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Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

Land Rights: UN Deputy Secretary-General Highlights Three Steps Toward Gender Equity

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed has highlighted three key steps towards gender equity: including women in all decision-making forums; designing gender-responsive sustainable development and land frameworks and accelerating efforts to eliminate discrimination and violence, especially against rural women.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed gave the highlights during the Gender Caucus at the recently concluded United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) 15th Conference of Parties (COP15), which took place from May 9 to 20 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

Referencing the widening gender gap in food security as a sign of worsening conditions, she noted sustainable land management (SLM) is a key enabler for gender equality and prosperity.

Dominique Claudine Ouattara, First Lady of Côte d'Ivoire chaired the Gender Caucus.

Denise Nyakéru Tshisekedi, First Lady of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, reminded participants that women account for half the labor force in sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural value chain, yet hold only 18% of land titles. Lorena Aguilar Revelo, former Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Costa Rica, presented a study on desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD)’s differentiated impacts on women which, among others, analyzes structural problems like inequitable access to land.

At the meeting, Vicky Ford, UK Ministry for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, said that women are often excluded from decision making, disinherited, left without land when their husbands die and prevented access to and control over the land needed to feed their families.

Calling COP15 the most important conference in the history of the UNCCD, Executive Secretary Thiaw stressed gender equity as key to a balanced foundation for the UNCCD. Highlighting that sustainable development cannot be achieved if half of the population and the producers are left behind, he invited governments to join the Abidjan Declaration on Achieving Gender Equality for Successful Land Restoration and commit to improve the lives and rights of women and girls.

UN General Assembly President Shahid lamented that women and girls, while bearing the brunt of negative impacts from climate change and land degradation, are often not recognized as farmers or value chain actors and excluded from agricultural extension services and rights to land.

This story was produced as part of the 2022 UNCCD Virtual Reporting Fellowship, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. It was originally published in the Nigerian Tribune on May 26, 2022. It has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: Amina Mohammed / Credit: Kiara Worth, ISD/ENB.