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Global leaders take centre stage to call for women's land rights

Women leaders from around the world attended the United Nations General Assembly event which took place on 17 June, marking the Desertification and Drought Day, to call for womens land rights 

Speakers from countries as diverse as Canada to Chad, Iceland to Lesotho, shared their experiences and explained how droughts, land degradation and desertification are disproportionately impacting the women and girls in their communities.

“On this Desertification and Drought Day, our message is simple: we must finally recognise and value women as owners, managers of our lands and of our resources, and we must invest in the fight against climate change. Women make up the majority of rural farmers, but less than 15% of agricultural landholders are women, and their right to inherit property continues to be denied under customary and traditional laws in over 100 countries,” said United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, an Indigenous leader from Chad, delivered a stark warning: “Despite our innovation, despite the determination of the women of my community to preserve ecosystems to block the desert, despite our collective efforts to save and share water, our land is dying.” She said women are calling on CEOs, ministers, presidents, and philanthropists to stop pledging and start putting cash on the table to help us win the most important battle of our life.

The first-ever female Prime Minister of Namibia, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, spoke about what Namibia is doing to go above and beyond on women’s land rights. In addition, there were also video messages from the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Vice President of Spain, Teresa Ribero Rodríguez

Less than a third of all UN Member States have ever had a female Head of State or Government. Several of them participated in the high-level event in New York in person or virtually. The event was jointly organised by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), UN-Women, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, UN Human Rights and the UN Development Programme.