July 19, 2024

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VIDEO: COP 27 Should focus on the impacts of climate change on African women – PACJA

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By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU

Climate Change Impacts Disproportionately on African Women, Says Advocacy Officer at Panafrican Climate Justice Alliance

During the 8th Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development held in Kigali ahead of COP 27, our reporter had the opportunity to speak with Mela Chiponda, the Advocacy officer at Panafrican Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA). Chiponda highlighted the devastating impacts of climate change on African women, particularly in terms of their livelihoods and overall well-being.

Chiponda emphasized that the majority of African women’s livelihoods are tied to the land, as they are food producers and play a crucial role in the food chain. However, with climate-induced disasters becoming more frequent and severe across Africa, from Rwanda to Southern Africa to Madagascar, African women’s livelihoods and lives are being destroyed.

She pointed out that African women are not only caregivers and contributors to their communities and households, but they are also at the forefront of rebuilding rural economies and livelihoods after climate-induced disasters. Despite their essential role, African women’s labor is often invisible, underappreciated, and taken for granted.

Chiponda underscored the importance of recognizing and centering the voices and needs of African women in climate change adaptation policies. She called for policies that are nature-based and specifically tailored to address the unique challenges faced by African women as food producers and rural populations.

As Africa prepares to host COP 27, Chiponda urged African countries to come together and speak with one voice to address the climate crisis facing the continent. She emphasized the urgent need for climate finance to be provided in the form of grants rather than loans, considering Africa’s historical background of colonialism, extractives, and marginalization.

Chiponda highlighted that Africa is facing a triple crisis – COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis, and debt crisis – and called for special attention to be given to Africa as a region with special needs and circumstances. She emphasized the importance of centering African women in climate change discussions and policy-making to ensure a more sustainable and equitable future for the continent.

Research by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation found that in Africa, women are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change due to higher dependency on climate sensitive sectors, higher levels of poverty, and less access to information. In fact, five out of the ten most climate vulnerable countries are also among the ten countries with the lowest gender equality on the continent.

Furthermore, Carbon Brief found that women are more likely to be affected by four out of five major areas that are impacted by climate change in Africa.

Bar chart showing the proportion of men and women affected by climate change impacts, including death and injury from extreme weather; food insecurity; infectious disease; mental illness; and poor reproductive and maternal health. (Source: Carbon Brief, October 2020)

In March 2022, African countries agreed on a common position to integrate gender equality in climate action agenda, recognising that the climate crisis is not a “gender neutral” global crisis. Also, in order for climate action to be effective, it needs to be inclusive of women especially as women can play a critical role in climate adaptation.

Watch the video below for detailed interview

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