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Abstract

Women constitute the bulk of people who rely on land in many of the regions most affected by desertification, land degradation and drought. One in three people on earth depend directly on agriculture, while nearly 80% of employed women in least developed countries report agriculture as their primary livelihood. Food availability fluctuations also impact women’s role in food production and intra-family food distribution, with women often reducing their nutritional intake and that of their children, with dire health consequences.

Women’s input, knowledge and guidance are indispensable to any productive, sustainable efforts to avoid, reduce and reverse degraded land as mandated under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). To realize the full potential of the new Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) approach, the varied roles, priorities, contributions and influences of both women and men in land use and management must be understood, recognized and rewarded. Transformative LDN projects and programmes that overcome gender biases, integrate measures to promote women’s empowerment and foster inclusion and equal opportunities stand to leverage and gain co-benefits. Such efforts could also accelerate progress toward reaching multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular those on advancing gender equality, ending poverty, improving food security, mitigating climate change and enriching life on land.