Press release: International Women’s Day at UNEA

8 March 2019
UN Office of Nairobi, Kenya

Plastic free, sustainable menstrual hygiene for all

Today on International Women’s Day, #balanceforbetter cannot have more need for emphasis than it is at the UNEA. The Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly is happening at Nairobi, Kenya where member states, civil society organizations and inter-governmental organizations are collectively working towards resolutions for a more just world with respect to our Environment and Climate Change through #SolveDifferent. One resolution is on Women and Environment, the first gender-focus resolution in the UNEA process.

International Women’s Day UNEA4 action

1:10 PM, 8 March 2019

Main stairs connecting lobby to conference rooms 1&2, UNEA-4, Nairobi, Kenya

The Women’s Major Group along with other feminist and women’s rights advocates from Member State delegations and UN Secretariat call for the Right to a Healthy and Sustainable Environment. The mid day photo op will have call to attention to Sustainable Development Goal 5, the SDG pertaining to gender equality for women and girls. The program will have short speeches from Priscilla Achakpa, co-chair of the Women’s Major Group, and Executive Director of Women Environment Program -Nigeria, and Bharti Kannan from Boondh, an organization that works on Menstrual Literacy, Policy, Advocacy and Sustainable Products.

Priscilla Achakpa, Women’s Major Group, said, “We welcome the resolution on women and environment as the linkages between the two are becoming more apparent in the multiple crisis we live in. But Member States must not backtrack on progressive, feminist language that have been enshrined in other international mechanisms like CEDAW, 2030 Agenda, and the Paris Agreement.”

Bharti Kannan, Boondh, suggested gender-focused resolutions must work closely with health and reproductive realities of women. Important issues such as Menstruation Equity cannot be looked at without its conjunctions with the environment. Social enterprises pave the way to address interventions that work for better health, better environment and lesser consumption with respect to menstruation, without the burden of having to separate activism from consumerism.

The impacts of environmental degradation on women’s livelihoods, access to resources, rights to safe and living with dignity, and our bodies are intensifying. There is a correlation with the decline of the environment to the rise of patriarchy, fundamentalism, militarism and the deepening gap of wealth inequality within and among countries that are giving rise to conflicts. We live in a world where 26 richest people own as much wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion  of the world. But women human rights and environmental defenders are fighting back, from high level UN spaces like UNEA to the grassroots level. They are feminists calling for a right to a healthy and sustainable environment, reclaiming power from polluting and extractive corporations, and striking for environmental justice.

About Women’s Major Group
The Women’s Major Group (WMG) was created at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where governments recognized Women as one of the nine important groups in society for achieving sustainable development. The WMG is an official participant in the United Nations processes on Sustainable Development. Other processes use the major group or similar systems, with the WMG active in the processes of the United Nations Environment Program since 1996. F: @WomensMajorGroup T:@Women_Rio20

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Lean Deleon
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Audrey Ledanois