April 20, 2024

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IUCN President and Director General Call for Gender Parity in Environmental Leadership on International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day, the IUCN President, Razan Al Mubarak and Dr Grethel Aguilar, Director General unveiled new data showing that gender parity in environmental leadership is still a distant goal, with progress slowing significantly in recent years.

According to the latest research from IUCN, women are still vastly underrepresented in decision-making positions in environmental and environment-related ministries. The data suggests that at the current rate of progress, achieving gender parity in leadership of these ministries could be delayed by as much as 162 years.

Despite making up a significant portion of the global agricultural labour force, women continue to face limitations on their property rights in nearly 40 percent of the world’s economies. Additionally, less than 15 percent of landholders are women, highlighting the ongoing disparities in access to and control over resources.

However, the President and Director General also noted that when women are empowered to participate equally in conservation and climate action, the results are overwhelmingly positive. Gender-balanced or women-led forest and fisheries management groups have been shown to improve ecosystem protection and restoration, increase accountability and transparency, and ensure more equitable distribution of benefits.

In response to these challenges, IUCN has taken steps to address gender inequalities and empower women and girls to participate fully in environmental and climate action. A landmark decision was made in 2021 to protect environmental and human rights defenders, especially women, from oppression and violence.

As IUCN is currently being led by two women from different parts of the world, the organization is committed to prioritizing gender equality in environmentalism. The President and Director General emphasized the importance of investing in gender equality and supporting women’s environmental leadership across the sector.

With urgent environmental crises facing the planet, there is no time to waste in achieving gender parity in environmental leadership. Women are already demonstrating their effectiveness, resilience, and resourcefulness in addressing these challenges, and it is crucial that they are given equal opportunities to lead positive change for people and nature alike.

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