Commission on the Status of Women New York

CSW 56 Official Side Event: Supporting Rural Women’s Engagement in Sustainable Natural Resource Management in Conflict and Fragile Settings
March 8 2012, 11:30am-12:45pm. UN North Lawn Building, Conference Room A

From collecting water and gathering wood for fuel, to participating in farming, and to mining extractive resources, natural resources are critical for rural women’s and their families’ livelihoods. At the same time, rural women hold an abundance of knowledge about these resources and play a crucial role in managing them. Yet few have legally recognized rights. This situation generally worsens in conflicts environments through insecurity, migration and violence. Despite this, women’s engagement in community decision-making, in the management of lands and finances, and a variety of other roles can increase, with a “roll-back” in these opportunities post-conflict. Exploring an under-researched area, the panel brings together three global experts to discuss the inter-linkages between peacebuilding, natural resource management and gender equality. Panelists will examine how these areas inter-relate and will explore the impact of women’s participation in natural resource management on generating and maintaining social equality and stability.

Hosted by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), the discussion will be moderated by Henk-Jan Brinkman, Chief of the Policy, Planning and Application Branch in the Peacebuilding Support Office. Panelists are -
Dr. Mishkat Al Moumin was Iraq’s Minister of the Environment in the government of 2004-2005, where she designed the Ministry and developed a new environmental law. She is currently a scholar teaching and researching environmental policies in developing countries and research interest focuses on the security implications of environmental policies. 

Carl Bruch is a Senior Attorney and Co-Director of International Programs at the Environmental Law Institute (ELI).  He has helped countries and organizations throughout Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe develop and strengthen their environmental laws, improve institutions, and build capacity.  He is currently coordinating a global initiative with UNEP, the University of Tokyo, and McGill University to examine experiences in managing natural resources to support post-conflict peacebuilding. 
Rachael Knight is an attorney with expertise in the areas of land tenure security, access to justice, and legal empowerment of the poor. She is currently the director of Namati's Community Land Protection Program, which works to support rural communities to seek documentation for their customary land claims in Uganda, Liberia and Mozambique. 

Please contact Sharon Fleming at UN Women to RSVP.

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02-28-2012 Climate Change as Catalyst for Access How Grassroots Women Obtain Tools for Sustainability_CSW Side Event Climate Wise Women

On February 28th, 2012, Climate Wise Women and UN-NGLS co-hosted a CSW side event “Climate Change as Catalyst for Access: How Grassroots Women Obtain Tools for Sustainability”, with guest speakers from Rockefeller Foundation, UNDP, and Energia. Ms. Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio from Rockefeller Foundation described how climate change affects women more unfavorably than men, with examples from Indonesia and New Orleans. But she also noted that climate change as a catalyst could create women leaders because of their strong will to survive, as Rockefeller Foundation had witnessed from many women around the world, especially through their climate change resilience network. Ms. Susan Alzner from UN-NGLS underlined the importance of organizing grassroots with women to tackle the issues of climate change. Ms. Constance Okollet, a peasant farmer from Uganda talked about real challenges faced in her town due to climate change, including poverty, population increase, poor health, gender issues, and the lack of education. Ms. Thilmeeza Hussain from Maldives spoke about how women can create avenues to influence climate policy and decision making process. She stressed on building capacity and leadership for women and youth via education, empowerment and democracy. Ms. Lucy Wanjiru of UNDP introduced various gender sensitive climate change programs in UNDP, to mainstream gender issues in every part of their development programs, including climate financing and green economy. Through the partnership approach, UNDP is promoting women’s green business initiatives, to enhance women’s access to economic policymaking, manufacturing, scaling up businesses, and climate finance. Ms. Gail Karlsson from Energia introduced their women-led green energy programs, but she addressed the challenges in attracting adequate funding and investment for rural women’s energy initiatives due to the lack of attention and difficulties in communication. She urged for more financing and investment to scale up the initiatives and provide better capacity building for rural women in developing countries.
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 February 27th, 2012 US China Joint Panel  on Rural Women and SD_CSW Side Event

On February 27th, 2012, United States of America and China held a joint panel on Rural Women and Sustainable Development as one of the side events during the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations and Ambassador WANG Min, Deputy Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations, both underscored the important leadership roles and responsibilities of their country to promote gender issues and sustainable development for Rio+20. UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet said that rural women were on the frontlines of climate change, managing natural resources so they can feed their families and communities. Yet, rural women were also hit hardest by export oriented agriculture, climate change, and volatility in food and energy prices. They lack equal access to technology and infrastructure, clean water, and national and international markets, and they need to participate in decision-making. To tackle these problems, UN Women aims “to ensure that women’s empowerment and gender equality feature prominently in the Rio+20 outcomes”, she noted. Ambassador Melanne Verveer, United States’ Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, explained the linkage between environmental issues and women’s issues, and stressed on the rural women’s potential as powerful agents and leaders to tackle the challenges, especially for energy access. Madame MENG Xiaosi, Vice President of All-China Women’s Federation said there would be no sustainable development unless women were empowered and their productivity was increased. She introduced major efforts made for rural women in China, including compulsory education services, elimination of taxes in the rural areas, the use of microfinance and micro credit loans, training for women and making sure to have at least one female representative in each town. Madame Jiko Luveni, Minister for Poverty Alleviation, Women and Social Welfare of Fiji introduced Fiji’s progress towards gender equality in decision making process, managing violence against women, and introducing rural women to the commercial sector via economic activities by building capacity and leadership. She stressed how empowering economic stability of rural women could lesson domestic abuse against women and reduce poverty. Ms. Joyce Nangobi, Executive Director of Slum Women’s Initiative for Development of Uganda emphasized on women’s access to land, market, and credit, and empowering women at grassroot levels.

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03-02-2012 First Week Summary of the 56th Session Commission on the Status of Women

The 56th Session Commission on the Status of Women
Summary related to UNEP (Between Feb.27 and Mar.2, 2012)

Unleashing the potential of rural women — a quarter of the world’s population — was critical to ending global poverty and hunger, high-level speakers said as the Commission on the Status of Women opened its fifty-sixth annual session. Deputy Secretary-General ASHA-ROSE MIGIRO said that while rural women and girls made up one fourth of the world’s population, “their contributions and priorities have been largely overlooked”. Their economic empowerment must be accelerated, not least because it would have an immensely positive impact on development indicators across the spectrum of society. MARJON V. KAMARA (Liberia), Chair of the fifty-sixth session, said that the subsequent outputs should feed into other intergovernmental processes, such as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable development (“Rio+20”), to deliver on international commitments to advance the rights of women and girls in all spheres of human endeavour. “Ad hoc interventions are not enough; the broader policy environment must be responsive to the rights and needs of rural women and girls,” she continued, adding that action on financing for rural development, agriculture and climate change should prioritize rural women and girls. MANU SAREEN, Minister for Gender Equality of Denmark, spoke on behalf of the European Union, saying that empowering rural women had been shown to increase production and productivity, raise household incomes and facilitate adaptation to the impacts of climate change. ZENEBU TADESSE, Minister for Women, Children and Youth Affairs of Ethiopia, said the multiple challenges facing rural women, including poverty, malnutrition and food insecurity, had been exacerbated by the interrelated economic, energy and food crises, as well as climate change. In this regard, Ethiopian Energy Development Programme had taken effective steps to introduce new technology, such as energy-saving stoves.

INGRID FISKAA, Norway’s State Secretary for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, said one crystal clear message was that gender equality and the empowerment of women were preconditions for sustainable development, and “doing the right thing for women and for the planet would require a change of mindset […] among the rich and powerful elites around the world.” Addressing male leaders and asking them to “stop promoting the short-term self-interest” and to consider the long-term collective good, she added that the Rio+20 in four months would be a test for this. IOLANDA CINTURA, Minister for Women and Social Action of Mozambique, said women were the mainstay of her country’s rural economy, and the Government had taken several initiatives to empower them in key areas, such as health, education, agriculture, the environment and energy. The Government’s strategy on gender, the environment and climate change aimed to ensure equal access to and control over natural resources as well as technology to adapt to and mitigate climate change. SHIRIN SHARMIN CHAUDHURY, Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs of Bangladesh, said women’s empowerment required a pro-poor strategy. In this light, Bangladesh government used the Climate change Trust Fund to protect women from the particular effects of climate change that threatened them.

Speaking on financing for gender issues, LIANE SCHALATEK, Associate Director, Heinrich Böll Foundation, North America, said that, since women were disproportionately affected by climate due to gender-based discrimination and norms, responses to climate change could not afford to be “gender-blind”. The global experience of development finance showed that expenditures that took gender equality into account were more effective and efficient. Climate financing could not occur in a vacuum, she said, stressing that it must ensure women’s rights. In this light, she noted that the recently created Global Green Climate Fund, which contained five key references to gender, was the first climate change-financing instrument to integrate gender considerations from the outset, which was meaningful on the ground that it had acknowledged the need for a gender-sensitive approach and recognized women as a crucial group for input and participation in the Fund’s strategies and activities.

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