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UN urges women’s participation to boost climate resilience in Africa

The dream of a green, resilient, and inclusive future for Africa is within reach once governments harness the ingenuity of grassroots women and girls to boost action on the escalating climate crisis.

Mehjabeen Alarakhia
Mehjabeen Alarakhia

Mehjabeen Alarakhia, UN Women’s Regional Advisor on Women’s Economic Empowerment for East and Southern Africa, said this on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, at a forum in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

Convened by UN Women, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the three-day women forum from April 16 to 18 would discuss the critical role of gender-responsive climate policies in advancing Africa’s green agenda.

Delegates are from more than 30 African countries, drawn from governments, civil society, academia, and indigenous communities.

They are attending the conference to chart a new gender-inclusive and green future pathway for Africa.

Alarakhia, therefore, stressed the critical role of women in boosting the continent’s ability to withstand climatic shocks.

While acknowledging that climate change disproportionately impacted Africa’s rural women and girls, Alarakhia said they could also be tapped to implement resilient measures, including natural resources conservation.

She added that “climate change threatens the livelihood of African women and girls, intensifying their health risks and inability to access clean water.

“But women’s input should be at the heart of climate response.”

William Otieno, the UNFCCC Regional Lead for East and Southern Africa, observed that empowering African women and girls would be key to achieving the continents’ desired outcomes during global climate negotiations.

According to Otieno, gender inclusivity should inform national and regional processes geared toward a just and sustainable transition in a continent reeling from a host of climate disasters.

Evelyn Koech, the Team Leader of Environment and Resilience at UNDP Kenya, said African countries required gender-inclusive policies to tame the devastating impacts of climate change, including floods, droughts, forced displacement, and resource-based conflicts, taking a heavier toll on women.

Koech added that for the continent to transit to a more resilient and green future, governments should integrate gender parity in climate finance and efforts to achieve net-zero targets.

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