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The 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place at the United Nation Headquarters in New York, March 12th to 23rd. The priority theme of the 62nd Commission is the challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality, and the empowerment of rural women and girls.

In that event, on Monday, March 19th SGP co-organized a side event on Rural Women Leading Climate Resilience, with UNDP partners NDC Support Programme, Equator Initiative, and NGOs Swayam Shikshan Prayog, Fragments of Hope, as well as UNFCCC, UN Women, the Governments of Zambia, Germany and Fiji in the UN Secretariat Building.

46 percent of the world’s population still live in rural areas. Small Grants Programme believes in taking account of and listening to the needs, perspectives, and preferences of rural and local communities, when it comes to decision-making at all levels and in all sectors. While women in rural and local communities play an undeniably important role in sustainable development, they continue to face multi-faceted discrimination and they lag behind on almost every marker of development. To make an impact on gender equality and women’s empowerment, the global community must address the development challenges that rural women experience.

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The well-attended side-event featured interventions from Mr. Jo Scheuer, Director for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP, Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Minister of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Fiji, Hon. Emerine Kabanshi, MP, Minister of Community Development and Social Services, Zambia, Ms. Rajashri Sai, Partnership Advisor, Swayam Shikshan Prayog, Ms. Mariko Wallen, Coral Restoration Practitioner, Fragments of Hope, and Ms. Maria Noel Vaeza, Director, Program Division, UN Women.

Ms. Rajashri Sai, speaking on behalf of rural women of India and NGO Swayam Shikshan Prayog discussed SSP’s eco-system approach to strengthening women’s leadership with the aim to accelerate other climate outcomes, such as clean energy.The NGO, Swayam Shikshan Prayog, is a 2017 Equator Prize Award winner under UNDP’s Equator Initiative. SSP is a leading grassroots women’s organization in India with over 19 years of experience in enabling community led sustainable development.

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From Belize, Ms. Mariko Wallen spoke on behalf of the women of her community, Placencia, and Fragments of Hope, a SGP Grantee Partner and 2017 UNFCCC Momentum for Change Awardee. Ms. Wallen described how the organization’s actions in gender-responsive coral reef restoration in key protected areas is contributing to meeting the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions within the fisheries sector, along with the coastal and marine resources sector. She also emphasized the importance of an gender-mainstreaming and integrated approach to secure ecosystem sustainability and long-term access to income generating activities. FoH works with local communities to develop best practices for mangrove and coral reef restoration to conserve threatened ecosystems and to provide socio-economic stability to the participating coastal communities.

The subsequent Q&A session delivered a robust dialogue between the panelists and the audience, who widely shared from their perspectives and experiences.