Climate change: Project prioritises gender mainstreaming

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AFR100 is a collaborative project initiated by all African Union member states and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) to mitigate the impact of climate change, restore degraded land, and improve food Security. Photo used for illustration purposes only. PHOTO: 123rf

The adverse impacts of climate change overly burden the poorest and the most marginalised segments of society, which include women, children, and indigenous peoples.

This is according to the University of the Free State lecturer and programme director for Gender Studies, Dr Juliet C. Kamwendo, who is at the forefront of advocating for gender mainstreaming in climate change.

Dr Kamwendo grew up in the southern region of Malawi with her parents, who were both farmers in the early seventies, and said her family depended on the environment for their livelihood. “Fetching firewood and water was not a nightmare as it is now. The area has now suffered an acute depletion of its forest and the land has degraded. The environment which provided us with all our necessities has turned into a desert,” she expressed.

“Women often face greater challenges and vulnerabilities due to land degradation. The loss of forest cover and biodiversity further exacerbates the challenges faced by women, particularly in rural areas where they depend heavily on natural resources for their livelihoods,” she explained.

For Dr Kamwendo this becomes a domino effect, leaving women with lesser opportunities with a heightened vulnerability within society and climate related disasters. Her expertise in gender studies provided valuable insights into the importance of considering gender dynamics in climate change interventions.

“There is, however, a growing recognition of the differential vulnerabilities, resilience as well as unique experiences and skills women and men bring to the development and environmental sustainability efforts, which are all important assets that various stakeholders and policymakers should draw upon to inform climate change responses,” she added.

AFR100 is a collaborative project initiated by all African Union member states and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) to mitigate the impact of climate change, restore degraded land, and improve food security.

The project prioritises gender mainstreaming to ensure that women are not only included but empowered to actively participate in restoration efforts.

“Addressing climate change impacts requires every individual to be involved. Women should not be considered as just passive individuals but powerful agents of change, who continue to make increasing and significant contributions to sustainable development, despite existing structural and sociocultural barriers,” she concluded.

Gypseenia Lion

gypseenia@mahareng.co.za