UNCCD executive general Ibrahim Thiaw along with other members at the UN COP-14 | Twitter: @UNCCD
UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw along with other members at the UN COP-14 | Twitter: @UNCCD
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New Delhi: The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) conducted its first ‘Gender Caucus’ to specifically address the issue of women’s land rights and their participation in land resource conservation.

UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said while the issue was easy to introduce but very difficult to implement.

“In most of the world, women do not have land rights. Without owning land, they have no access to finance and are thus left behind,” he added at the opening of the Gender Caucus, which took place on the sidelines of the ongoing 14th Conference of Parties (COP) to UNCCD in Greater Noida.

Thiaw also called for legislative actions to improve women’s access to land.

“I would like to call upon all parties that are in the position to assist, to help change legislations that block women’s access to land and put in place incentives to promote gender equality,” he said.

Also read: At UN convention, scientists propose global indicator to measure droughts

The first ‘Gender Caucus’

The caucus facilitated informal interactions between representatives of civil society organisations, faith-based groups and government representatives from various countries where issues such as land tenure, drought and sandstorms were discussed.

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Jackelline Siles, an officer with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), told ThePrint that this was the first time that the ‘Gender Caucus’ was being conducted at the COP.

“The event hopes to give a platform to consider the issue of land desertification through the gender lens. We hope that this interaction will help government representatives understand the concerns of women’s groups and incorporate relevant actions in their decisions,” Siles said.

The first-ever Gender Action Plan (GAP) to the UNCCD was adopted at COP 13 in Ordos, China. The primary aim of the plan is to facilitate the implementation of gender-related decisions and mandates that are adopted by the UNCCD.

According to the UNCCD website, the GAP recognises the need for women to participate in the “implementation of land and natural resource use policies. It also recognises that gender dimension should be mainstreamed into all targets and goals in activities under the Convention to increase their effectiveness.” 

Some priority areas were identified to achieve these gender objectives. These include participation in decision-making, integrating women’s economic empowerment in the implementation process to eradicate poverty, strengthening women’s land rights and improving access to resources and enhancing women’s access to improved knowledge and technologies 

India is hosting the UNCCD’s COP 14 from 2 to 13 September to decide on a course of action to combat desertification.

 Nearly 8,000 representatives from over 190 countries are attending the conference.

Also read: Need to tackle land degradation to maintain global peace, says top UN official


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