Every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day (IWD), the global community comes together to champion the rights of women, marking an opportunity to not just commemorate women, women’s achievements, and progress toward equality, but to also take stock—to carefully study the gains made and to dig deeper into the challenges. Women continue to play an integral role in addressing the complex challenges our world faces on a daily basis—but data shows our contributions as women are still undervalued.
First celebrated in 1911, this year’s IWD also recognizes the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA)—a key global framework agreed to advance women’s rights and make comprehensive commitments under 12 critical areas of concern, one of them being the environment. Two decades later, BPfA remains an inspirational roadmap illuminating the path toward a more just world, a path on which many significant steps have been taken.
IWD 2015 theme is Make It Happen aiming at encouraging effective action for advancing and recognizing women. On this day, The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and through IUCN Global Gender Office would like to shed light on different achievements happening in West Asia.
The Global Gender Office (GGO) celebrates women around the world and supports all human efforts that encourage social justice by providing equal access to the goods and services of nature through sustainable development.
The GGO through the Regional Office for West Asia (ROWA) contributes towards IUCN’s vision and mission by providing innovative approaches, technical support, policy development and capacity building to a wide range of partners, ensuring gender equality is central to sustainable global environmental solutions.
Therefore, ROWA considers gender a critical issue in its work, since gender equity is an opportunity for transformative and sustainable development. This has been made clear through the Drylands, Livelihoods and Gender Programme activities, some of which contribute to the rehabilitation of rangelands in West Asia, to further provide nature-based solutions and ecosystem services needed to improve livelihoods through better participatory management, gender equality and better integration of the local communities.
Distinct gender roles within Bedouin communities due to customs and traditions largely undermine the indigenous knowledge and skills of local women. Decision making and management on the household level and community level are mainly governed by males in the community; in contrast with females who are in direct contact with natural resources for livestock feeding or meeting family needs. This reduces women’s productivity and restrict their contribution in agricultural production, economic growth and families and communities well-being.
Therefore, the Drylands, Livelihoods and Gender Programme encourages women participation in its projects to improve their livelihoods through:
- Women participating in workshops, conferences and exchange visits.
- Women participating in projects’ activities and revolving funds.
- Raising men awareness about women’s productive role in natural resources.
- Conduct workshops and courses for increasing awareness about women’s rights.
Securing Rights and Restoring Lands for Improved Livelihoods Project, for example, hired 50 ladies in Hima Bani Hashem to collect medicinal plants for their economic benefits and another 10 ladies in drying and packaging unit for medicinal plants. The project’s courses for increasing awareness targeted 844 men and 521 women, where 65% of them were young people.
Involving women to a greater extent in local management decisions and processes would help revive traditional practices, alleviate poverty and thus improve standards of living, which has been made clear through the Mainstreaming Gender in Improved Pastoralism Publication.
For more information, please contact:
Ms. Fidaa Haddad, IUCN ROWA the Drylands, Livelihoods and Gender Programme Manager & Gender Focal Point at: