Fida Haddad – Programme Manager of the Drylands, livelihoods and Gender Programme writes on International Womens Day 2016
Women are active agents, as their vital role falls in families, bearing significant responsibilities for accessing services and resources such as health and reproductive health and rights, education, water, food, as well as humanitarian relief in times of crisis. Their role are supporting the change in the attitude, behavior, and livelihoods that are needed for successful development. A focus on women's rights is not an add-on to policy and laws but an essential part of any development strategy.
I believe that the region is at a crossroads especially with the war and crisis, therefore we should address the increasing number of pressing development and environmental challenges that clearly make up threats in the progress of achieving gender equity and countries' commitment on CEDAW such as climate change. Climate change will threaten the basic pillars of development. Men and women possess unique vulnerabilities to climate change impacts, largely based on their respective roles in society. The disadvantages of women in our region will make her more vulnerable, especially in the agriculture sector where at least 80% of women are unpaid and unable to obtain resources to become entrepreneurs or to support their family's income.
Even our governments have made various improvements on the women situation but these have not necessarily been translated into gender equality in other environmental domains such as unequal access to land, economic or other livelihood opportunities and civic and political participation rates. To ensure gender-equal governance, policies and interventions should be planned based on the key environmental resources people use, how they use such resources, who the primary users are, and how equitable that use amongst stakeholders is.
Inclusive gender mainstreaming is an opportunity for transformative and sustainable development in the region.