The importance of women empowerment in combating land desertification was emphasised at a conference organised by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) here on Thursday. Speaking at the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 14) to the UNCCD, Nishtha Satyam, Deputy Representative, UN Women India said, "In a country like India, women account for most of the agricultural work but are still invisible when it comes to their identity.
"This makes it absolutely important that we include gender considerations when we look at land degradation." Stressing that women's rights were at the centre of the issue of land degradation, she said, "In a period of two years, we are launching the manual on mainstreaming gender considerations in land degradation neutrality (LDN) projects."
The approach was discussed at the "Gender Caucus" conducted at the COP 14 at Greater Noida on Thursday. Speaking at the session, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said the issue was easy to introduce but its implementation was tough.
"In most parts of the world, women do not have land rights. Without owning land, they have no access to finance and are thus left behind," Thiaw said at the opening session of the Gender Caucus. The Gender Action Plan of the UNCCD, adopted at the last COP in China, includes ensuring women's participation in decisions taken during the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of initiatives to implement the convention.
It emphasises on integrating women's economic empowerment in UNCCD implementation activities in order to eradicate their extreme poverty, strengthening their land rights and access to resources. It also includes enhancing women's access to improved knowledge and technologies that relate to effective UNCCD implementation.
The panelists discussed the need for legislative actions to improve women's access to land. "I would like to call upon all parties that are in a position to assist to help change legislations that block women's access to land and put in place incentives to promote gender equality," Thiaw said.
The panelists said the event aimed to provide a platform to consider the issue of land desertification through the gender lens. The UNCCD Science Policy Interface (SPI) called on governments to account for poverty as a root cause, and at the same time, a consequence of land degradation.
It said gender inequality played a significant role in land degradation-related poverty. "In developing countries, land degradation impacts men and women differently, mainly due to unequal access to land, water, credit, extension services and technology, underscoring the need to address the persistent gender inequalities that fuel women's extreme poverty.
"Land degradation drivers -- whether poor land-use management, over-extraction of natural resources or unpredictable climate patterns -- intensify by insecure land tenure, unsustainable farming systems, short-sighted policies and persistent social and gender inequalities," the SPI said. The UNCCD 2018-2030 strategic framework mandates all its stakeholders and partners to adopt gender-responsive policies and measures, strive for full and effective participation of both men and women in planning, decision making and implementation at all levels and enhance the empowerment of women, girls and youngsters in the affected areas.
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