Empowering Women for Change
16 October 2015
Women serve on the frontlines of drylands development, managing land and water resources and affecting the choice of livelihood options of the family. They are important players in sustainable development processes. In most dryland countries, however, women discrimination, inequality and stereotypical gender roles are still deeply entrenched, limiting women’s socio-economic and political power and hence the potential for development.
The Programme has been active in promoting the women empowerment agenda within UNCCD processes. Following the success of the COP 11 Gender Day in Windhoek/ Namibia which led to the inclusion of Gender as one of the six priority areas of the Namib Declaration, the Programme mobilized funding from the UNDP Global Programme and commissioned three policy studies to explore gender justice in the drylands comprehensively through the lens of the key challenges highlighted in Namibia, namely land rights, governance and resilience. The output reports of the studies, entitled “Gender and Drylands Development: Empowering Women for Change”, underscore that significant number of opportunities exist to promote gender equality and empower women and highlight the main policy, institutional and capacity strengthening measures to help transform gender relations and drive sustainable development in the drylands. The findings of the reports were shared during a Special Rio Convention Pavilion Session on gender convened on 16 October 2015 on the occasion of the UNCCD COP12.
This Gender Day was organized jointly with the UNCCD Secretariat, FAO, IUCN, WOCAN, and the University of Namibia (UNAM) and was made possible through the financial support of the Government of Finland. It was a success at all levels: large participation, high-level political endorsement, fruitful discussions with tangible recommendations, and active coverage on social media. The discussions were based on the priorities identified in Windhoek, namely strengthening dryland women’s land rights and role in decision-making as well as building their resilience to drought and socio-economic challenges. The meeting was opened by the Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, Ms. Monique Barbut, the Namibian Minister of Environment and Tourism, Mr. Pohamba Shifeta, and the Ambassador of Finland, Ms. Nina Vaskunlahti. A video address was also made by Ms. Tarja Halonen, Drylands Ambassador and former President of Finland. Ms. Barbara Thomson, Deputy Minister of Environment and Water Resources of South Africa, delivered the keynote address.
The Day served to discuss and agree on the priority areas for action to empower women for change. A COP decision on gender was then drafted building on the recommendations of the Day and is currently being advocated for within UNCCD processes.
More details on the day's sessions and proceedings can be found in the Gender Day Report.
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