Women play an important role in many forms of land management, including food production, but are often seriously disadvantaged because of entrenched gender-specific rights, roles, and responsibilities, reducing the quality of life for them and their children. If we want to end poverty and achieve the SDG’s, women, and girls need to be included in decision-making on ecosystem use at all levels, as essential players in preserving our planet.

Why it matters for the convention

In most developing countries, women (and sometimes girls) are still responsible for meeting the most basic livelihood needs (food, water, fuelwood and employment) and are more heavily reliant than men on natural resources. Women produce 80% of the food consumed in these regions. The burden on women to support families is growing as more and more people are affected by land degradation. About 1.8 billion were projected to be negatively affected by land degradation by the year 2025, but already, more than 2.9 billion people are affected1.

The gendered drivers and impacts of land degradation and drought are acknowledged at the political level. Success in the design and implementation of the UNCCD strategy and realization of the land degradation neutrality targets depends on the ability of the parties to take gender, in particular women’s empowerment and gender equality, into account.

The Convention underscores the important role women play for the realization of the Convention’s objectives. By decisions 8/COP 9, 9/COP10, 9/COP11, 36/COP11 and 3/COP12, the Convention calls for specific actions to ensure gender-related concerns, including women’s empowerment, are addressed. The decisions are backed by declarations and commitments to action, such as the Namib Declaration and Ankara Initiative.

Mainstreaming gender ensures both men and women are the agents and beneficiaries of change. Any other approach is inconsistent with the mandate of the Convention and limit the achievement of the strategic goals. Achieving land degradation neutrality will be impossible if the barriers that prevent women from reaping enough to sustain their lives and livelihoods of their families are overlooked, not addressed effectively or become add-ons, and not a strategic part of the action through to 2030. The global consensus on Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality strengthens the governance framework the Convention needs to fulfill its objectives.

1. 2017, Samandari, A. Working Paper on Gender, Global Land Outlook, paper p2.

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 liveli…Read more
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