The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP) on Thursday hosted a webinar in which participants discussed ways through which member States and institutions can strengthen the engagement of women in climate information and services (CIS) which they can utilize to support the CIS value chain for the benefit of their countries and communities.
Held under the theme Strengthening the Engagement of Women in CIS Generation, Packaging, Dissemination, Uptake and Use, the webinar sought to strengthen the engagement of women in CIS at regional level and to build their capacity and awareness of climate information tools and resources.
Participants identified and discussed the potential contribution of women in mitigating environmental damage and embedding climate justice in governance mechanisms as the world emerges from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; enumerated tools, resources and networking opportunities to support women engagement in CIS; and identified bottlenecks and impediments in facilitating women involvement in CIS at national and sub-national levels.
In his remarks to the webinar, Jean-Paul Adam, Director of the ECA’s Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resource Management Division, said investing in women as part of the climate change response was crucial as this would lead to environmental gains and greater returns across the sustainable development goals (SDGs), Africa’s Agenda 2063 and broader development objectives.
“Women have significant knowledge and understanding of the changing environmental conditions, which could play a crucial role in identifying viable and practical community adaptation,” said Mr. Adam, adding that involving women in the switch to cleaner, modern energy, ensures that their concerns, and those of the community, are addressed.
He said post COVID-19 it was important for Africa to build back better with a gender lens.
For her part, Keiso Matashane-Marite of the ECA’s Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division, said African governments and institutions should provide incentives for women and girls to engage in CIS and in the process help contribute towards poverty eradication and the attainment of the sustainable development goals.
She emphasized that there were close links between gender and climate, adding gender inequalities exacerbated climate change vulnerabilities in communities.
“We need to demystify climate change and call for aggressive policy interventions or even affirmative action in some instances to ensure we address the issue of limited participation of women and girls in climate issues and science,” said Ms. Matashane-Marite, adding understanding gender complexities was of uttermost importance before delving into initiatives to increase women’s engagement with CIS.
Jennifer Mohamed-Katerere, an independent expert on human rights and environmental governance, for her part, said; “Policy interventions are needed to promote meaningful participation of women in the climate information and services value chain to improve access to climate data and services.”
Katerere said critical policy interventions were needed in engaging women in decision-making; participatory planning; communication and information technology and education.
Participants emphasized the need for innovative solutions to ensure capabilities are built for women in relation to access to CIS.
James Murombedzi of the ECA’s African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), said the webinar had helped participants scattered across the continent to have a better understanding of the social conditions and impediments to women’s engagement in CIS. He hoped the webinar would go a long way towards increasing the capacity for women to participate in CIS generation, packaging, dissemination, uptake and use.
“There was convergence towards certain steps that need to be taken to ensure impediments to women’s engagement in CIS are removed. There is awareness and readiness to utilize available resources and tools in developing climate informed plans and policies, and in using climate information in practice,” said Mr. Murombedzi.
“We need to think creatively and should not be risk averse if we are to successfully address these challenges. We need to begin to operationalize some of the interventions we are proposing.”
ACPC’s Frank Rutabingwa shared with participants the role of the Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) programme in improving the policy and enabling environment and addressing the paucity of women engagement in climate information for development planning.
His colleague, Yosef Amha’s presentation focused on climate research by women under the Climate Research for Development in Africa (CR4D) programme.
Panellists included Ms. Salina Sanou, Head of Programmes, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA); Ms. Rosaline J. Smith, former lawmaker in Sierra Leone; Ms. Mariane Diop-Kane, Programme Manager, WMO Regional Office for Africa; and Mr. Mouhamadou Bamba Sylla, Climate Change Science Network Research Chair, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Rwanda.
They all agreed the limited engagement of women in climate information and services and related climate change dialogues poses serious challenges in sufficiently adapting to and mitigating against climate change impacts and called for urgent innovative interventions to address that.