Unlocking women’s transformative potential for LDN and the SDG agenda

Gender action plan


In September 2017, the first-ever Gender Action Plan to the UNCCD was adopted at COP13 in Ordos, China. Its overall goal is to support and enhance the implementation of the gender-related decisions and mandates adopted in the UNCCD process.   

The GAP recognizes that gender-responsive policy needs strengthening in all activities relating to sustainable land management as well as implementation processes – participation, economic empowerment, access to land and resources, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building – and that women should participate in the implementation of land and natural resource use policies. It also recognizes that gender dimension should be mainstreamed into all targets and goals in activities under the Convention to increase their effectiveness. 

 Five priority areas were defined as critical to achieving gender objectives:

  • Participation in decisions concerning the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of initiatives to implement the UNCCD, since women have a strong influence on most land-based livelihood systems. Their participation in local institutions that govern natural resources is instrumental to sustainable land, water and forest management. Hence, Parties agreed to increase and strengthen the participation and leadership of women at all levels of decision-making and local implementation of the UNCCD, including drought management as well as sand and dust storms (SDS) and land degradation neutrality (LDN) interventions, with the aim to reach gender parity by 2030 
  • Integrating women’s economic empowerment in UNCCD implementation activities to eradicate their extreme poverty. Nearly 40 per cent of land degradation is found in areas of high poverty, often due to a history of structural constraints, limited incomes and the lack of social safety nets, which create formidable pressure on the land to meet the population’s daily livelihood needs. Thus, Parties have agreed to   promote women’s economic empowerment  by breaking down gender-related barriers and creating quality income earning opportunities for rural women involved in implementation activities
  • Strengthening women’s land rights and access to resources. Women in developing countries that are affected by desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) are estimated to produce up to 60–80 per cent of the food.  Still, a majority of the women in Africa and the Middle East lack critical land rights. Therefore, Parties agreed to increase women’s land rights by 2030 through diverse and innovative approaches 
  • Enhancing women’s access to improved knowledge and technologies that relate to effective UNCCD implementation. Indigenous and rural women hold valuable knowledge for increasing food production, yet far fewer women than men benefit from the technologies based on this knowledge. Subsequently, Parties agreed    to build the knowledge capacities of female land-users in the areas targeted for sustainable land management (SLM) to deliver appropriate technological resources, including information technologies, training, extension services and the education of girls

UNCCD parties are committed to improving the quality of life for women worldwide. The GAP represents a landmark opportunity to transform gender equality and human rights into action. If properly implemented, resourced and monitored, the GAP bears the potential to move us closer to achieving women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in the UNCCD process and the development and implementation of gender-responsive and human-rights based SLM policies in all thematic areas of the process as well as on national and sub-national levels.  

Women are active agents of change. Evidence shows that when women are given equal opportunities and access to resources and decision-making, communities become more prosperous and more peaceful. Women’s transformative potential can become the cornerstone for achieving LDN and fulfilling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Convention recognizes the importance of women in the implementation of the Convention, and identifies critical areas for their engagement: (i) awareness-raising, and participation in the design and implementation of programmes; (ii) decision-making processes that men and women adopt at the local…
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Poor rural women in developing countries are critical to the survival of their families. Fertile land is their lifeline. But the number of people negatively affected by land degradation is growing rapidly. Crop failures, water scarcity and the migration of traditional crops are damaging rural…
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