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UNCCD COP15 Gender Caucus statement by Ibrahim Thiaw

In Pursuit of Gender Equality for Strong Land Stewardship S.E. Mme Dominique Ouattara, Première Dame de Côte d’Ivoire; merci de votre leadership et votre intérêt manifeste à ce Caucus Genre. S.E Dr Mariam Mint Mohamed Vadel Ould Dah, Première Dame de Mauritanie. Merci madame, d’être venue, particulièrement, pour cet événement,   S.E Mr Abdulla Shahid, President de l’Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies. Merci aussi, monsieur le Président, d’avoir tenu à participer à cet événement.      S.E. Mme Amina Mohamed, Vice-Secrétaire Générale des Nations-Unies. Merci madame, pour votre vision et votre courage.               Je salue également tous mes collègues ici présents: Chefs d’Agence des Nations-Unies et représentants d’Organisations Internationales. Distingués invités, Mesdames et messieurs, J’éprouve un immense plaisir à vous souhaiter la cordiale bienvenue à cet événement de haut-niveau sur le genre, organisé au premier jour de la Conférence des Parties de la Convention des Nations Unies sur la Lutte contre la Désertification (UNCCD). Je savoure d’autant plus ce plaisir que nous sommes de nouveau en mesure de nous retrouver dans cette salle, après une longue et difficile période de restrictions sanitaires. Permettez-moi avant tout, d’exprimer toute ma gratitude à nos généreux hôtes à savoir le peuple et le Gouvernement de Côte d’Ivoire. Nos remerciements s’adressent en particulier à vous, madame la Première Dame, Dominique Ouattara. L’enthousiasme avec lequel vous présidez à cet événement et votre soutien sans faille, sont notés avec une grande satisfaction. Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, The negotiations on land degradation and drought at this COP are the most important in the UNCCD’s history and they can only succeed if they are built on balanced foundations, which must include gender equality. The conclusions of the study we’re presenting today are sobering. The study demonstrates that women and girls are particularly vulnerable to impacts of land degradation and droughts.    For example, when drought hits a region, food and water become naturally scarce. This affects the way food is distributed within a family. Women, the study found, tend to eat smaller portions or skip meals. They give priority to members of their family, starting with young children.  In least developed countries, agriculture is the main livelihood for nearly 80% of employed women. Yet, more often than not, they do not own the land – only 23% in Central Asia and the Caucasus, and just 4% in the Middle East and North Africa. Think about it: if we bring 100 people from that region with land titles to this room, only 4 of them will be women. And limited rights mean limited access to loans, credits, services and training, stacking the odds against the very people working the land and perpetuating poverty. Nothing stable can be built  with half the foundation missing, so there will be no sustainable development if half of humanity and half of our producers are left on the sidelines. This vicious cycle of poverty must be turned into a virtuous one of prosperity by unleashing the transformative power of women and girls to heal land and soil. They are achieving many of the land restoration successes, often with little support or recognition. In West Africa for example, women are involved in major land restoration initiatives such as the Great Green Wall.   In the Middle East and North Africa, they undertake land conservation and restoration initiatives that bring food security. Where water is scarce, they find innovative or traditional solutions like as fog harvesting, which we have seen in Morocco. Examples are plentiful from around the world where women and girl exercise their leadership on land restoration. Unnoticed and unpaid. Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Colleagues, Now is the time for action with inclusion and solidarity. To halt climate change and reverse biodiversity loss and land degradation we cannot ignore half of the population. This is a decisive decade, where we need to: ·      Change our mindsets ·      Invest heavily in education, training and access to sustainable technologies for millions of women and girls ·      Facilitate the inclusion of women into the financial system ·      Dismantle all barriers and eliminate laws and practices that prevent women and girls from accessing and using land Our UNCCD Convention is about the people and the planet. Healthy land for healthy people and healthy economies. All people. Not just half of them. With that in mind, I invite you to join « The Abidjan Declaration on Achieving Gender Equality for Successful Land Restoration". I also invite you to commit and act to improve the lives and dignity of women and girls facing the formidable daily challenges of drought, land degradation and desertification. Thank you.

UNCCD COP15 Gender Caucus statement by Ibrahim Thiaw
The First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire will chair the UNCCD COP15 Gender Caucus on 9 May 2022

En français The First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire, H.E. Dominique Ouattara, has agreed to chair the Gender Caucus of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Abidjan. This second edition of the Caucus, which opens on May 9, 2022, will welcome world leaders to place the issue of gender at the center of debates on climate change and desertification, and, above all, to accelerate women’s equal access to land resource management. Representing several links in the agricultural chain, women are particularly affected by land degradation and drought. Their low social status and lack of protection in rural areas make them more likely to suffer from the impacts of desertification. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, women account for half of the agricultural workforce but only hold 18% of the associated land titles. In addition, the decline in agricultural production due to desertification reduces their incomes and prevents them from having access to basic social services such as education, access to drinking water, health care, etc. Yet, Women play a key role in both irrigated and non-irrigated agriculture, and many are engaged in rainfed agriculture, producing two-thirds of agricultural commodities in developing countries. They participate fully in the collection and conservation of water. However, water policies linked to agriculture value them less. The international community stressed the importance of including women in water management, particularly for agricultural purposes, but also for other purposes, such as personal hygiene, cleaning and laundry. This large-scale gathering of world leaders will be an opportunity to define the role of women in land restoration and water resource management initiatives, while improving the livelihoods of rural populations. The First Lady’s role as Caucus Chair stems from her exceptional efforts to build the capacity of vulnerable women. The First Lady’s mission is to promote women’s empowerment by creating funding opportunities for women. The Women’s Assistance Fund (FAFCI), which she created in 2012, generated reinvestment capital of more than FCFA 25 billion. Round tables between Heads of State, heads of global institutions, the private sector and civil society will identify innovative initiatives and technologies for women’s empowerment. During this event, which will see the presence of several First Ladies, the members of the Caucus will share a statement indicating an action plan to support rural communities in a gender context. The Finnish H.E. Tarja Halonen, former Head of State and UNCCD Land Ambassador (UNCCD), and the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, confirmed their presence at this high-level segment. La Première Dame de Côte d’Ivoire présidera le Caucus sur le genre, le 9 mai 2022, lors de la Conférence des Parties à la Convention des Nations Unies sur la lutte contre la désertification La Première Dame de Côte d’Ivoire, S.E. Dominique Ouattara, a donné son accord pour présider le Caucus sur le genre de la quinzième réunion de la Conférence des Parties (COP 15) à la Convention des Nations Unies sur la lutte contre la désertification (CNULD) qui se tiendra le mois prochain à Abidjan.    Cette deuxième édition du Caucus qui s’ouvre le 9 mai 2022 accueillera des leaders mondiaux à l’effet de positionner la question du genre au centre des débats relatifs aux changements climatiques et à la désertification, et surtout d’accélérer l’accès équitable des femmes à la gestion des ressources terrestres.    Représentant plusieurs maillons de la chaîne agricole, les femmes subissent particulièrement la dégradation des terres et la sécheresse. Leur faible statut social et le manque de protection dans les zones rurales les rendent plus susceptibles de souffrir des impacts de la désertification. Par exemple, en Afrique subsaharienne, les femmes représentent la moitié de la main-d’œuvre agricole mais ne détiennent que 18% de titres fonciers associés.    En outre, la baisse de la production agricole due à la désertification réduit leurs revenus et les empêche d’avoir accès aux services sociaux de base tels que l’éducation, l’accès à l’eau potable, les soins de santé, etc. Pourtant, les femmes jouent un rôle primordial autant dans l’agriculture irriguée que non irriguée, et sont nombreuses à pratiquer l’agriculture pluviale, produisant deux tiers des denrées agricoles dans les pays en développement. Elles participent pleinement à la collecte et à la conservation de l’eau. Or les politiques de l’eau liées à l’agriculture les valorisent moins. La communauté internationale a souligné l’importance d’inclure les femmes dans la gestion de l’eau, notamment à des fins agricoles, mais aussi à d’autres fins, telles que l’hygiène personnelle, le nettoyage et la lessive.    Ce rassemblement de grande envergure de dirigeants mondiaux sera l'occasion de définir le rôle des femmes dans les initiatives de restauration des terres et de gestion des ressources en eau, tout en améliorant les moyens de subsistance des populations rurales. Le rôle de la Première Dame en tant que présidente du Caucus découle de ses efforts exceptionnels pour renforcer les capacités des femmes vulnérables. La Première Dame s'est en effet donnée pour mission de promouvoir l’autonomisation des femmes en créant des opportunités de financement pour ces dernières. Le Fonds d'aide aux femmes (FAFCI) qu'elle a créé en 2012 a généré un capital de réinvestissement de plus de 25 milliards de FCFA.   Des tables rondes entre chefs d'État, chefs d'institutions mondiales, le secteur privé et la société civile permettront d'identifier des initiatives et des technologies innovantes pour l'autonomisation des femmes.   Lors de cet évènement qui verra la présence de plusieurs Premières Dames, les membres du Caucus partageront une déclaration indiquant un plan d'action pour soutenir les communautés rurales dans un contexte de genre.    La finlandaise S.E. Mme Tarja Halonen, ancienne cheffe d'État et ambassadrice des terres de la CNULD (UNCCD), et le Président de l'Assemblée générale des Nations Unies, M. Abdulla Shahid, ont confirmé leur présence à ce segment de haut niveau.

The First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire will chair the UNCCD COP15 Gender Caucus on 9 May 2022
Executive Secretary's statement on International Women’s Day 2022

To our mothers, sisters and daughters – we honor your life-giving force, we salute your contribution to bringing about a more sustainable world, and above all we are inspired by your resilience in the face of tremendous adversity. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by desertification, land degradation and drought. This is not because they find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rather it is a result of traditions, customs, or religious practices that have not yet evolved to recognize and respect their legitimate human rights. As we face an unparalleled confluence of natural and human-induced crises, cultures and societies can no longer afford to disrespect or disregard women and girls’ role as primary caregivers and as educators as well as their contribution to household health and income, food and water security, and sustainable development. This recognition is important as we strive towards a more equitable and just society. However, it is not enough. On this International Women’s Day 2022, I am calling on governments and communities to welcome women and girls as equal partners and harness their knowledge and talent to address the existential challenges of today. An important first step is their full and meaningful participation in decision making and investments that will determine the quality of life on land for our children. Inclusive land restoration begins with reforming legal, regulatory, customary, and administrative frameworks to be gender responsive. Inclusive land restoration also means upholding women’s legitimate rights to access and control land resources – soil, water, and biodiversity. This opens doors to credit and finance, markets and networks, and training and extension services that improve family and community health and shared economic prosperity. On this Day, I reiterate my call to governments and communities to empower women and girls and recognize their legitimate human rights, including their right to own and manage land. This will lead the way for a prosperous, equitable, and sustainable future for them, and for all.

Executive Secretary's statement on International Women’s Day 2022
Shifting power for a gender-equitable land degradation-neutral world

Awareness that gender biases exist in land‐based activities has grown significantly. Yet, weak legal and social protections for women’s land use continue. This leads to women’s needs, realities and knowledge being overlooked. Although land supports humanity in many ways, progress remains slow in the global efforts to move towards a future where more balanced relations make it possible for women and men to interact with and care for land in equitable and non-hierarchical ways.

Shifting power for a gender-equitable land degradation-neutral world
Gender=? Probing the gender equation to get it right

Generally, the #gender equation is still largely viewed as, gender equals #women (Gender = Women). Often, the equation is more precisely defined as “Gender = Women’s Vulnerabilities.” But this is only a small part of the equation. As I demonstrate below through recent field work in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nepal, South Sudan and Uganda over the last six months, we have to address a missing parts of this equation to get to the bottom of #genderequality.

Gender=? Probing the gender equation to get it right