| Global Times | 2012-6-25 20:40:04
By Global Times
Last week, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development drew global leaders to Rio de Janeiro to discuss how to "green" the economy and reduce poverty around the world. The aim was to develop global goals to meet our world's current needs for food, health, energy, housing and other necessities while also preserving the environment.
Women are critical in agriculture and food security efforts. Women make up 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries. This percentage goes up to 80 percent in some parts of Africa, and over 60 percent in Asia.
Estimates by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization show that if women have equal access to resources, such as land, training, technology and credit, food production will increase by 20 to 30 percent, which could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent.
Investing in women's education will further economic goals and improve the health and well-being of future generations.
According to the World Bank, an increase in education by a year per adult woman in a country could correspond to an increase of $700 in GDP per capita. Educated woman tend to marry later and have fewer children. Their own children, in turn, tend to have lower infant mortality rates, higher school enrollment, and suffer less from malnutrition.
As leaders look to the future and establish global sustainability goals, specific goals to promote gender equality must be set. Doing so will benefit women's families, communities and nations today, and the environment and global economies tomorrow.
Recognizing the important role women play as environmental stewards, food producers, business owners, healthcare providers, and mothers is the key to creating a prosperous and sustainable future for everyone.
Jill Sheffield, President of New York-based NGO Women Deliver, and Danielle Nierenberg, project director of the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet project.
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