MARCH - 2019

In September 1995, the role of women in the environment was identified as one of the 12 critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action, which was adopted by
world leaders at the Fourth World Conference on Women. The document arising from that event highlighted three strategic objectives related to the environment. One of the most important referred to the active participation of women at all decision-making levels in this area and the integration of their concerns and perspectives in environmental policies and programmes.

Almost a quarter of a century later, and despite the important breakthroughs achieved, the very necessary leading role of women in the drive towards sustainable development and the fight against climate change is still very distant.

It was a woman, Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Norwegian Prime Minister and responsible for the well-known Brundtland Report, who coined the concept of “sustainable development” in 1987. It was she who put the environment on the world political agenda, giving rise to a concern for the future of our planet that would later manifest itself in historic events, such as the Rio Summit in 1992 and the signing of the Kyoto Protocol five years later. Along with Brundtland, other women from different fields, including science, philosophy and politics, such as Rachel L. Carson, Jane Goodall, Vandana Shiva, Wangari Maathai and Petra Kelly, have played a vital role in the development of ecological awareness.

A firm step forward: sustainable development goals  and gender role

“Future generations are unlikely to condone our lack of prudent concern for the integrity of the natural world that supports all life”, said Rachel L. Carson, a woman who was capable of raising awareness of the importance of environmental protection in western society.

Once again, women from all over the world are raising awareness and working to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). And the international community is also conscious that, without the full participation of women, it will be very difficult to achieve sustainable development. This is reflected in the 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development, the “roadmap” launched by the UN three years ago, which sets 17 Goals to achieve a more sustainable world by 2030, through balanced growth that takes account of social (education, health, job opportunities…), economic and, of course, environmental needs. In fact, gender equality and empowerment of women form an integral part of each and every one of the 17 SDGs.


Niurka Sancho
Vice-president and Director, SIGAUS