Gender Equity Crucial in Achieving Climate Goals

By Gift Briton

With the climate crisis disproportionately impacting Africa despite the continent contributing the least to climate change, experts urge that gender equity including increasing women’s access to and control of resources and leadership roles is critical in achieving climate goals.

According to Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President, Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa(AGRA), the agricultural sector plays an important role in reducing the impacts of climate change in Africa. However, despite being the main actors in agriculture, women are sidelined in leadership positions and have limited access to and control of resources.

As such, Dr. Kalibata said that gender equity including channeling investments to women, creating enabling environment and increasing their access to leadership positions will enable them to apply their indigenous knowledge to make lasting and scalable changes in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

She was speaking during a climate change Conference of Parties (COP 27) side event in Egypt held by AGRA on The role of African women in climate change mitigation, adaptation  and response

Accordingly, she said that women have robust indigenous knowledge regarding water harvesting and restoration, food preservation and rationing, and natural resources management among others. Hence, providing them with networking facilities to boost their understanding of what role they play in climate change mitigation is important.

Several other panelists who spoke during the event also touched on the importance of empowering women through localized training and skills on matters relating to climate change adaptation and mitigation and increasing their participation in policy dialogues, leveraging their influence at household and community influence.

Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, African Union Commission, said, “We need to create a gender balance society and amplify women’s voices in climate change to create awareness for policy, strategy and practices and leverage their leadership so that they can use their native capabilities in climate adaptation and mitigation.”

Sacko added that there is a need for aggregating climate data to enable countries to work from a data-driven perspective.

Furthermore, Dr. Susan Chomba, Director, Vital Landscape at World Resource Institute, noted that currently, Africa lacks women representation in the research field. Thus, there is a need for more women scientists to provide their expertise in transforming food systems.

She adds that this will enable more women to take part in building evidence that is needed for creating sustainable resilient food systems informed by their understanding of the African context, social and cultural dynamics.  This can be achieved by creating a working environment that enables women to thrive, recognizing their work and being aware of gender differences as well as financing their work.

For instance, Dr. Chomba notes that landscape restoration systems including agroforestry have positive impacts on food security in the continent, stressing that it is not just enough to plant trees but it is also crucial to plant trees at the right place and time for the right purpose.

Investing in agroforestry tree spices that help to fix biological nitrogen into the system will save money for most farmers and improve soil health in the long term so that we are having less negative effects from excessive use of external inputs, she said.

Although several initiatives focusing on empowering women to take part in climate change mitigation have been conducted across Africa, most of these initiatives end up at the pilot stage. Most of the initiatives, experts say, can help in climate change mitigation and adaptation if they could be scaled up.

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