Women’s Rights and Empowerment

    Women are a fundamental part of the existence of any society, yet they are not integrated in the scheme of things especially in the area of decision making and development efforts. Women’s restricted access to natural resources ranks high amongst factors that engender gender disparities and confine women to impoverishment and deprivation. In nearly all societies, women still have unequal access to information and capital and less power to make decisions. Women’s historic disadvantages – their restricted access to resources and information and their limited power in decision making- make them most vulnerable to the impacts of environmental degradation and related problems. Nowadays though, many successfully implemented projects and programs as well as initiatives (at home and abroad) project the importance of strengthening the role of women, increasing their representation, access to information as well as visibility at local and international levels.

    At the 2000 United Nations Millennium Summit, 191 governments reaffirmed their commitment to women’s empowerment and adopted the Millennium Declaration, agreeing to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women as effective ways to combat poverty, hunger, and disease, and to stimulate development that is truly sustainable. Notwithstanding far reaching global policy agendas that promotes women’s equal rights and empowerment, women’s access to natural resources remains a big challenge.

    With better access to information and skills acquisition opportunities, and unrestricted access to natural resources, the ability of women to claim their rights and achieve status in society such as economic independence and political representation will be enhanced. It is no longer news that women’s empowerment and gender equality are central to poverty eradication and environmental sustainability. As rightly declared by Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), “Women must be at the heart of relief efforts and the re-building of shattered communities” .Not a few of these women who have benefitted from such projects have made a difference in their communities. As a strategy to for contributing to women rights and empowerment, WISE enhances women’s ability to access and control natural resources.

Our specific objectives amongst others include:

Promotion of women’s property rights

Advancement of gender equality in sustaining the environment

Generation of opportunities for women to have access to and control over natural resources

Address environmental health issues with specific focus on women

Projection of gender mainstreaming in natural resource management

Involvement in women networks and coalitions

Promote environmental justice in communities