UN official warns against exclusion of women in environmental management
The United Nations wants more women included at different levels of decision-making to help consolidate the gains already made on environmental sustainability, gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The UN Women Deputy Executive Director Ms Lakshmi Puri, warns that overlooking gender equality issues and ignoring the voices, needs and priorities of half the world’s population in environmental responses,including climate change, will not only yield sub-optimal results but also lead to the exacerbation of existing inequalities and reverse progress already made.
She said the adoption of Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, twenty years ago served to pave the way for the active involvement of women in environmental decision-making at all levels, integration of their concerns and perspectives in policies and programmes, and establishment of ways to assess the impact of development and environmental policies on women.
“However, the Platform for Action remains an unfinished agenda that requires political recomm
itment and accelerated implementation, including the critical area of concern for “women and the environment,” she said during the just concluded UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi.
She revealed that UN Women has already launched a Beijing+20 campaign entitled “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It!” besides putting special emphasis on women’s role on the environment.
“We hope that our efforts will have a multiplier effect to create mass awareness and a broad movement in support of gender equality and women’s rights, not just among the general public but also among new constituencies, leaders and decision-makers,” she explained.
The UN official said that gender perspectives must now be mainstreamed in all other goals, especially those with a strong environmental dimension, such as access to water and energy.
“It is critical to ensure that environmental dimensions are captured in a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal on achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment,” she said.
She noted that women are environmental leaders and actors and therefore, there can never be comprehensive environmental management and decision-making without their full participation.
“Women are holders of traditional knowledge, managers of resources, environmental activists, innovators, caretakers of livelihoods, CEOs, parliamentarians, Heads of State and Ministers,” she explained.
The Deputy Executive Director said that all regions continue to witness the very concrete impacts of climate change and hence the need to urgently put in place adaptation and mitigation strategies which must be aligned with gender perspectives.
The UN official observed that women are the hardest hit by harsh climatic conditions and cited food security, sustainable agriculture, energy, livelihoods, health and natural resource management and use among areas of concern.
She underscored the need to create a conducive environment that allows women to exercise their rights as resilient leaders, innovators, and contributors in all aspects of environmental management to help deliver the highest returns.
Puri called on governments and stakeholders to uphold their commitments in Rio by ensuring that women benefit from equal rights, access, participation and leadership in the economy, society, decision-making and resource allocation, so that they can truly fulfill their role as environmental leaders..