Researchers and practitioners have amply discussed the potential of REDD+ to help or harm forest-based communities, but less attention has been paid to its gender dimensions. Safeguard policies are aimed at ensuring that REDD+ does not harm women, but interventions that do not seek to address imbalances at the outset may be doomed to perpetuate them. Based on research by the Center for International Forestry Research in 77 villages in 20 REDD+ sites across six countries, this article finds that women - even where they use forests as much or more - have been less involved in REDD+ initiative design decisions and processes than men, a situation with potentially significant implications for implementation and future outcomes. This article uses the research findings to argue that "participation", while a central demand of indigenous and other local communities more generally, is only a partial solution to addressing women's strategic needs in ways that could strengthen their position in REDD+. Rather, gender-responsive analyses are needed to understand real and perceived gender differences and anticipate risks.