Global Resources

Empowering drylands women

Publisher: Drylands Development Centre, UNDP
Publication Date: Jan 2014

The Integrated Drylands Development Programme (IDDP) is a global UNDP initiative to promote sustainable development in the drylands, and advance the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. This topic brief highlights the important role that gender plays in this context of sustainable development, in particular the role of women in the Arab States and Africa. In these regions, inequality and stereotypical gender norms often prevent women from contributing to the sustainable development of drylands, despite possessing a wealth of traditional knowledge and skills. To help address this, the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment was made a core component of the IDDP in its efforts for poverty reduction and environmental conservation in partner countries, and this brief summarises some of the results.

 

The majority of the brief describes IDDP related programmes and activities in Africa and the Arab States, and how they have helped to reduce poverty, increase resilience, and empower women. Case studies presented include: the strengthening of women’s groups in Morocco through skill-building and cooperatisation; improving energy and water access, and participation in their management, for women in Tunisia; the mainstreaming of desertification and climate change issues in Benin through the Programme to Support Drylands Development Activities, which benefited women’s energy efficiency and productivity; support for the diversification of women’s livelihoods in Kenya; and capacity-building initiatives in Tanzania that included poultry farming, tree planting, and beekeeping.

 

The brief closes by taking a look to the future, reiterating the commitment of the IDDP to scale-up its efforts toward gender equality and women’s empowerment, as per Outcome Four of the UNDP Strategic Plan for 2014-2017. In the Arab states, IDDP’s approach will be two-fold: stepping up support within country projects to better address issues concerning gender in mainstreaming, livelihoods, and natural resource management; and supporting gender specific activities in partner countries to advance women’s empowerment. In Africa, significant improvements in working conditions, income levels, and the overall status of women will be encouraged to continue through a commitment that 50% of direct beneficiaries from this programme will continue to be women. This is also in recognition of their key role in all aspects of agriculture, from cultivation to processing. Specifically, the IDDP will contribute to: enhancing women’s livelihoods; reducing wage gaps based on gender; strengthening women’s role in decision-making for drylands development; and improving women’s access to environmental goods and services.