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EWA-BELT at the "Towards World Desertification and Drought Day - Her Land. Her Rights"

Desertification and Drought Day 2023

“Aula Barbieri”, Department of Agriculture, University of Sassari Viale Italia 39/A, Sassari (Italia)

The Desertification and Drought Day (DD-day 2023), established in 1994 by the United Nations every 17 June, aims to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification, loss of soil fertility and the resulting degradation of natural resources caused by human activities (pollution, excessive land use, overgrazing, deforestation, fires, irrigation with saline waters). The day is a unique opportunity to remind that the involvement and cooperation of communities at all levels is essential to combat soil degradation. The Secretariat of the UNCCD (the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification), the signatory countries of the convention and the stakeholders mark the day by organizing awareness-raising events around the world.

Under the theme “Her Land. Her Rights” the focus of this year’s Desertification and Drought Day, marked worldwide on 17 June, is on women’s land rights as a key element of achieving the connected global goals of gender equality and land degradation neutrality by 2030. While land is the most critical economic resource for most rural poor, women around the world are less likely to own or control land than men, which exposes them to poverty, hunger, gender-based violence and displacement. As such, investing in women’s equal access to land and associated assets is a direct investment in their future and the future of humanity.

The Department of Agricultural Sciences and the Desertification Research Centre NRD at the University of Sassari (Italy), in collaboration with the National Research Council of Italy (IPSP-CNR), DesertNet International and the Global Network of Dryland Research Institutes, celebrated the DD-day 2023 under the patronage of UNCCD with an international event involving academic research and civil society representatives committed to the safeguarding of water resources and the fight against desertification and land degradation.

The second part of the meeting hosted the international webinar: "Her Land. Her rights: a science-civil society dialogue on women's efforts for drought and desertification challenges”, coordinated by Mauro Centritto (IPSP-CNR Director and member of the Civil Society Organizations Panel of the UNCCD), followed by a round table, coordinated by Anna Luise (ISPRA - UNCCD Scientific-technical Correspondent).

During the session, PhD Meron Tefera presented the EWA-BELT Project and the efforts the Consortium is making in addressing not only drought, land degradation and food-insecurity issues - among other focal points - but also gender equality and women empowerment. In this respect, although 70% of women in Africa are employed in the agricultural sector, land ownership is dominated by men. The percentage ratio underlines how women participation in the sector is still limited to merely job opportunities, thus exacerbating the gender gap.

On these premises, with a specific focus on sustainable water and soil management, PhD Meron Tefera outlined the activities that are being carried out in the local areas of the Farmers Field Research Units (FFRUs) where women are actively participating sharing traditional knowledge and experiences to enhance problem-solving at all levels. There are already evidences showing that women engaging in the promoted activities are more self-confident and autonomous as well as more appraised by their families and communities.

All in all, EWA-BELT is endorsing and contributing to women participation in job opportunities as well as in decision-making processes that are also sustainable in the long-term.

Learn more on

Rewatch PhD Meron Tefera's intervention on the YouTube Channel of @NRDUniss here.

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