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Africa’s leaders emphasize urgency of women’s participation in climate adaptation during CoP27 thematic gender day

By AGRA Content Hub

A majority of women in Africa derive their livelihood from agriculture. Their already difficult situation is exacerbated by the consequences of climate change, including erratic rainfall, droughts, floods, cyclones, and pest attacks. 

It is against this backdrop that AGRA hosted a CoP27 side event seeking to highlight the role of women in climate change adaptation under the theme: ‘Delivering for people and planet- The role of African Women in Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation and Response’. The session brought together leaders, researchers, scientists, and entrepreneurs from around Africa to evaluate the policies, opportunities and investments that deter women from fully harnessing the benefits of climate change adaptation. 

Sabdiyo Dido, the Head of Gender, and Inclusiveness at AGRA, appealed for the development of a policy and social-cultural environment that promotes women’s engagement in the development of climate change adaptation and mitigation plans and investments.

The challenge is with the policies and practices that are out there… and it’s high time that we try to elevate the voices of women to participate effectively in determining how policies can reach them, how practices can become responsive to them, and how investments can be channeled to boost their adaptation,” she said. 

In agreement, AGRA President, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, noted that the biggest opportunity to drive climate change adaptation and mitigation is through investment in women, particularly those in agriculture and food systems. 

If we focused on removing the impact of climate change coming from agriculture it would contribute 37% to net zero, but to do that we have to invest significantly to make the sector work for the people that are most impacted, especially on the African continent,” she said. 

Amb. Josefa Sacko, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development Rural, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, at the African Union Commission (AUC), in her keynote speech shared a four-point strategy for driving women’s inclusion and leadership in climate change response post-CoP27, as summarized below:

  1. Women are powerful agents of change, they have indigenous and local knowledge related to water harvesting and storage, land restauration; food production and rationing and natural resources management, which can be harnessed for lasting and scalable change.
  2. We must amplify the voice of African women in face of climate change to create awareness for policy, strategy, and practices, whilst entrenching their leadership in climate change mitigation, adaptation and responses … we must ensure that we have enough women specifically those working in agri-food systems as negotiators at CoP28 next year and make sure that their voices/propositions are taken into account.
  3. We must mainstream gender in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) with the aims to reduce gender inequalities and ensure that men and women can equally benefit from any intervention in the agri-foods systems to reduce risk link to climate change.
  4. There is a need for Sex and Age disaggregated data and evidence on the impact of climate change on women and youth- we are making a call for AGRA to assist us (AUC) in generating this Sex and Age disaggregated data. 

Picking up from Amb. Sacko’s point on the need for evidence and data in deriving solutions for women’s participation, Dr. Susan Chomba, the Director of Vital Landscapes at the World Resources Institute, reiterated the need to give women scientists a voice in global platforms like the climate change conventions.  

I am very conscious of the underrepresentation of women, particularly women scientists in these kinds of international forums. It is a call to all of us to do all that is within our means to increase the number of scientists, because we need not just the voice of women but also their expertise in defining food systems transformation,” she said. 

Other contributors to the discussion were Tony Simons, a Senior Fellow at Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry, and Prof. Antony Nnyong, Director at Global Center on Adaptation, as well as entrepreneurs Fatou Manneh (Jelmah Herbella – Gambia), Judith Marera (Lanforce Energy – Zimbabwe), and Lily Singelengele (Green Agriculture Youth Organization – Zambia).