Opening Remarks by Ms. Simone ellis Oluoch-Olunya, UN Women Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa during the 2016 Regional ShareFair on Gender and Resilience

Date: Monday, November 14, 2016

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today I am extremely delighted to welcome you to the Sharefair on Gender and Resilience. First, I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to our partners for making this possible.

I’m proud to mention that it is a joint effort of many of the UN Agencies based here in Nairobi as well as from the region, in collaboration with many partners from Governments, civil society, research institutions and private sector. It is the third regional Sharefair of its kind, following the success of the 2014 one focusing on “Rural Women's Technologies to Improve Food Security, Nutrition and Productive Family Farming” and the 2015 one on “Gender Equality in the Extractive Industries”.

This year’s Sharefair will provide an opportunity to further explore the role of women in building and strengthening resilience.

Allow me to very briefly outline the framework within which we work for a better understanding of the gender-aware approach to resilience.

The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the broader sustainability agenda, aim at addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for inclusive, sustainable and resilient development. Resilience commonly covers broad development concerns, including the capacity of people (men and women, boys and girls) and systems to mitigate, adapt to, recover, and learn from shocks and stresses from both the natural and social environment in ways that reduce vulnerability and increases well-being.

In Africa, resilience is frequently tried, and on a regular basis the region exposed to political, economic and environmental shocks, challenging development progress and sustainability of programmatic interventions. These comprise climatic variations, land degradation, drought, and floods, resulting in chronic vulnerabilities such as altering food insecurities, economic losses, chronic displacement as well as heightened tensions as especially vulnerable populations are forced to compete for access to key, but increasingly scarce, livelihood resources. In the context of general and chronic vulnerability, women and girls are also often exposed to additional, gender-specific barriers which exacerbate the challenges women face.

To enhance women’s resilience, there is need for a binary strategy that, on one hand, strengthens women’s individual resilience and capitalizes on community resources to enable women and youth claim their rights and participate, more meaningfully, in development planning. On the other hand, a need to expand the body of knowledge and exchange information on successful ways to enhance women’s resilience in the region and to better integrate a gender perspective in the resilience agenda.

It is in this context that the 2016 Sharefair on ‘Gender and Resilience’ has been proposed.   While providing  an opportunity to further explore the role of women in building and strengthening resilience, the event will also serve to promote dialogue and experience sharing on gender-responsive resilience-related programmes and policies in Africa to accelerate development and humanitarian response and the overall achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. By creating strong collaboration resilience solutions will be amplified beyond this event, sustaining change in policy and practice within relevant overarching global and regional frameworks.

The Sharefair is innovative by utilizing multidisciplinary ways to act together, putting gender at the center of resilience programming. It is anticipated that it will promote collaboration and the effective integration of gender in resilience-related programmes, policies and practices going forward. This will be achieved through active sharing of knowledge, innovations, good practices and experiences by everyone present, so solutions and partnerships will be leveraged to accelerate a direct impact within the SDGs framework.

I would urge you to visit the Innovations Space during breaks and actively network to learn from and support each other and make this Regional ShareFair as successful as the previous ones.

To conclude I want to once again reiterate my sincere appreciation to you all for the great commitment and enthusiasm in working together to move the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment agenda forward and wish you very fruitful deliberations for the next two days.

Thank you.