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A panel discussion on Women and Desertification was held on Monday afternoon, 9 September. Five women and two men, drawn from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and Latin America, elaborated on the constraints women face in access to credit, land and decision- making processes, all of which are relevant for effectively combating desertification. The speakers came from diverse sectors: youth and women’s groups, the private sector, pastoral communities, academia and government.

Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga from the Environment Liaison Centre International gave an overview of the provisions for women in the CCD. Gaudensia Kenyange, from Uganda’s Commercial Bank, focused on the constraints women face to obtaining credit, while AFAD (Mali) explained the important role credit systems and training for income- generating activities could play in the fight against desertification. Venkat Ramnayya of Youth for Action (India) spoke about women and land degradation and stressed their lack of involvement in agricultural decision-making.

Allyce Kureiya from the Marsabit Development Programme (Kenya) stressed the important role economic independence played in empowering women to be involved in decision-making. Ricard Minougou of Association pour la Protection de la Nature (Burkina Faso) presented the organizations’ pilot project on women and desertification.

Belinda Bruce of Farm Radio Network (Canada) elaborated on the use of radios in exchanging information aimed at improving food production, health and nutrition at the grassroots level. Elizabeth Chiedza Gwaunza discussed the Zimbabwean case of land tenure, and said that if women are guaranteed access to land they will have more motivation to resist and respond to environmental degradation.