At UNCCD we consider gender equality as a stepping-stone to achieve land degradation neutrality and equip communities to combat drought and desertification. We place women front and center as they are instrumental in providing sustainable livelihoods for their families, societies, and contributing to land restoration activities.
While gender equality encompasses both men and women, it is women who tend to be at a systemic disadvantage in many parts of the world. For example, in developing countries, women are responsible for collecting water. When their community is affected by desertification and their water source is dry, they are forced to walk long distances to fetch water. These long walks require physical effort and may contribute to psychological distress. The time spent on water collection means girls and women have fewer opportunities to engage in income-generating activities or go to school.
Gender inequalities are the root cause of why girls and women spend many hours on tasks that men refuse to undertake. This in turn limits their ability to meaningfully participate in activities that can help combat drought and desertification and achieve land degradation neutrality.
Why a gender action plan?
In 2017 at COP13 in China, the Parties to the Convention recognized the shortcomings of their work due to their limited gender perspectives. This led to the development of a Gender Action Plan to ensure that gender equality plays a central role in building drought resilience and achieving land degradation neutrality. The Plan helps countries improve women’s access to resources and gives them opportunities that they previously lacked.
It identifies the following four priority actions:
- ensure women participate in decision-making
- eradicate poverty
- strengthen women’s land rights including access to resources
- enhance women’s access to improved knowledge and technologies
Thanks to the Gender Action Plan there is now a common understanding of gender roles and how to address common inequalities.
As part of this effort, all funding requests need to meet the requirements laid out in the Gender Action Plan. Furthermore, starting in 2023, all land degradation neutrality and drought resilience country progress reports will have to include gender-related data.
- The Gender Action Plan as a mechanism for improving the living conditions of affected populations: first experiences and the way forward can be found here
- Biennial Progress Reports
- An overview of the progress made in support of UNCCD Country parties in rolling out the UNCCD Gender Action Plan can be found here
- Biennial progress reports (pdf) on the implementation of the Convention (COP reports starting in 2019)