The Programme is well aware that women serve on the front lines of drylands development, managing land and water resources and affecting the choice of livelihood options of the family. For centuries, women have passed on their skills in water management, crop production, and forest management, among others. Through these experiences, women have acquired valuable knowledge that will allow them to contribute positively to sustainable development efforts in the drylands, if only they are given the opportunity. This is particularly true in the Arab Region where women discrimination and inequality and stereotypical gender roles are deeply entrenched, limiting women’s economic potential and decision-making opportunities.
The promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment is a core commitment of the Programme in its efforts for poverty reduction and environmental conservation in partner countries. It is seen both as an objective and an instrument for sustainable drylands development. In its operations, The Programme provides support to its partners as follows:
- Advisory services to promote gender equality and women empowerment in drylands development policy;
- Development of gender-sensitive programmes and projects
- Innovative interventions that benefit both women and men at the local level;
- Experience exchange between programme countries.
The Programme aims at expanding women’s access to fundamental assets (capital, land, knowledge and technologies), strengthening women’s decision-making role and representation in local institutions, and improving well-being by facilitating access to basic services and infrastructures. The Programme’s actions are guided by the principle that development initiatives should incorporate the priorities and needs of both women and men and give them equal opportunities to access benefits and services. In this way, the Programme seeks to address the structural inequalities that prevent women from realizing their potential as human beings, producers and agents of change.