The Important Role of Women in Protecting The Earth

Gender equality and women’s empowerment is one of the priorities of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, namely SDG 5 ‘Gender Equality’. One of the targets to be achieved by 2030 is to end all forms of discrimination against women everywhere; eliminate all forms of violence against women in public and private spheres; guaranteeing full and effective participation and equal opportunities for women to lead at all levels of decision-making in economic, political and community life; etc.

Studies have shown that an economy that includes women can grow faster and be more productive. The McKinsey Global Institute Report (2015) states that $ 12 trillion can be added to global GDP by 2025 by empowering women’s equality. IMF (2016) concluded that empowering women can bring three benefits to the business sector, namely promoting growth and reducing inequality; increasing productivity through increasing female talent and increasing economic diversification that encourages new growth centers.

An important role is not only impacting economic growth but economic growth without damaging economic growth without damaging the environment (green growth). The FAO study “Tackling Climate Change through Rural Women’s Empowerment” (2017) outlines the important role of women in adaptation and mitigation actions to the impacts of climate change that they can do in various sectors: agriculture, livestock, fisheries, forestry, energy, water and land management.

 “There are several examples of how the private sector can take part in empowering women through activities that can bring economic benefits and at the same time have a positive impact on preserving the environment,” said Sihol Aritonang, Chairman of IBCSD while giving a keynote speech in the webinar: The Role of Women in Protecting The Earth. The role of the private sector in contributing to the achievement of SDGs in Indonesia was previously published by IBCSD in 2019 in the book “PRIVATE SECTOR CONTRIBUTION TO ACHIEVE SDGs IN INDONESIA”.

One of them was exemplified by Bayer Indonesia. In Agriculture, small farmers play an important role in ensuring food security in developing countries. But many are still struggling to make a living as they are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions and crop losses. As a leader in agriculture, Bayer targets to support 4 million small farmers, 20% of whom are women farmers by 2030 in Indonesia.

“We want to help increase Indonesia’s food supply and reduce poverty in rural communities. By giving women farmers fair access to more innovation, knowledge, partnerships and new business models, Bayer wants to provide them with better choices, improve their welfare, and provide them with solutions to grow their crops more sustainably, to increase yields and their income. As a women’s health care company, our goal in 2020-2021 is to give 25,000 female farmers access to family planning by ensuring the availability of affordable modern contraceptives. Thus, Bayer wants to improve the health, rights and economic status of women – a big step towards increasing gender equality,” said Laksmi Prasvita, Head of Communications, Public Affairs, Science and Sustainability, Bayer Indonesia.

APRIL Group, a sustainable pulp and paper producer based in Pangkalan Kerinci, Riau Province, also has a women’s empowerment program, one of which is by establishing the Andalan Batik House where APRIL empowers more than 70 housewives to increase their income through batik. APRIL has also encouraged one village one commodity (OVOC) activities since 2014 by providing sustainable agricultural training for communities around its operational areas, including female farmers.

“At APRIL, women’s participation is carried out at all levels within our internal and supply chain. We also encourage various community programs that can improve people’s lives in a sustainable manner in line with the goals of sustainable development goals,” said Anita Bernardus, Deputy Director of Corporate Communications for APRIL Group.

This private sector initiative shows that efforts to promote gender equality and empower women are showing improvement over the years. However, there are still real challenges that must be faced together by the government, business sector and society. From the report on the achievement of SDG 5 regarding gender equality in Indonesia in 2019, it was noted that 18.3% of women who were / were married experienced physical and / or sexual violence from their partners during their lifetime. In fact, 4.9% experienced it in the last 12 months. This violence against women occurred both in urban areas (36.3%) and also in rural areas with a relatively smaller percentage (29.8%).

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused distortions in almost all sectors of life, has also had a double negative impact on women. The integrated service center for the empowerment of women and children (P2TP2A) and Komnas Perempuan recorded an increase in cases of violence against women by 75 percent since the COVID-19 pandemic. Cases of violence against women occurred both in the personal sphere (75.4%), the community domain (24.4%) and the state domain (0.08%).

The increase in cases of violence against women during the difficult times of the Covid-19 pandemic still reveals there is vulnerability to our achievements on gender equality and women’s empowerment. We need to educate ourselves constantly to ensure gender equality and empowerment women are deeply rooted in our mindsets, actions and culture.

“For young women, the most important thing is we liberate our mind. Never feel confined because we feel like women. So the first is to free our minds on our limitations as women, “said Susi Pudjiastuti, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Republic of Indonesia 2014-2019.

Susi added, “It’s true that our physical strength is not as strong as them (men), but liberate our mind that our thoughts, our ability to work, our professionalism certainly can. So first of all, free our minds from all the limitations for women. “

Apart from Susi Pudjiastuti and two speakers from the private sector, there were also Ayu Kartika Dewi, Special Staff for the President for Social Affairs who is also the Managing Director of the Indika Foundation; and Risya Kori, UNFPA Gender Specialist and Ignasius Praptorahardjo, UNFPA Researcher.

This webinar is the first webinar in a series of webseries held by IBCSD with the main theme SDGs. Next, IBCSD will still hold a webinar on the theme SDGs and Youth, followed by the theme Education. A number of well-known speakers have been prepared to fill in this webinar series. This series of webinars was also marked with the #DEMIBUMI photography contest which was held on the @IBCSD_official Instagram account, with a total prize of millions of rupiah.

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