Power, gender and the environment

Power, gender and the environment

When Mandelena became a mother, she was only 16 years old. During the prolonged dry season in Gwor County, South Sudan over the last two years, Mandelena and her family have been able to eat only one meal per day. In her community, crops are failing, cattle are dying and children are dropping out of school because of hunger. Women and girls walk four to five hours every day to collect water, and young girls are married off for a dowry of cattle as soon as they hit puberty.

Elsewhere in the country, under a giant tree in the remote town of Terekeka, a group of 25 women talk about how their lives are affected by changing weather patterns. They joke and laugh about their plight, as if a sense of levity can somehow alleviate their workloads and quiet their hungry stomachs. According to the women, one thing remains constant despite the changing weather: they get beaten by their husbands every day, regardless of the rainfall patterns.

“The struggles of women and girls are only part of the picture, as gender equality concerns both men and women,” said Victor Tsang, UN Environment’s Gender Officer, who led the organization’s gender analysis in South Sudan for a climate change adaptation project.

“Cattle raiding is common in South Sudan, and it is intimately linked with men’s needs to pay a good dowry for a young bride. The result is a culture of violence, including sexual violence. And the backdrop is climate change and environmental degradation, which intensifies hunger, reduces water availability and kills cattle.”

Guided by its own Gender Policy, UN Environment strives to conduct a context-based gender analysis of each of its projects.

“The power dynamics of women and men vary across contexts and over time,” says Tsang. “For instance, in Nepal, one’s caste and ethnicity matter as much as one’s sex. A woman from the Brahmin upper caste could be more privileged than a man from the Dalit, or lowest caste. Without sufficient understanding of such gender and social dynamics, a project risks excluding or even doing harm to people in disadvantaged positions.”

UN Environment is developing climate change adaptation projects in both Nepal and South Sudan for backing from the Global Environment Facility’s Least Developed Countries Fund. UN Environment is fully committed to supporting the Global Environment Facility’s recently revised Gender Policy, Tsang says, as well as the implementation of its own policy.

Both the Nepal and South Sudan projects focus on strengthening institutional and community capacity in ecosystem-based adaptation – building resilience to the effects of climate change, such as irregular rainfall patterns, through the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of natural ecosystems.

For instance, in Nepal, the project seeks to improve water conservation, groundwater recharge and soil stability in the Kathmandu Valley. In South Sudan, the project aims to restore degraded land, promote conservation agriculture and diversify livelihoods in local communities. Currently under development, the projects are expected to be submitted to the Global Environment Facility in the second half of 2018.

Back in Gwor County, with Mandelena’s permission, Tsang holds tight to the young woman’s infant boy, Emmanuel. “I looked at him and could not help thinking of my own young son,” says Tsang. “It is this human touch that makes all the data and reports UN Environment produces real.”

“UN Environment can play a critical role in helping the peoples and nations of the world take on the daunting tasks of adapting to climate change, restoring degraded ecosystems and advancing gender equality,” says Tsang. “For every child like Emmanuel to have the chance to grow up healthily, however, we still have a long way to go.”

Source: Un Environment

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Dilek Bil spent 33 years in both corporate and entrepreneurial ventures.

Worked 10 years in banking for American Express Bank, BNP-Ak-Dresdner Bank and Société Générale. Her years in financial industry were mostly concentrated on introducing new and innovative financial instruments to help grow volume of trade finance, especially for food and  agricultural products to catalyze  a shared value economy.

Co-founded Kangaroo İletişim in 1994, a brand strategy and advertising agency, worked with international brands such as Volvo, VW and Garanti. End of 2011, spun-off advertising and re-structured her business as  a sustainability consultancy and communications agency. She currently advises companies in creating, defining, building, measuring more purposeful businesses, strategies, brands and compelling communications.

Dilek Bil also serves on the Board of Akmerkez Gayrimenkul Yatirim Ortakligi AS., where she leads the ‘Risk’ and ‘Corporate Governance’ committees.

Dilek Bil created and anchored a weekly TV show on Cnbc-e, named  “Sürsün Bu Dünya”. She interviewed more than 40 opinion leaders  -corporate CEO’s, policy makers, academicians, NGO presidents-  to encourage and show them a new direction of  a sustainable economic model with market opportunities and profitabilty.

Dilek Bil is among inspirational leaders in women empowerment and sustainability, in pursing her task, she also presents at conferences  as well as to students.

Dilek Bil has been actively working in civil society:

Recipient of the “2017 Women of the Decade in Media and Social Change” award by the Women Economic Forum.

Honorary board member and former president of KAGIDER (Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey).

Founding member and the Vice-President of FODER (Financial Literacy and Inclusion Association of Turkey).

Member of the board of trustees WWF-Turkey.

Member of the Strategic Advisory Group for International Council on Women’s Business Leadership.

Former board member of Turkish-British Business Council of DEIK.

Works closely with many civil society organizations: UNSDSN
German Bioeconomy Council, ALL Ladies League

Dilek Bil is an amateur in gastronomy and oenology.

Board member of Accademia Italiana della Cucina.

Founding member of 28-year-old Wine Association of Turkey,

Dilek Bil graduated from Northport High School-New York and has a BA degree from University of North Texas U.S.A., married and has a son.