UN Women working towards a sustainable future


Women play a central role in advancing sustainable development. Everyday women take decisions that impact sustainable development—be it the use of land, water, energy, or forests or through their contributions to their families and the economy. If they have equal access to resources and opportunities and are part of the decision-making processes, women can become drivers of sustainable development. In partnership with women, their communities, and grassroots organizations, UN Women supports many initiatives that promote sustainable development solutions. Here are some of them:


At a meeting of the Cocamu Coffee Cooperative, Euphrasia Musabyemariya explains how life has improved since she became a member.

In Rwanda's Kirehe district, programme work across 15 cooperatives is increasing women's participation in agriculture and related decision making in their families and communities, along with crop yields. The trainings have taught budgeting skills to women farmers, and encouraged farmers and district officials to better include and provide for women by, for example, only offering loans to farmers when co-signed by couples. With more couples sharing financial and agricultural decisions, productivity has increased in the community. Read full story here »

In Ghana, ABANTU and Ghana Gender and Climate Change Coalition successfully mainstreamed a gender perspective in the climate change policies of the Economic Community of West African States' (ECOWAS), and other national and regional agreements Supported by UN Women's Fund for Gender Equality, the initiative also delivered three programmes that supported efficient energy investments in households, extended agricultural services and micro-credit opportunities, and improved access to land for 2,000 women and their families in vulnerable regions. According to the World Health Organization, harmful cook stove smoke is among the top five threats to public health in low-income countries. Of the 2 million people who die each year from smoke from traditional cook stoves, more than 85 per cent are women and children. The Ghana initiative has supported in providing families with green cook stoves, powered by Liquefied Petroleum Gas which has brought in significant health benefits. Read full story here »


At the Barefoot College in India, illiterate women - many of them grandmothers - from rural communities around the world are learning how to build, operate and maintain solar systems, before being provided with solar equipment kits to take to their home villages. The programme aims to empower older marginalized women and saves an estimated 160,000 litres of kerosene a month across South America, Africa and Asia. Read full story here »

In China's Ningxia Autonomous Region, 161 female farmers have been trained to use, manage and maintain the irrigation infrastructure, to work towards the sustainable and cost-effective use of irrigation water in their area. Floods and droughts here are increasingly common and have a disproportionate impact on women, since many men in the district have left their villages to seek job opportunities. However, now equipped with advanced irrigation technology, the women have become important driving force in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Read full story here »

International Day for National Disaster Reduction

In rural areas of central-south Vietnam, trainings are involving women in community disaster risk reduction. The trainings, with the Viet Nam Women's Union, sensitize villagers to women's different experience of natural disaster. For example, they have raised the fact that many women in Vietnam are not taught to swim, and how this should be factored into disaster response plan. As a result of the programme, the Women's Union has been accepted as a regular member of the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control, which is the main body for decision-making for natural disasters. Read full story here »

In Pacific countries, UN Women is working to make market spaces safer and better-suited for the vendors—predominantly female-while enhancing their leadership skills. The Partnership to Improve Markets project has surveyed, analyzed and documented the situation faced by women market vendors, and recommended changes for by-laws and budgets plans in Papua New Guinea, the Solomons, Vanuatu and Fiji. Working with governments and market vendor organizations, the market women are now helping to design new models in which women vendors can drive the diversification of products, customers, market locations and management structures. Read full story here »

Triggered by devastating floods in 2011, work is being done in Thailand to mobilize and train more women in community-based disaster management. The Chumchon Thai Foundation and the Friends of Women Foundation have been strengthening and formalizing the work of women's networks to, for example, educate at-risk villagers on urgent renovations and government loans. They have also worked with local authorities to ensure that boats will be available to transport pregnant women and the disabled to safety first. Government partners have meanwhile been inspired to study and develop models on gender and community-based disaster management.


In Mexico indigenous women are today contributing more to sustainable enterprises and development, due to a partnership between the government and the National Commission for Development of Indigenous Peoples. A successful eco-hotel, for example, is being run entirely by the members of the Maseualsiuamej Mosenyolchicauani tribe, according to the indigenous principles of Buen Vivir, meaning ‘good living'. The hotel recycles organic waste, harvests rainwater harvesting, creates and uses compost, has dedicated green spaces to ensure clean air, and uses local produce in all meals. Read full story here »

In Ecuador's Yasuni reserve, the world´s largest biosphere reserve, a joint-UN programme supports the involvement of local groups in its conservation and sustainable management. UN Women has worked to ensure women's participation in the initiative through trainings on leadership, business and the marketing of their handicrafts. It has also advocated for a gender perspective in local government planning and budgeting.

In Ecuador and Venezuela, work to empower networks of women in vulnerable ecosystems has improved their involvement in climate change response. Trainings and discussion forums have helped the women to devise and lead solutions to environmental, economic and social problems. They have since presented a public policy for the sustainable management of the natural resources in their territories.

In Bolivia UN Women ensured the participation of marginalized women in the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, a global gathering of civil society and governments celebrated in 2010. This brought together indigenous women from Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Colombia to raise their issues at the regional level, and they were able to give inputs into discussions on the conference agenda. As a result, the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin which is a large influential organization, comprising indigenous peoples from all over the Amazon, integrated a cross sectional gender perspective in all its guidelines.