Droughts and desertification continue to affect large swathes of our planet. Considered by the United Nations as a major threat to sustainable development, droughts are estimated to impact over three-quarters of the world’s population.
Suffering from discriminatory laws and unequal access to natural resources, women are often disproportionately affected by the effects of droughts, land degradation, and biodiversity loss. Recognizing their rights to secure land ownership and to participate in decision-making processes is key to achieving inclusive and equitable sustainable development.
In an op-ed recently published by CNBC Africa on World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stresses that the time has come to harness women’s potential as changemakers and key contributors to sustainable development, particularly on the African continent.
African women have a vital role to play in conservation and natural resource management. However, they remain subject to discriminatory practices and norms that limit their ability to fulfill their role as leaders and advocates for sustainable development.
For President Sirleaf, looking at environmental challenges through the double prism of conservation and gender equality is key to securing positive outcomes for people and the planet:
“The linkages between gender equality, land degradation, and sustainable development are undeniable… Empowering women economically and socially not only improves their own well-being but also leads to positive outcomes for their families, communities, and the environment.”
Highlighting its mission to promote women’s leadership and economic empowerment, Madam Sirleaf notes that the EJS Center strives to break down the barriers that hinder women’s full participation. African leaders, governments, and civil society should play a part in eliminating these barriers, she adds.
The EJS Center believes that equipping African women with the right skills and knowledge can help them fulfill their role as effective leaders and promoters of sustainable development:
“Good and thoughtful leadership is what will catapult Africa ahead. We recognize that empowering women is not just a matter of justice but also a prerequisite for achieving a holistic sustainable ecosystem”
Read Madam Sirleaf’s full op-ed here.