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On 8 March 2022, International Women’s Day is being celebrated under the theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, recognizing the contribution of women and girls around the world who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, to build a more sustainable future for all.
Advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis and disaster risk reduction is one of the greatest global challenges of this century. It is estimated that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. Furthermore, women often lack adequate access to funds to cover weather-related losses or adaptation technologies and face discrimination in accessing land and social capital.
At the same time, women and girls are effective and powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation. They are involved in sustainability initiatives around the world, and their participation and leadership results in more effective climate action. Continuing to examine the opportunities, as well as the constraints, to empower women and girls to have a voice and be equal players in decision-making related to climate change and sustainability is essential for sustainable development and greater gender equality. Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach.
Vocational skills development is considered to be an effective tool to empower youth and adults, including marginalized groups, by increasing their employability and integration into society. Yet, access to skills training provided by formal technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions remains limited for many.
Young women from poor rural communities are especially disadvantaged in this regard, due to societal factors that undermine the potential role they can play in sustainable and productive development. In many developing and emerging economies, women do the majority of the work in agriculture, but often have less decision-making power than men. Within this context, skills training targeted at women could improve agricultural output, challenge patriarchal gender relations and enhance financial stability.
Empowering women through TVET can have a major impact on the transition to green and just societies and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2021, the SDG Affinity Group was launched under the auspices of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP), with Colleges and Institutes of Canada (CICan) as lead, UNESCO-UNEVOC as a collaborating partner, and INACAP, Chile, TAFE NSW, Australia, and KATTI, Kenya as co-leads. The Affinity Group (AG) seeks to advance awareness and adoption of the SDGs as integral to TVET processes and practices.
During a panel discussion on SDG 5 (gender equality), attended by over 40 members and experts, the AG examined the role of TVET in supporting gender equality and empowerment. Denise Amyot, President and CEO of CICan, Canada, a UNEVOC Centre, moderated the discussion with insights and project initiatives focused on increasing women's participation through education and training. Inputs were shared by Consolata Mutysia, Head of Department and Trainer at Kabete National Polytechnic, Kenya; Natalia Palacios, Deputy Director of Infrastructure and Technology Platforms at Duoc UC, Chile, a UNEVOC Centre; and Chanel Burgos, Strategic Coordinator for Women in Business at TAFE NSW, Australia. View the recording below.
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