In its twentieth preambular paragraph, the Convention stresses “the important role played by women in regions affected by desertification and/or drought, particularly in rural areas of developing countries, and the importance of ensuring the full participation of both men and women at all levels in programmes to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought.”
Further, affected Parties commit themselves to “promote awareness and facilitate the participation of local populations, particularly women and youth, with the support of non-governmental organizations, in efforts to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought” (article 5, paragraph (d)).
A central element for the implementation of the Convention at the national level is the establishment of partnerships between national authorities and representatives from civil society. A major responsibility of the national partnerships is to put in place processes leading to the formulation of national action programmes (NAPs), which are aligned with the objectives of the 10-Year Strategy and based on the principles of continuous planning and active involvement of dryland populations.
The provisions outlined for NAPs highlight women as a stakeholder group that should be recognized and their contributions taken into account. Also, governance on NAP development, implementation and review should be based on the decision-making processes that men and women adopt at the local level (see article 10, paragraph 2 (f), of the Convention). One of the goals of the Secretariat is to facilitate the development of NAPs, and in this role address options for mainstreaming gender within the action programmes.
To date, Parties to the UNCCD have adopted decisions on the promotion of capacity building in accordance with resources available, accounting for the full participation at all levels of local people, especially women and youth, with the cooperation of non-governmental and local organizations, as provided for in article 19, paragraph 1 (a), of the Convention.
Cooperation among various development actors seeking to ensure the advancement of women for UNCCD implementation is further emphasized in article 19, paragraph 3.
COP decisions related to gender
Various COP decisions have reiterated the relevance of gender associated with core aspects of the Convention:
(a) Decision 5/COP.9 adopted the revised procedures for the participation of CSOs in the COP and other UNCCD activities as contained in document ICCD/COP(9)/4/Add.1 and its corrigendum, and the eligibility criteria contained therein.
(b) Decision 8/COP.9 requested the secretariat to generate advocacy policy frameworks on thematic issues in order to address the adverse impacts of desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD), keeping in mind gender sensitive approaches, and to regularly inform affected countries and other key stakeholders on such proceedings that may be useful in the implementation of action programmes;
(c) Decisions 21/COP.9, 11/COP.8, 15/COP.5, 15/COP.4, 15/COP.3 and 13/COP.2 deal with the need to ensure a better gender balance and representation of all relevant disciplines, and of all individuals with expertise on desertification, land degradation and drought;
(d) Decision 1/COP.6, paragraph 17, invited affected developing country Parties other Parties covered by Regional Implementation Annexes, developed country Parties, and concerned institutions, to promote gender-sensitive capacity-building measures for stakeholders to carry out specific participatory and synergistic programmes as part of their NAPs to combat land degradation and mitigate the effects of drought, protect biodiversity, facilitate the regeneration of degraded forests, while promoting sustainable livelihoods at local level;
(e) Decision 17/COP.1 adopted procedures for the establishment of ad hoc panels of experts taking into account a multidisciplinary approach, an appropriate gender balance, and broad and equitable geographical representation.;
(f) Decision 27/COP.1 requested that NGOs give further consideration to institutional mechanisms for reinforcing different partnerships, which draw on local knowledge and experience, gender issues in partnership building and other critical issues in the implementation of the UNCCD.
The 10-Year Strategy
The 10-year strategic plan and framework to enhance the implementation of the Convention (2008–2018) sets out the four strategic objectives to guide the actions for all UNCCD stakeholders and partners (Decision 3/COP.8) including:
- to improve the living conditions of affected populations
- to improve the condition of affected ecosystems
- to generate global benefits through effective implementation of the Convention
- to mobilize resources through effective partnerships between national and international actors.
These four operational objectives do not target specific policy areas or stakeholder groups, but rather represent broad, cross-cutting thematic areas of action such as advocacy, science and capacity-building.
However, many of the expected outcomes set by Parties under the operational objectives have direct relevance to gender.
For example, outcome 2.1 calls for an assessment of policy, institutional, financial and socio-economic drivers of desertification/land degradation and barriers to sustainable land management, and for measures to remove these barriers.
Outcome 3.5 concerns the establishment of effective knowledge-sharing systems at the global, regional, sub-regional and national levels to support policymakers and end-users, including through the identification and sharing of best practices and success stories.
Issues relating to gender are reflected in the plans and programmes of the secretariat, which describe in detail the services and support to be provided to Parties and other stakeholders in advancing the Strategy.
In its 2010–2013 workplan, adopted by Parties at COP 9, Parties decided that the secretariat should facilitate, inter alia, the understanding of existing inter-linkages with water scarcity, forestry, gender issues and migration, as well as the related cross-sectoral governance (see decision 1/COP.9, annex IV).
The Advocacy Policy Framework
In Decision 9/COP.10, parties approved the approved the Advocacy Policy Framework (APF) on gender and requested the UNCCD Secretariat to work on the implementation of the recommendations of the document. The APF pursues the strategic objective of identifying targets for mainstreaming gender issues into the implementation of the 10-year Strategy.
The focus of this document is to promote the integration of gender within the implementation of the UNCCD. Policies proposed on gender mainstreaming seek to recognize of the roles of women and men in the Convention and to assist in reducing vulnerability by enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of UNCCD actions at all levels.
 (a) Geographical balance; (b) Turnover regime; (c) Consideration of representative networks; (d) Expertise balance; and (e) Gender balance.