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Gender and desertification: expanding roles for women to restore dryland areas

Published by: IFAD


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This review examines the impact of desertification on women, their role in the management of natural resources and drylands, and the constraints they face. It presents the experiences of several IFAD-supported programmes and projects in addressing women as natural resource users and managers in dryland areas, and highlights some of the approaches used to reach women more effectively. It also presents lessons learned from IFAD programmes and projects, and recommendations for expanding women’s roles in order to restore dryland areas.

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General Information

SDGs Goal 5: Gender equality Goal 15: Life on land
Published
2011
Thematic Area
Sustainability
Gender equality
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Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Empowering women and promoting gender equality is crucial to accelerating sustainable development. Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but it also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas.

Since 2000, UNDP together with our UN partners and the rest of the global community has made gender equality central to our work, and we have seen some remarkable successes. More girls are now in school compared to 15 years ago, and most regions have reached gender parity in primary education. Women now make up to 41 percent of paid workers outside of agriculture, compared to 35 percent in 1990.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to build on these achievements to ensure that there is an end to discrimination against women and girls everywhere. There are still gross inequalities in access to paid employment in some regions, and significant gaps between men and women in the labour market. Sexual violence and exploitation, the unequal division of unpaid care and domestic work, and discrimination in public decision making, all remain huge barriers.

Ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health, and affording women equal rights to economic resources such as land and property, are vital targets to realizing this goal. There are now more women in public office than ever before, but encouraging more women leaders across all regions will help strengthen policies and legislation for greater gender equality.

Gender equality is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

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Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Empowering women and promoting gender equality is crucial to accelerating sustainable development. Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but it also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas.

Since 2000, UNDP together with our UN partners and the rest of the global community has made gender equality central to our work, and we have seen some remarkable successes. More girls are now in school compared to 15 years ago, and most regions have reached gender parity in primary education. Women now make up to 41 percent of paid workers outside of agriculture, compared to 35 percent in 1990.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to build on these achievements to ensure that there is an end to discrimination against women and girls everywhere. There are still gross inequalities in access to paid employment in some regions, and significant gaps between men and women in the labour market. Sexual violence and exploitation, the unequal division of unpaid care and domestic work, and discrimination in public decision making, all remain huge barriers.

Ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health, and affording women equal rights to economic resources such as land and property, are vital targets to realizing this goal. There are now more women in public office than ever before, but encouraging more women leaders across all regions will help strengthen policies and legislation for greater gender equality.

Gender equality is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

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The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund has placed gender equality and women’s empowerment at the heart of its efforts to accelerate progress towards the SDGs. By directly empowering women and by bringing a gender perspective to all development work, we can build a more equitable, sustainable future for all. All SDG Fund programmes mainstream gender into their implementation and monitoring plans.

For example,

  • In Bangladesh, the labor force participation of rural women is only 36.4% compared to 83.3% of men. Creating employment and income generating opportunities for women and enhancing their access to social protection will help reduce gender disparities.
  • In Ethiopia, rural women lag behind in access to land property, economic opportunities, justice system and financial assets. Women farmers perform up to 75% of farm labor but hold only 18.7% of agricultural land in the country. The SDG Fund is using a multifaceted approach to generate gender-sensitive agricultural extension services, support the creation of cooperatives, promote the expansion of women-owned agribusiness and increase rural women’s participation in rural producer associations, financial cooperatives and unions.
  • In the occupied Palestinian territory, the SDG Fund joint programme is helping to improve the livelihoods of Palestinian women. The programme is building the capacities of women-owned and run MSMEs and cooperatives, preserving cultural and agricultural products, and turning them into marketable and exportable products. In addition, the programme is protecting local production and establish incentives for women cooperatives. 
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The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund has placed gender equality and women’s empowerment at the heart of its efforts to accelerate progress towards the SDGs. By directly empowering women and by bringing a gender perspective to all development work, we can build a more equitable, sustainable future for all. All SDG Fund programmes mainstream gender into their implementation and monitoring plans.

For example,

  • In Bangladesh, the labor force participation of rural women is only 36.4% compared to 83.3% of men. Creating employment and income generating opportunities for women and enhancing their access to social protection will help reduce gender disparities.
  • In Ethiopia, rural women lag behind in access to land property, economic opportunities, justice system and financial assets. Women farmers perform up to 75% of farm labor but hold only 18.7% of agricultural land in the country. The SDG Fund is using a multifaceted approach to generate gender-sensitive agricultural extension services, support the creation of cooperatives, promote the expansion of women-owned agribusiness and increase rural women’s participation in rural producer associations, financial cooperatives and unions.
  • In the occupied Palestinian territory, the SDG Fund joint programme is helping to improve the livelihoods of Palestinian women. The programme is building the capacities of women-owned and run MSMEs and cooperatives, preserving cultural and agricultural products, and turning them into marketable and exportable products. In addition, the programme is protecting local production and establish incentives for women cooperatives. 
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  • End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere
  • Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation
  • Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation
  • Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate
  • Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decisionmaking in political, economic and public life
  • Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences
  • Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws
  • Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels
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  • End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere
  • Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation
  • Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation
  • Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate
  • Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decisionmaking in political, economic and public life
  • Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences
  • Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws
  • Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels
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Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

Human life depends on the earth as much as the ocean for our sustenance and livelihood. Plant life provides 80 percent of our human diet, and we rely on agriculture as an important economic resource and means of development. Forests account for 30 percent of the Earth’s surface, providing vital habitats for millions of species and important sources for clean air and water; as well as being crucial for combating climate change.

Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate. Drought and desertification is also on the rise each year, amounting to the loss of 12 million hectares and affects poor communities globally. Of the 8,300 animal breeds known, 8 percent are extinct and 22 percent are at risk of extinction.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to conserve and restore the use of terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, drylands and mountains by 2020. Promoting the sustainable management of forests and halting deforestations is also vital to mitigating the impact of climate change. Urgent action must be taken to reduce the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity which are part of our common heritage.

Conserving forests and other ecosystems is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 15.

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Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

Human life depends on the earth as much as the ocean for our sustenance and livelihood. Plant life provides 80 percent of our human diet, and we rely on agriculture as an important economic resource and means of development. Forests account for 30 percent of the Earth’s surface, providing vital habitats for millions of species and important sources for clean air and water; as well as being crucial for combating climate change.

Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate. Drought and desertification is also on the rise each year, amounting to the loss of 12 million hectares and affects poor communities globally. Of the 8,300 animal breeds known, 8 percent are extinct and 22 percent are at risk of extinction.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to conserve and restore the use of terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, drylands and mountains by 2020. Promoting the sustainable management of forests and halting deforestations is also vital to mitigating the impact of climate change. Urgent action must be taken to reduce the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity which are part of our common heritage.

Conserving forests and other ecosystems is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 15.

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  • By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements
  • By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
  • By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world
  • By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development
  • Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species
  • Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed
  • Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products
  • By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species
  • By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts
  • Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation
  • Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities
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  • By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements
  • By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
  • By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world
  • By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development
  • Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species
  • Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed
  • Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products
  • By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species
  • By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts
  • Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation
  • Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities
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The concept of long term sustainability of development programmes is constantly evolving.

The SDG Fund definition involves:

  1. Inclusion and participation in programme initiatives within the vision of a Human Rights-based approach
  2. Economic use of resources in programme implementation
  3. Sustainability of programme achievements after termination of activities
  4. Mainstreaming environment and climate change in development programmes

For our programmes integrating sustainability requires an analysis of the governance architecture and the different stages of the programme cycle. At the national level, this could include the formulation of national policies, long term and multi-year development plans, sectoral budgetary allocation processes, and regulatory processes. At the level of projects on the ground, climate change adaptation considerations might need to be factored within specific elements of the project cycle.

As an example, a key element to mainstreaming climate change is the use of a climate lens. The following criteria are essential elements to be observed:

  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project under consideration could be vulnerable to risks arising from climate variability and change
  • The extent to which climate change risks have already been taken into consideration
  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project could inadvertently lead to increased vulnerability and maladaptation or miss important opportunities arising from climate change

The following publications offer useful guidance for introducing environmental sustainability and climate change sensitivity into development programmes:

See also this list of references from the UNFCCC on how to mainstream climate change into development programming.

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The concept of long term sustainability of development programmes is constantly evolving.

The SDG Fund definition involves:

  1. Inclusion and participation in programme initiatives within the vision of a Human Rights-based approach
  2. Economic use of resources in programme implementation
  3. Sustainability of programme achievements after termination of activities
  4. Mainstreaming environment and climate change in development programmes

For our programmes integrating sustainability requires an analysis of the governance architecture and the different stages of the programme cycle. At the national level, this could include the formulation of national policies, long term and multi-year development plans, sectoral budgetary allocation processes, and regulatory processes. At the level of projects on the ground, climate change adaptation considerations might need to be factored within specific elements of the project cycle.

As an example, a key element to mainstreaming climate change is the use of a climate lens. The following criteria are essential elements to be observed:

  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project under consideration could be vulnerable to risks arising from climate variability and change
  • The extent to which climate change risks have already been taken into consideration
  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project could inadvertently lead to increased vulnerability and maladaptation or miss important opportunities arising from climate change

The following publications offer useful guidance for introducing environmental sustainability and climate change sensitivity into development programmes:

See also this list of references from the UNFCCC on how to mainstream climate change into development programming.

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Embedding sustainable principles in all our projects and ensuring long-term development gains

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Embedding sustainable principles in all our projects and ensuring long-term development gains

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Mainstreaming gender into joint programmes

All SDG Fund programmes mainstream gender into their implementation and monitoring plans. It uses the experience of MDG-F joint programmes that suggests a number of ways to mainstream gender approaches.

The MDG-F’s Knowledge Management Strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, led by UNDP’s Gender Unit, recommended to take into account the following criteria for designing gender-sensitive programmes:

  • Has the project/programme included gender analysis in its design, implementation, and management?
  • Does the project/programme include specific, measurable outcomes, outputs, activities and indicators related to gender equality and women’s empowerment?
  • Does the project/programme include age and sex-disaggregated data and gender statistics for the project/programme development and implementation?
  • Has the project/programme facilitated participatory processes that involve women equitably, and included their needs and contributions in all the steps of the project and/or programme cycle?
  • Have gender experts been involved in all steps of the project or programme cycle?
  • Have all the projects been rated with the Gender Marker?
  • Have a proportion of core and non-core funds been clearly indicated for gender equality and/or the empowerment of women?
  • Have all possible steps been taken to ensure gender parity in the recruitment of project staff, consultants, and/or vendors?

All our programmes have been asked to answer these questions when designing, implementing, and monitoring our programmes.

For further information, see:

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Mainstreaming gender into joint programmes

All SDG Fund programmes mainstream gender into their implementation and monitoring plans. It uses the experience of MDG-F joint programmes that suggests a number of ways to mainstream gender approaches.

The MDG-F’s Knowledge Management Strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, led by UNDP’s Gender Unit, recommended to take into account the following criteria for designing gender-sensitive programmes:

  • Has the project/programme included gender analysis in its design, implementation, and management?
  • Does the project/programme include specific, measurable outcomes, outputs, activities and indicators related to gender equality and women’s empowerment?
  • Does the project/programme include age and sex-disaggregated data and gender statistics for the project/programme development and implementation?
  • Has the project/programme facilitated participatory processes that involve women equitably, and included their needs and contributions in all the steps of the project and/or programme cycle?
  • Have gender experts been involved in all steps of the project or programme cycle?
  • Have all the projects been rated with the Gender Marker?
  • Have a proportion of core and non-core funds been clearly indicated for gender equality and/or the empowerment of women?
  • Have all possible steps been taken to ensure gender parity in the recruitment of project staff, consultants, and/or vendors?

All our programmes have been asked to answer these questions when designing, implementing, and monitoring our programmes.

For further information, see:

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Understanding how women and men, girls and boys, are affected by poverty

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Understanding how women and men, girls and boys, are affected by poverty

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