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International Women’s Day celebrated

Geneva has marked International Women’s Day with an exhibition and awards ceremony recognising inspirational women working in the city to protect the environment.


The event and display was launched by the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariat and the Geneva Environment Network on the official UN-recognised day of 8 March.


Out of 160 nominations, 20 inspirational women representing a rich diversity of organizations, sectors, functions and nationalities were chosen by a committee to be part of the exhibition.


Some of these dynamic and enthusiastic women are from intergovernmental organisations, others represent civil society or the private sector, as well as the University of Geneva and the Swiss Parliament.


Three UNEP staff members were among the women bestowed with an award.


Sheila Logan has been working with UNEP for thirteen years on issues related to chemicals and waste, with the highlight being her support for negotiations on the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The Convention covers mercury in a full life-cycle approach, and has the potential to address the significant environmental effects of mercury poisoning. The metal may be linked to declines in species such as sharks, predatory fish and marine mammals, as well as having harmful effects on vulnerable populations who rely on such species as an integral part of their diet.


Silja Halle is a Programme Officer with UNEP’s Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch. She currently heads a new programme on women and natural resource management in conflict-affected settings funded by Finland. In this respect, she acts as the coordinator for an innovative partnership between UNEP, UN Women, UNDP and PBSO. The partnership focuses on pilot-testing gender-responsive approaches to environmental and natural resource management as a tool for redressing gender inequity and promoting women’s empowerment in peacebuilding processes.


Isabella Marras has initiated UNEP’s work on a great number of sustainability areas since joining the organisation in 1997. She initiated UNEP’s sustainable procurement work in 1999, the UNEP-UNESCO youthXchange project on sustainable lifestyles for young people (translated in 32 languages) in 2001 and UNEP’s work on education for sustainable lifestyles in 2006. Isabelle moved to the Sustainable UN initiative in 2007 and is currently Coordinator of the Sustainable UN facility, which gathers GHG emissions data from over 60 UN entities worldwide, helping them define emission reduction strategies and to offset.


Thanks to Isabella, Silja, Sheila and other colleagues working hard to promote gender equality, UNEP’s work on the topic has progressed significantly over the past few years. The new Policy and Strategy on Gender Equality and the Environment was released in 2015 and the Global Gender and Environment Outlook will be launched during the second United Nations Environment Assembly in May 2016. The governments of Sweden and Norway have contributed funding to support this work.


Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls for gender equality to be achieved and women and girls empowered. Between now and 2030, countries aim to end child, early and forced marriage for example.


To read more about all the awardees please click here. For more information please get in touch with

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