Women’s Land Rights Key to Enacting Gender-Responsive International Climate Change Action

Project: Mexican Indigenous Women Uniting for Land Protection

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According to a recent article from National Geographic discussing the Paris Agreement and its impact on climate change, the international negotiations left a few gaps in place, and if not addressed, these shortcomings  may have even more wide-reaching implications for global warming.

The article states that, “Among these key gaps are gender-responsiveness and attention to land rights. Better securing women’s land rights is a critical and largely ignored step toward climate change action and broader sustainable development.” This is something we have seen in much of our work, particularly through our partnership with Semillas — the only women’s fund in Mexico — which supports land rights for Indigenous women in five Mexican states.

Photo: Semillas
Photo: Semillas

Securing women’s rights to land is one approach that can offer a range of benefits tied to both climate change and socio-economic development. This approach can be particularly effective in developing countries, whose rural populations tend to depend on land, forests, and agriculture for their livelihoods, where women make up the majority of agricultural labor, and where women’s land rights are the most insecure. Since the agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU) sector produces roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, the confluence of land, women and sustainable development—and how nations manage that confluence—has critical implications for climate change.

Research suggests that secure land tenure leads to a greater sense of ownership over land, better prevention of soil erosion, and increased likelihood of afforestation (tree planting) which is an important method of creating emissions-mitigating carbon sinks, and which can also provide immediate benefits to rural women who depend on ecosystem health to continue successfully farming, gathering firewood, and accessing potable water.

Taking a gender-responsive, land rights-based approach to climate change action—particularly with respect to AFOLU— can help a nation to fulfill its commitments to the UNFCCC, while at the same time fulfilling its commitments to the women and other vulnerable populations that so many INDCs specifically pledge to protect.

Read the full article here.