Held on the sidelines of the 12th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), this one-day event addressed gender perspectives in meeting the UNCCD goal of land degradation neutrality (LDN), and associated target 15.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The discussions drew on a three-part global study titled ‘Women's Empowerment in the Drylands' that explores issues of gender justice with respect to land rights, governance and resilience.
16 October 2015: Held on the sidelines of the 12th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), this one-day event addressed gender perspectives in meeting the UNCCD goal of land degradation neutrality (LDN), and associated target 15.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The discussions drew on a three-part global study, titled ‘Women’s Empowerment in the Drylands,’ which explores issues of gender justice with respect to land rights, governance and resilience.
The main objective of Gender Day, which took place on 16 October 2016, was to identify policy actions needed to boost women’s empowerment so that they can play a more effective role in creating wealth for their families and minimizing the negative effects of climate change at the family, community, national and global levels. The event also aimed to follow up the Windhoek Initiative on Women’s Empowerment, a key outcome of Gender Day at UNCCD COP 11 in Windhoek, Namibia, in 2013.
More than 100 participants took part in discussions organized around thematic sessions addressing three areas of policy action: ‘Ensuring Women Land Rights for a Sustainable Future’; ‘Drylands Women and Resilience Building’; and ‘Land Degradation Neutrality: Seeing Through the Gender Lens.’ Speakers at the event included the Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, Moniqu Barbut, environment ministers from Namibia and South Africa, the Ambassador of Finland to Turkey, the head of the Yoruk, an indigenous community in Turkey, and the Chairperson of Life-Giving Forest e.V. and past winner of the Terre de Femmes Award.
During an interactive discussion on ‘Where are the Women in Decision Making?’ panelists highlighted cultural norms as the greatest barrier to women’s empowerment in dryland countries, even in cases where legislation recognizes women’s rights to land and other productive resources. Noting that allocating quotas for gender equality is not enough to ensure the transformation of gender roles, participants stressed the importance of building women’s capacity to participate in decision making, especially through collective action that gives a voice to women, provides them with information and enhances their self-esteem.
Gender Day at COP 12 was jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), UNCCD, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Gender Unit of the University of Namibia (UNAM) and Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (WOCAN), with financial support from the Government of Finland. [Report of Gender Day] [Synthesis Report: Empowering Dryland Women: Capturing Opportunities in Land Rights, Governance and Resilience] [Thematic study 1 – Strengthening Dryland Women’s Land Rights: Local Contexts, Global Change] [Thematic study 2 – Gender and Drylands Governance: Empowering Women for Change] [Thematic study 3: Achieving Dryland Women’s Empowerment: Environmental Resilience and Social Transformation Imperatives]