This year there will be many galvanizing moments including the recognition of the five-year milestone towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs, in a cohesive and integrated manner seek to achieve many targets which specifically recognise women’s equality and empowerment as both the objective, and as part of the solution. International Women’s Day 2020, marks a pivotal moment for the advancement of gender equality worldwide, and as the global community pauses to take stock, it is necessary to highlight the progress made while calling attention to the work that still needs to be done. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has directed its focus towards ensuring gender equality across all spheres. The year 2020 therefore represents an unmissable opportunity to mobilise action through programming to contribute to the achievement of gender equality and the promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls.


In the global discussion on women’s roles and rights, it is important to note that UNDP has at its forefront, the integration of the gender equality strategy in all of its programmes. SDG 5 – Gender Equality aims to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. This includes targeting the elimination of discrimination and violence against women and girls; valuing unpaid care and domestic work; ensuring the full participation of women; access to reproductive health care; and equal access of women to economic resources. This goal is supported by the UNDP Gender Equality Strategy 2018-2021 which has as its basic tenets the commitment to: (a) strengthen interventions tackling structural changes that accelerate gender equality and women’s empowerment; (b) strengthen the integration of gender equality into UNDP’s work on environment, energy and crisis response and recovery; (c) better align UNDP programming with its corporate messaging on the centrality of gender equality and women’s empowerment to the achievement of sustainable development; and (d) build upon institutional mechanisms for gender mainstreaming such as the Gender Equality Seal and the gender marker which provide measurable standards and incentives to drive progress.


In the Caribbean, as elsewhere, there is gender-based inequality in the experience and exposure of women and girls to the adverse impacts of disaster and climate change. Specifically, women commonly face greater challenges in accessing resources for adaptation and endure longer periods towards recovery. A siloed approach to social and environmental planning has resulted in limited coverage of disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate change and environmental issues in gender equality policies. Taking into account these hindrances within the sphere of climate change, UNDP recently launched a 15-million USD project funded by the Government of Canada and Uk aid, appropriately titled Enabling Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate and Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean (EnGenDER). The ultimate outcome of the EnGenDER Project is to support improved climate resilience for women, girls, key vulnerable populations and future generations in the Caribbean. The project, through its activities will build interest and political will for gender-responsive recovery, planning and mitigation against disasters and climate change, with a focus on building the knowledge and understanding of stakeholders on the relationship between gender and climate change. The project will also support capacity building for strengthening national and regional systems coordination, action and accountability for gender-responsive and human rights-based action for resilience. Globally, EnGenDER contributes to the UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021 outputs: 1.3.1 National capacities and evidence-based assessment and planning tools to enable gender-responsive and risk-informed development investments, including for response to and recovery from crisis; and 2.3.1 Data and risk-informed development policies, plans, systems and financing integrated and gender-responsive solutions to reduce disaster risks, enable climate change adaptation and mitigation, and prevent risk of conflict.


Five years into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as International Women’s Day 2020 under the theme “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights” is celebrated; it is crucial to note that gender equality is fundamental to delivering on the promises of sustainability, peace and human progress. UNDP and by extension the EnGenDER project will contribute and play its part in ensuring true and sustained gender equality and equity for women. Gender Equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies and sustainable development.


Marium Alleyne – Technical Specialist Climate Change, EnGenDER Project