Jan 30, 2019 News
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Monique Barbut, said that women are uniquely disadvantaged when it comes to issues of desertification and land degradation. In this regard, one of the major focuses for the seventeenth session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 17) is to bring a gender-focused approach to all of the organisation’s efforts.
The UNCCD’s text, approved in 1994, gives women a prominent role in the global efforts to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought. Recognising the uniqueness of women’s experiences, the parties to the Convention adopted a Gender Action Plan (GAP) in 2017, to support and enhance the implementation of gender-related decisions and mandates which the parties have agreed to.
The UN defines gender as the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a particular society, at a given time and place, considers appropriate for men and women and to the relationships between them.
Because of these norms, there have developed significant differences between the genders’ roles and responsibilities, daily activities, access to and control over resources, and decision-making opportunities.
In some countries, women have little to no property rights and restricted personal autonomy. The UNCCD notes that, in developing countries, rural women are particularly dependent on natural resources for survival than men, because they are poorer than men, given their more limited access to land rights, finance and credit, along with knowledge and technology. While women make up more than 43 percent of the global agricultural workforce, less than 20 percent of landholders worldwide are women.
Though Guyana has benefited from relatively progressive laws, cultures and policies, the country still recognizes that it must work to reach the land degradation targets of the UNCCD, inclusive of ensuring that measures are gender-focused.
The GAP outlines four priority areas to close the gender gap: participation in decisions taken during the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of initiatives to implement the UNCCD; integration of women’s economic empowerment into UNCCD implementation activities to eradicate their extreme poverty; strengthening of women’s land rights and access to resources; and enhancement of women’s access to improved knowledge and technologies relating to the effective implementation of the UNCCD.
The parties involved in this effort have acknowledged that there are major benefits to the achievement in gender equality, generally as well as specifically related to the issue of gender equality. One of these benefits is that there would be significant economic dividends.
The UNCCD’s recent estimates suggest that gender equality could as much as US$12 Trillion to annual global GDP in 2025, equivalent to the combined current GDP of Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom. The UNCCD has also noted that the benefits of secure land rights and access to productive resources, knowledge and technology are also well documented.
The UNCCD posits that stronger property rights are associated with an increased annual average growth of per capita income of between six and fourteen percent. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimates that, if women around the world had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent and raise total agricultural output by two point five to four percent, which could save 100M-150M people from hunger.
Women, the UNCCD notes, if given true equality, would have a considerable positive impact on the overall wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.
Today will be the last day of the CRIC meeting at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.
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