Zimbabwe: Zim Moves to Empower Women to Tackle Climate Change

2 November 2020

The Government of Zimbabwe in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Climate Promise initiative has developed a gender analysis report and Gender Action Plan which seeks to promote women's full participation in climate change solution-building.

The ministries of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and Women Affairs, Community and Small to Medium Enterprise Development spearheaded efforts to develop the report.

The report seeks to ensure that gender aspects are factored into the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) revision processes by leveraging analysis, strengthening institutional mechanisms and ensuring gender responsive climate actions.

The Gender Action Plan (GAP) seeks to advance women's full, equal and meaningful participation whilst promoting gender responsive climate policy and mainstreaming in the implementation of the Convention at all levels.

The GAP also calls for inclusiveness, as well as gender sensitive and responsive policies, programmes and projects within all climate change elements of mitigation, adaptation, capacity building, technology transfer and finance.

Zimbabwe is striving to set a sustainable economic development path with low carbon emissions in energy, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and waste.

The country is facing an increasingly critical need to act against climate change and the important role that rural women and youths play in building resilience is unquestionable.

Women, especially those in rural areas, are the most hit-hard by challenges emanating from climate change as they have to devise ways of adapting to the changes in sectors like agricultural systems and patterns.

According to the statistics from Zimstat and from National Gender Profile of Agriculture in Zimbabwe, rural women constitute about 70 percent of household and family labour in rural communities.

As a country, there is a need to continuously empower and capacitate women, especially those who live in rural areas so that they can strengthen their households, as well as mitigate against the effects of climate change.

Due to changing weather patterns, the critical role of women in enhancing agricultural development, as well as ensuring food security is increasingly becoming difficult, hence it is imperative that the countries must come up with mitigation strategies for these changes.

In a bid to survive, women have had to fall back on the environment, with some cutting down trees for firewood, something which will create more problems for the environment.

The indiscriminate cutting of trees can accelerate climate change.

Women farmers in the country may be as productive and enterprising as their male counterparts, but many have little or no access and ownership to land, credit, agricultural inputs and markets and all these issues need to be addressed at national level.

In Zimbabwe, the impacts of climate change are becoming more visible, including access to productive and natural resources, amplifying existing gender inequalities, particularly in marginalised areas.

"Climate change affects men and women's well-being differently in terms of agricultural production, food security, health, water and energy resources, climate-induced migration and other climate-related natural disasters," said Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry permanent secretary Mr Munesushe Munodawafa.

He said this in a speech read on his behalf by the director of Climate Change Department Mr Washington Zhakata at a validating workshop of the Gender Analysis Report and Gender Action Plan that was held recently in Nyanga.

Mr Munodawafa said mainstreaming gender and climate change was one of the country's priorities as it forged a roadmap for sustainable development.

"Climate change is the most important issue facing the world today while achieving gender equality and equity is one of the priorities of our time, and one of the greatest human rights challenges in the world," he said.

"The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Conference of Parties (COP) in 2019 adopted the Gender Action Plan (GAP), a significant milestone for the advancement of gender equality and women empowerment. Gender equality is also included in the Paris Agreement as integral to social transformation and climate action."

Gender equality has also been mainstreamed in Government policies as a critical strategy for women empowerment across all sectors.

"Nationally, the Zimbabwe Constitution of 2013 upholds gender equality as one of its principles," said Mr Munodawafa. "Gender mainstreaming has also been embedded in Government policies as a critical strategy for the promotion of gender equality, equity and women empowerment across all sectors.

"The revised National Gender Policy of 2017 has climate change as one of its thematic areas to which gender sensitive programming and inclusivity has to be fostered in order to attain inclusive sustainable development."

Mr Munodawafa said there was need to ensure full stakeholders participation across the gender divide.

"There is broad understanding for the need to support strengthening of gender roles and ensuring the mobilisation of all capacities to address climate change," he said.

"Therefore, linking climate change and gender in the revision of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) process requires an inclusive dual approach of both gender- responsive mitigation and adaptation measures."

Speaking at the same event, Zimbabwe Gender Commissioner Mrs Naome Chimbetete said in most rural communities across the country, women and girls were still suffering disproportionately from multi-dimensional poverty.

"Many women within this demographic are unpaid family workers and are often limited to subsistence farming and whenever there is a surplus to sell rural women seek to make profit for the sustenance of the family as opposed to personal gain," she said.

"Government and other development partners such as UN should cooperate in empowering rural women and girls, as it is essential to building a prosperous, equitable future for all on a healthy planet.

"This is also needed for the country to achieve gender equality, ensuring decent work for all, eradicating poverty and hunger and taking climate action."

Acting director of the Community Development Department in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Mrs Tariro Chipepera said improving the livelihoods of women required legal and policy reforms.

She said this will not require only leaders to act, but to make necessary changes for a carbon-neutral world.

"Improving the lives of women and girls in rural areas requires robust legal and policy reforms such as the newly implemented Gender Action Plan (GAP) that will see their (women) inclusion in decisions that affect their lives," said Mrs Chipepera.

"One of the most effective ways to achieve progress on the threats posed by climate change is addressing gender inequality."

Mrs Chipepera said empowered women have greater capacity to respond to climate change and they play important roles in adopting low-carbon technologies, spreading knowledge about climate change, and urging action.

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