter, we bring to light the invisible labour and relations that underpin good forest management. We show how systemic and contextual factors such as health, gender-based violence and unpaid care work by forest peoples in the forests and outside are crucial to the welfare of forests and forest dependent peoples. So far, little progress has been made in implementing SDG5 targets within forestry. Political will is needed to transform unequal relationships and to support demands for forest justice. There is a need to challenge privilege based on sex, class, ethnicity or caste and to destabilize inequitable micro- and macro-economic structures such as commodification and support democratic forest governance to work towards greater sustainability. It is also important to keep in mind that well-intentioned efforts, such as gender programmes can have adverse effects if not cognisant of contextual power relations. The welfare and dignity that achieving SDG 5 would bring to forest peoples and livelihoods is essential to ensuring better managed and sustainable forests.
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