Statement by the Director-General, Ms Jan Beagle
This International Women’s Day, IDLO joins our partners in celebrating the lives of women and girls around the world, and in highlighting this year’s International Women’s Day theme: “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.”
Despite many hard-won gains towards gender equality, women and girls still struggle to have their most basic rights protected. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have set back global efforts to achieve gender equality by a generation. In addition, armed conflict and large-scale humanitarian emergencies are affecting more people than ever before, with women and girls often bearing the brunt of their impact.
IDLO is following these crises with grave concern. Today, as we commemorate the courage and achievements of women and girls, we urge the international community to ensure that their needs are at the centre of humanitarian response efforts.
This year’s theme is a reminder that the way we respond to current crises will shape the century to come. The choice that faces us is clear: find sustainable ways to live or face the catastrophic consequences of inaction.
Climate change will affect us all, but it will not affect us all equally. Its effects are interacting with pre-existing structures of discrimination and inequality in profound and complex ways, leaving women and girls at the frontlines of the climate emergency.
Access to land and natural resources, which is central to the lives and livelihoods of many women, is increasingly disrupted. Discriminatory laws and practices mean that women and girls are less able to protect themselves, even as they face higher rates of violence during climate-related crises and instability. Exclusion from leadership and political life deprives them of their right to equal participation in climate-related decisions and policymaking.
Ensuring justice for women and girls is key to addressing multiple and overlapping layers of discrimination and ultimately critical to building a more peaceful, just and sustainable future. As the only global intergovernmental organisation exclusively devoted to promoting the rule of law to advance peace and sustainable development, IDLO puts gender equality at the core of its work.
We integrate it throughout our programmes, research, and advocacy, as well as directly addressing specific justice challenges such as discriminatory laws and policies, gender- based violence, and barriers to the participation of women in the justice sector and public life more broadly.
Climate justice for women and girls represents an increasingly important area of IDLO’s work. We support the empowerment of women and girls to claim their environmental rights and to participate in climate-related decision-making; to strengthen their ability to access and benefit from land and other natural resources; to partner with governments and civil society to support the development of gender-responsive climate laws and policies; and to help build an evidence base on feminist rule of law approaches to climate change.
Greater attention to, and support for, justice for women and girls is both urgently needed and the best investment we can make in a more sustainable future. IDLO is committed to bold, tangible, and concrete action to empower women and girls to claim their environment rights, build resilience to climate change and lead the fight for climate justice.
It is only by eliminating discrimination in law and practice, and empowering women to participate and contribute equally, that we can achieve a safer and brighter future for everyone. This International Women’s Day, let us recommit to a gender-equal world today for a sustainable tomorrow.