Southern Africa: Renewable energy can give women power

wind-farm28 November 2013, Johannesburg – Climate change is happening fast. Africa is already feeling the negative effects, yet this continent is the least responsible for it.

While Greenpeace continues to campaign and lobby for climate justice and environmental sustainability, corporations and government continue to drag us into climate chaos. However, it is seldom acknowledged that women bear the brunt of this chaos and that climate justice is linked to gender justice.

With the Arctic ice melting, oil companies have turned their attention to the reserves beneath the Arctic Ocean. On 18 September 2013, 30 Greenpeace activists, dubbed the “Artic 30”, held a peaceful protest at a Russian energy companies’ oil drilling platform known as Prirazlomnaya.

We can expect this oilrig is to become the first to extract oil from the Arctic seas. Police arrested and detained the activists in Saint Petersburg. Twenty-nine are out on bail, but still face serious charges.

Eight women from eight countries make up the Arctic 30. These women are committed environmental activists who are standing up for all of us who want a green and peaceful future. These women also stand in solidarity with the women across the world that are hardest hit by climate change.

Travelling across the continent, fears of drought and crop failure are on the mouths of many. Botswana is currently facing drought, suffering from water shortages and crop failures.

Thousands of households in Malawi were affected by various forms of natural disasters between November 2012 and January 2013. Flash-flooding in Mauritius in February this year claimed 13 lives. Meanwhile the annual rainfall has decreased leading water shortages. The rise in sea level due to global warming and significant coastal erosion is becoming a serious concern on the Island.

Countries like Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe are experiencing rapid deforestation, soil erosion and loss of bio diversity due to an unsustainable overreliance on the burning of biomass. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions only speed up the effects of climate change.

Seventy percent of Africa’s population rely on agriculture for their livelihoods and the majority of those farmers are women. Most of the women in developing nations are primarily responsible for climatically sensitive tasks such as securing food, water and energy. Yet we have not heard their voices or seen their faces at global negotiating tables tasked to tackle climate issues.

Glen Tyler, Gender links

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