Generation Equality : Making South Africa’s Climate Change Response Gender-Sensitive

Governance and Human Rights

In the framework of the Generation Equality Forum, the Feminist Action for Climate Justice (FACJ) Action Coalition organized a webinar building on the report A gendered lens: Mainstreaming Gender into South Africa’s Climate Change Response, published in 2020 by the African Climate Reality Project, the South African Institute of International Affairs and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance. The report makes clear that as it stands now, South Africa’s response to climate change is at risk of exacerbating existing inequalities by not taking gender into account. The impacts on agriculture, rainfall, and livelihoods will have gendered implications, and yet this well-known reality is not emphasized in South Africa’s response. The use of the term “vulnerable” is common but rarely defined. This will not be sufficient to adapt to and mitigate climate change in a gender sensitive and just way. Still, all is not yet lost. South Africa can learn from international examples and could pilot them at the local level where context appropriate.

The webinar, titled “Making South Africa’s Climate Change Response Gender-Sensitive”, was held online on Tuesday 31 August 2021.The event, hosted jointly by UN Women, the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, the Embassy of France, the African Climate Reality Project, the Women Leadership and Training Program, GenderCC Southern Africa and the youth-led grassroots organisation African Climate Alliance, was designed as a virtual dialogue engaging policy makers, young people and experts. The objectives were to explain why the drive for environmental sustainability is inextricably linked with social justice and gender equality, how gender equality and climate action intersect, and to discuss how public policies include or should include gender in responses to climate change.

The event featured a keynote address by Anne Githuku-Shongwe, Regional Director of UN Women South Africa Multi-country office, who gave an overview of Generation Equality, a global campaign aimed at accelerating gender equality and women’s rights. She explained what are the implications and expectations to roll out this campaign in South Africa. Her intervention was followed by a viewing of the documentary Gender: Not On Our Soil – A Climate Justice Reality and the testimony of Sibongile Mtungwa from the Women Leadership and Training Program, discussing her experience of the effects of climate change in her community and how to work to address it by building leadership of girls and women from the grassroots.

Documentary Sibongile Mtungwa Story

Documentary on Sibongile Mtungwa’s story

This storytelling part was followed by a review of the report A gendered lens: Mainstreaming Gender into South Africa’s Climate Change Response, presented by Amy Gilliam from the African Climate Reality Project.

Then, Funanani Muremi, representing the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE), and Thivhulawi Mukwevho, from the Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, presented some of the policies and initiatives focusing on the gender and climate nexus.

These presentations were followed by a panel discussion with activists working on gender equality and climate change, including Gabriel Klaasen from the African Climate Alliance and Bertha Chiroro  from GenderCC Southern Africa, and a Q&A session. The closing remarks were delivered by Charlotte Lobe, COO a.i. at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

Panel Discussion FACJ event, 31.08.2021

Panel Discussion during the FACJ Action Coalition event

Did you miss the event? Don’t worry, you can watch the replay here:

Logo Generation EqualityVisit: for more information on the Generation Equality Forum and the objectives and global commitments of the Feminist Action for Climate Justice Action Coalition.

The Generation Equality Forum (GEF) is a global gathering to accelerate gender equality actions and marks the 26th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.


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