By Rumbidzai Beverley Rugoyi
It’s been great to see women being increasingly celebrated during the months of March over the past few years. May these celebrations continue each and every day of our lives because we are one society and need to be united in all development trajectories.
Call for sustainable development
We’re in the decade of action: in which we’re striving towards developing sustainably. It’s also in this decade of action that we ought to accelerate efforts to address climate change and empower girls and women.
Barrack Obama once said, “For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.” I’d like to add on that: “for the sake of securing women’s livelihoods and well-being…we most certainly must- do more to contribute to climate action.”
Significance of women inclusion and active participation
Women empowerment is increasingly becoming important. There are some institutions contributing to that in Zimbabwe such as The Tanyaradzwa Initiative, Ladies in Action Zimbabwe, Elevation Zimbabwe, Women of Africa and Educate Her.
Below are a few agendas seeking to promote women empowerment:
- Aspiration number 6 of the “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want” calls for “An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its WOMEN and youth, and caring for children.”
- The 5th goal under the United Nations Agenda 2030 for sustainable development seeks to “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”
- The 12th chapter in the National Development Strategy 1 for Zimbabwe seeks to accord priority to gender mainstreaming as it will be run up until 2025.
But in the face of climate change…progress towards realizing these may be slow to attain, especially in Africa.
Women’s vulnerability to climate change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also identifies women amongst the vulnerable groups to climate change. In the face of climate change related disasters, their vulnerability is aggravated. Already, poverty- which is attributed by climate change- has been feminized due to different reasons. It’s also been outlined that 85-95% of people who are vulnerable and exposed to climate risks live in Africa and Asia.
Some effects of climate change on women
Climate change affects women on various levels- including economic, social, political and environmental levels. It affects their health, productivity, food security, development opportunities their security and causes social instability too. Economically, it threatens job security especially in a country like Zimbabwe which has an agro-based economy. According to Food Agricultural Organization, in 2011 almost 70% of employed women in South Asia and more than 60% of employed women in Sub-Saharan Africa worked in agriculture. In Zimbabwe many women are also active in the informal agriculture sector. Due to climate change related disasters such as droughts, poverty levels will increase. This will affect women on a social level because they will be at risk of malnutrition- which will weaken their immune systems and make them susceptible to diseases. As a result, they may not be able to actively take part in development activities or opportunities in politics or decision-making processes. On top of that, increased poverty levels will promote unsustainable environmentally practices such as deforestation for firewood because people won’t be able to afford accessing renewable energy sources.
This is merely a glimpse of the impacts…
Hope amidst adversity…
Women and climate change. We are affected by it. We unknowingly contribute to it at times. It destroys what we would have worked on. It presents opportunities to us. And we can take measures to safeguard ourselves, our families and communities against it; but only in a conducive environment in which we can actively participate.
For as Barrack Obama, again, said, “We are the change that we seek.”
About Rumbidzai Beverley Rugoyi : Climate activist, Development Studies Student, Ignite Youth Awards 2022 Climate Activism Category Nominee, Catholic University of Zimbabwe Environmental Club Former Vice-President, UNSSC ‘Paris Agreement on Climate Change as a Development Agenda’ 2022 Alumni, YALI Alumni