KIGALI - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is seeking to empower women in developing countries to play a leading role in promoting environment and sustainable development. This was revealed Monday by the Director of UNDP/Gender Team, Winnie Byanyima, during the opening of a five-day UNDP Gender Equality retreat at Serena Hotel.
She said women in developing countries would be assisted in promoting strategies aimed at fighting environmental degradation.
“Gender equality should be manifested in environmental protection and promotion of sustainable development in developing countries like in other areas, with a view of promoting development,” Byanyima said.
She explained that gender equality, environment and sustainable development were part of the main objectives of the UNDP Gender equality strategy for Africa which seeks to promote equitable distribution of resources in developing countries.
“This year, we want to improve our ways of supporting gender equality in developing countries so that women can take part in every development programme in their respective countries,” Byanyima said.
The UN official pointed out that it was the reason behind selecting this year’s theme for the retreat which is “Deepening the understanding of gender issues in the area of environment and sustainable development.’’
Byanyima explained that environment affects every human activity in Africa, and therefore it was vital for women to contribute in its protection and sustainable development.
The UNDP Gender equality strategy aims at promoting gender equality, in environment and sustainable development, poverty reduction and democracy within the next four years.
Anthony Kwaku Omeng-Boamah, the UNDP Country Director said that UNDP would strengthen women capacities to increase their participation in the fight against environmental degradation and promotion of sustainable development.
“We want gender equality to be manifested in all aspects that aim at promoting developing in Africa such that the scarce resources are effectively put into use,” Omeng, who is also the UN Resident Coordinator said.
He explained that gender equality should be prioritized in African countries to enable women participation in all development programmes such as poverty reduction strategies.
He added that the retreat was held in Rwanda purposely to learn from the country’s experience in gender equality and environmental protection strategies.
During the first session, a new four-year corporate Gender Equality Strategy was presented and its implementation discussed.
As its main objective, the retreat will look at the orientation of UNDP staff on the new strategy and kick-start its implementation, specifically focusing on how to measure results and develop reporting frameworks for the strategy.
This year’s retreat will specifically focus on how to link two important issues – gender and development. It was explained that each annual retreat is an occasion to benefit from the expertise of the global community, and to deepen the understanding on a given area of the strategy.
This year’s thematic focus will be on climate change and the need to strengthen the integration of a gender perspective in environmental issues.
“This is mainly to exchange experiences,” said UNDP Rwanda Gender Advisor, Susanne Kozak.
Participants emphasized the need to learn from each other and share experiences.Delegates will also identify opportunities for strengthening collaboration and will discuss in depth several existing programmes and possible new joint initiatives.
The retreat will also facilitate the flow of information between headquarters and the field by providing an overview of developments. It will also get feedbacks and updates from representatives at the regional and country levels.