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Women power: Youths engaging in climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives

Elizabeth Gulugulu Machache, a young environmental champion

They say empower a woman to empower the whole community. This statement is proving to be true through youthful female climate change champions who are doing wonders in their communities to adapt to and mitigate the phenomenon.

In an interview with Spiked Online Media, Elizabeth Gulugulu Machache, the Project Manager of the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change Zimbabwe (AYICCZim) said with the support of the Climate Change Management Department (CCMD), her organisation facilitated online engagements with gender experts on the role of women in contributing to climate-related policies which include the Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDs) Climate Change Policy, Climate Change Strategy, and the Gender Action Plan amongst other policies.

“This was done as a way of filling up the policy gap since women occupy fewer positions in policy formulation and contributions. Another initiative that is almost on its implementation stage with our partners Kuimba Shiri where we are capacitating women as fish entrepreneurs, processors, and key players in fish production.

“This is a project we are working on to promote food security, nutrition, and women in business through value addition. This project as well plays a huge role in promoting local sustainable food systems since the country is also suffering from the effects of climate change. The fish farming project feeds into one of the thematic areas we are focusing on as an organisation under our Climate Smart Agriculture Initiative,” Machache said.

Several platforms have been created for young women especially on waste management where women have been taking part in waste management initiatives and advocacy in line with having a circular economy by 2030.

Areas like Montague shops and fife avenues have been cleaned through this initiative with partnership from Clean City – a waste recycling company in Harare.

Lisa Chitura Zimbabwe from the Climate Change Coalition was also singing from the same hymn book. She said women-led initiatives are essential in any community development meant to attain sustainable development goals.

“It goes without saying that a large number of women are the ones who are responsible for the energy and food systems in their homes.  It is therefore essential that mitigation measures are carried out and led by women.

“As women, we are involved in different projects and actions that feed into the nationally determined contributions (NDCs). There is, however, an information gap when it comes to data and how the different issues can be amplified and incorporated into the NDCs,” Chitura said.

The climate change advocate said there is a need for effective monitoring and evaluation as well as rigorous and thorough capacity building projects.

“Women are defined as a vulnerable group. However, it is time for gender equity in all projects and decision-making processes that will ensure positive participation and deliberate documentation of their work. Many women in different parts of Zimbabwe are involved in waste management projects through the collection of plastic bottles and selling them to recycling companies as a source of livelihoods.

“Some are working as individuals and some are working as community-based organisations (CBOs). There is therefore a need for more work to be done so as to feed into the country’s NDCs. Women have a burden that is embedded in the patriarchal system and thus more women and men need to be capacitated and encouraged to take up initiatives and climate actions.”

Cinderella Ndlovu, the Director of Green Hut said as a young woman passionate about climate change, she has come to realise the importance of environmental education and raising awareness throughout all communities as an effective tool for building environmentally conscious, proactive, and responsible citizenry.

“That way, through improving the climate literacy of marginalised groups including women, children, and the youths who are still disproportionately affected by climate change impacts, we are building capacity for them to meaningfully contribute towards solution formulation to endemic environmental challenges that affect their day to day lives. 

“As the founder and Director Of Green Hut Initiative, an environmental nonprofit entity based in Bulawayo, my team and I have been working towards improving climate literacy through educational programs to inspire communities to act. We realise the importance of gender equality and women’s human rights in combating climate change and the need to advance gender-responsive climate action. This is why as an organisation , we are drawn towards nondiscriminatory and inclusive programs that are applicable to different kinds of people in the community regardless of their level of education or social stratification,” Ndlovu said. 

Women are already playing a pivotal role as guardians of natural resources and possess crucial indigenous knowledge systems that might not necessarily be documented compared to conventional or western science.

“My organisation wants to be able to tap into the resourcefulness of women in climate action. According to project drawdown solutions, the education of girls is placed on the 6th position out of 100 solutions of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which is a testament to the role of women in climate action,” she added.

 Lauretta Marembo, the Executive Director of Young Volunteers for the Environment – a youth led organization which has a fundamental belief in young people being the Patrons of their environment, said her institution has embarked on progrmmes meant to encourage women to take up leadership roles in their communities.

She believes that women are the custodians of the environment and their role is critical if well articulated. She has raised awareness on climate change issues mainstreaming with women in Mufakose in climate mitigation.

Among others, she did various projects that not only uplift women in environmental sustainability but also in achieving poverty alleviation through setting up income generating initiatives. 

Below are some of Marembo’s initiatives:

Communicating climate change through Arts – women were taught about climate change in simple terms and were made to come up with artistic impacts to portray their understanding of climate change and mitigation. Some of the initiatives include waste management comprising the re-use, reduce, and recycle (RRR) principle using plastic waste for weaving handbags and hats.

The women also engage in art through music and dance. The women were going to be supported by UK businesswomen who are interested in buying these artifacts 

This led to an initiative of creating the “Fashion show” which was meant to be done in August 2020 but due to the coronavirus pandemic, it will be considered next year in August .

“We also carry out tree planting training, education, and awareness of fruit trees as a source of income-generating projects. We grow various fruits include pawpaws, and baobab which is having the greatest demand due to the seeds being crushed for oils used in Pharmaceuticals and skin therapy, as well as mangoes, oranges, and lemons,” Marembo added.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende