Women Rio+20: Women's priorities for Sustainable development Women’s priorities for Sustainable development


Women’s Vision for Rio+20: an Equitable and Sustainable World


Social equity, gender equality and environmental justice must form the heart of sustainable development, and of the outcomes of the Rio+20 UN conference in 2012. Twenty years after the first Rio conference, great social and economic inequities still remain. These inequities especially affect women and children, who make up the majority of those living in poverty.


More than 70 women-environment-development organizations from all over the world have worked together to present their visions and recommendations for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio+20 – where world leaders will agree on renewing their commitment to sustainable development and on measures to strengthen and accelerate progress.


Women‘s vision:


Gender equality in all spheres of our societies: education, employment, ownership and control over resources, access to justice, political representation, institutional decision- making, care giving and household and community management. A world where women can fully deploy their potential in all spheres of our societies, meaning without gender-based violence, where women share in land ownership and financial resources, where women and girls are equally represented in all areas and in which women’s sexual and reproductive rights are assured.


Respect for human rights and social justice: building societies based on respect for human rights of all people, ensuring social protection, sustainable livelihoods and environmental security, and fair distribution of the earth’s natural and economic resources. A world where economic, social and environmental rights for women and men are fully respected.


Environmental conservation and protection of human health: creating societies which function within the earth’s ability to support life and human livelihoods, preventing disruptive climatic changes as well as pollution and contamination of ecosystems and human settlements. A world where women’s livelihoods are not irreversibly harmed by environmentally destructive economic activities.


The Women‘s Rio+20 submission paper to the UN consists of 9 pages, which can be downloaded here.


Key recommendations from the Women’s Major Group for Rio+20 include:


  • Human and women’s rights as a cornerstone of all agreements in Rio+20
  • Halt Land grab and assure Food sovereignty
  • Halt Irreversible damage – Nuclear/uranium/extraction/chemicals
  • Poverty eradication as the basis for sustainable development
  • Redistribution of wealth and access to energy and resources for women
  • Women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health
  • Women’s economic rights – e.g. land tenure
  • Gender equality as a basis for all agreements in Rio+20
  • Human and Women’s rights assured in all new Sustainable Development Goals
  • Gender criteria for new institutional structure for sustainable development – e.g. quota
  • Gender criteria for financial global instruments




  • UN instruments which will specifically benefit women
  • Precautionary Principle, because the poor cannot discount the future and need protection now
  • Polluter Pays Principle, i.e. Liability and Accountability instrument – assure redress for the environment and human victims
  • Rio Principle 10, citizen’s environmental rights on public access to information, public participation and access to justice
  • Special rapporteur / UPRs on irreversible damage (nuclear, chemicals, extraction)
  • Independent Technology Assessment and Monitoring regarding wide-scale application
  • Financial instruments
  • Provide Basic Income for Women as an anti poverty measure, i.e. Social Protection Floor
  • Halt negative side-effects of financial instruments for climate adaptation and mitigation
  • Assure Women’s access to funding through earmarked “windows”
  • Commit to 50% of all GEF funding to go to local level, re-instalment of small grants programme
  • Fiscal instruments
  • Reform fiscal system – internalization of external costs
  • Going beyond GDP – new economic indicators which take women’s contributions and natural capital into account


The Women’s Major Group is represented to the UN by the 2 organising partners VAM – Voices of African Women, and WECF – Women in Europe for a Common Future/Women International (secretariat(at) Together with WEDO Women Environment and Development Organisation and ENERGIA International network on Gender and Sustainable Energy they form the core organising group. In addition, the Women Rio+20 Steering Committee with over 50 women’s networks active in more than 80 countries worldwide, contributes strategically to women’s major group activities.



Details of the initiative