Nairobi, 16 March 2015 - The UN HeForShe campaign - that aims to engage men as agents of change for the achievement of gender equality and women's rights - was launched, Monday, at the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) with personal commitments made by Heads of UN Agencies to advance gender equality and women's empowerment.
UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner signed up to the campaign and delivered a keynote address where he talked about the importance of creating fair and equitable opportunities for women, describing how environmental conditions impact the lives of women who remain on the frontline of major challenges and who are also agents for positive change in the fight against climate change and other environmental challenges..
"In order to achieve gender equality, each and every individual must take a personal stand to bring about positive change in their immediate environments, whether at home, at work, among communities and across society. By creating fair, equitable opportunities for women we could address the often deep-rooted inequalities that hinder the advancement of women and derail true sustainable development," said Mr. Steiner.
"From climate change to deforestation and air pollution, it is women who are often at the frontline facing disproportionately high risks to their health and livlihoods. In parts of Asia and Africa, where the majority of the agricultural workforce are female and where women are responsible for up to 75 per cent of household food production, the impacts of such disasters have a major impact on women's income, food security and lives."
"Sustainable development efforts must focus on gender and the role of women. Women's voices, responsibilities and knowledge on the environment and the challenges they face will need to be made a central part of global responses and strategies." he added.
Indoor emissions from inefficient cookstoves cause nearly 2 million premature deaths every year - that's one death every 16 seconds - with women and children disproportionately affected due to their responsibilities as primary firewood collectors and cooks.
UNEP's projects on cleaner and more efficient cookstoves in developing countries are making efficient cookstoves more affordable and thus improving the health and livelihoods of women in particular, as well as increasing energy efficiency and reducing ecosystem damage.
In May 2016, at the 2nd United Nations Environment Assembly meeting, UNEP will launch the first Global Gender and Environment Outlook which will firmly place gender analysis at the heart of global environment assessment and bring gendered perspectives on the environment to the attention of the world's policy-makers and sustainability leaders.
The overall goal of the campaign is to spread awareness and spark action on the responsibility that men and boys have in eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and violence against women and girls.
Mr. Steiner joins HeForShe champions: President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and renowned Malian musician Salif Keita, who are spearheading the campaign in Africa and globally.
More than 200,000 men across Africa have already signed up to HeForShe, which was launched on 20 September, 2014 at UN Headquarters in New York, where UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson spoke of her own path to feminism and called to involve men and boys in promoting gender equality.
An online registration campaign is designed to encourage men to sign up as HeForShe champions, as a commitment towards pushing for gender equality and fighting violence and discrimination against women.
For more information please go to: http://www.heforshe.org/