Secretary General's message for International Women's Day

Secretary General's message for International Women's Day

7 March 2019

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Women play a crucial role in the provision, management and safeguarding of wetland resources, especially water, as well as maintaining the culture and traditions yet, they are often excluded or disadvantaged in relation to decision-making process that shape their societies and their own lives.

Today, on International Women’s Day I would like to express my support for the #BalanceforBetter campaign that calls for collective action to forge a more sustainable and inclusive, gender equal world.

For centuries, women have developed symbiotic relationships with wetlands, using them to provide water, food, medicine and income for their families. Women play a crucial role in the provision, management and safeguarding of wetland resources, especially water, as well as maintaining the culture, traditions and traditional knowledge around wetlands.  

Yet, women are often excluded or disadvantaged in relation to decision-making process that shape their societies and their own lives as reported in the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Gap Report. When women are constrained from reaching their full potential through lack of inclusiveness and opportunity, that potential is lost to society as a whole.

Therefore, a critical aspect of forging a more gender-balanced world is to actively empower and facilitate the full participation of women in matters of wetland governance, remove barriers that deny them equitable access and gather data on the impact of policies and decisions specifically on women.

As a Gender Champion and as Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, I am committed to fostering a gender equal world; a place in which women and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all spheres of life. By tapping into the full potential of men and women, our world can become more balanced, resilient, sustainable and innovative.

In October 2018, 170 Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention adopted the Resolution on “Gender and Wetlands”, the first resolution of this kind which recognizes the importance of addressing gender equality and women’s empowerment in the implementation of the Convention.

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Ramsar Convention will be strengthening the skills and capacity of Contracting Parties to achieve equal participation of women and men in Ramsar Convention meetings.

Contracting Parties have committed to mainstream a gender perspective into the Convention’s work recognizing that women play a vital role as agents of development and acknowledge that gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls is crucial to making progress across all Sustainable Development Goals and targets.

As the Ramsar Convention we are strengthening the skills and capacity of Contracting Parties to achieve equal participation of women and men in Ramsar Convention meetings through the provision of training on negotiation skills, drafting of legal documents and strategic communications. Additionally, data on gender disparities and gaps will be gathered through national reports to better understand the impact of policies and decisions on women as well as further inform the actions required to ensure balanced participation of women in all aspects of wetland management

70% of the world’s wetlands have been lost since the 1700’s and degradation continues at alarming rates world-wide. A gender approach to wetland conservation and sustainable use is essential to reverse this alarming trend of wetland degradation. We need to further press for progress and accelerate actions that acknowledge the critical role of women in ensuring the conservation and wise use of wetlands.