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Gender continues to be “one of the world’s strongest markers for disadvantage”.  All too often the role of women in different spheres of life is overlooked or even denied. This is especially true of the environmental and economic sectors where women’s access to resources is often more limited, leading to differences in benefits derived from their use, resulting in important inequalities. Yet, today it is widely recognized that gender parity can be a real driver of change and of efforts to achieve sustainable development. Women, especially in indigenous communities, have a
differentiated knowledge about resources that could make significant contributions to the development of society as a whole.

Gender mainstreaming has been the primary methodology used to integrate a gender approach into development and/or environmental efforts. Gender mainstreaming is not simply about paying lip-service to equality between men and women by adding women’s participation to existing strategies and programmes. Rather, it seeks to transform unequal social and institutional structures to realize the full creative and productive potential of women to reduce vulnerability and enhance efficiency and effectiveness of development projects and programmes.

Gender mainstreaming is gaining in currency among policy makers, international organizations and donors. The importance of gender mainstreaming in environmental efforts and poverty eradication has been recognized in a wide range of global agreements and conventions, including, but not limited to, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the only legally binding international agreement that links environment and development issues to the land agenda.

In light of the importance of the role of women in efforts to combat desertification, the IUCN Gender Office has teamed up with the Secretariat of the UNCCD to develop a Gender Policy Framework (GPF) for the UNCCD and its Secretariat. The following pages present a summary of the main components of this Framework and suggestions for its implementation.

The full text of the Policy is available online at

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