Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

A Push for Women's Rights at Rio+20

May 29, 2012

Next month world leaders will converge upon Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from June 20 – 22, for Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (commonly called the “Earth Summit”).  Women's groups are pushing to become a major part of the agenda as women continue to be marginalized when it comes to poverty eradication and sustainable development.

The vast majority of the world’s poor are women and children--even twenty years after the first sustainability conference in Rio. It’s one reason why the Women’s Major Group, which includes international sustainable development organizations, is calling for women to share their stories and make their voices heard to ensure women’s issues are not shuffled off the agenda.

These organizations are calling for, among other things: gender equality and equal rights, equal access to the green economy, equal land ownership, sexual and reproductive rights, safeguards for women and other vulnerable groups, and equal participation in decision-making processes.

For this summit global women’s rights will be front and center.

Women are on the frontlines of agriculture in developing countries producing up to 80 percent of the world’s food and therefore access to clean water and arable land are essential to the livelihood of families around the world. During this “Earth Summit” the Women’s Major Group is also calling for an urgent halt to mining, fracking, for example, that ruin land and its resources.

To be clear, the Women’s Major Group is not looking for appeasing recognition, but “strong commitments to actions” as mentioned by Eleanor Blomstrom, of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), speaking on behalf of the Women’s Major Group.

You can watch her entire statement here

The Women’s Major Group is also calling for reforms that will allow women the world over to garner equal access to property and the economy system allowing women to work their way out of poverty.

You can read the Women’s Major Group position statement and join the Women on the Road to Rio community or follow the #WomenRio hashtag to become a part discussion about women and sustainability at Rio+20.

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