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Achieving gender equality and a healthy environment together

08 March 2021
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Women are agents of transformational change, and they have unique knowledge and responsibilities in the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. This International Women’s Day is an opportunity to highlight the importance of addressing gender-biodiversity data gaps to achieve gender equality and biodiversity objectives, together.

Women across the world play a vital role in the management of natural resources and the wellbeing and livelihood of their households and communities. At the same time, women rely on healthy ecosystems and are heavily affected by environmental degradation as a result of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Understanding women’s contribution to the environment

Globally, over a third of employed women are working in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries but only 13.8% of landholders are women. Despite all their contributions, most of women’s labour, which also includes care and domestic work, remains not only unpaid but also invisible due to lack of data. Furthermore, women are often excluded or underrepresented in decision-making processes and poorly considered in budget allocations and conservation initiatives.

 The linkages between gender equality and environmental outcomes have been acknowledged in a number of international agreements and intergovernmental processes, such as the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the other Rio Conventions, to name a few. However, more needs to be done to urgently address the absence of data on the gender-environment dimension.

A framework for the future 

UN Women and UNEP-WCMC,  have explored practical ways for addressing gender-biodiversity data gaps, in close collaboration with the CBD Secretariat and with inputs from gender and biodiversity experts.  This work aims to support the implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (the upcoming and highly anticipated set of new global goals for nature) while building synergies with the SDGs and relevant conventions to achieve both gender equality and global biodiversity objectives.

Here are four recommendations for integrating a gender perspective into the post-2020 framework:

1.      Addressing gender-biodiversity data gaps:

Making use of gender-specific indicators from the Sustainable Development Goals indicator framework to monitor progress towards targets related to full, equal and meaningful participation in decision-making processes, and equal rights over relevant resources.

2.      Using gender-specific indicators and sex-disaggregated data:

Integrating gender-specific indicators and disaggregating data by sex for all indicators that relate to people can help to embed a gender perspective throughout the monitoring framework for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

3.      A gender plan of action:

Developing the post-2020 gender plan of action for the CBD to serve as the implementation mechanism for monitoring and reporting on progress on the gender-biodiversity dimension of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

4.      National capacity development:

Considering national capacity development on gender-sensitive data collection and indicator-use within the capacity development and resource mobilisation components of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework will help to ensure that gender-biodiversity data gaps are effectively addressed

These actions focus on making use of data and gender-specific indicators as tools for evidence-based policy change. The systematic collection and use of data will also help us track progress towards the effective participation and representation of women in environmental conservation, which in turn will significantly contribute towards reducing poverty and strengthening food security and climate resilience.

UN Women Executive Director, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said, “It’s time to make women’s contributions to a healthy environment visible. We can bring power and attention to the valuable roles that women play as leaders and advocates for issues such as biodiversity and sustainability that matter both to women and all of society. That is why UN Women, the CBD Secretariat, and UNEP-WCMC are working together to ensure that the agency and leadership women bring to biodiversity conservation are embedded in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

The next decade is a crucial window for achieving the SDGs, including gender equality, and for tackling the global nature crisis. These two goals can and should go hand in hand as we seek to build a better future where people and nature thrive together.


The brief Integrating a gender perspective in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework is available here.