By Christabel Oboshie ANNAN, Accra
SECOND Lady, Hajia Samira Bawumia, has encouraged African leaders to support initiatives that amplify the voices of women and children to create platforms for their ideas to flourish, and elevate their leadership roles in climate action.
She also called on all private and public organizations, businesses, and individuals in Africa to champion the message of the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to embrace the transformative power of gender equality to tackle the issue.
She added that as a continent, we cannot make progress without leveraging the full resources of the majority of the population, especially in decision making.
Samira Bawumia said this at the maiden edition of the Africa Women and Children Conference (AFRIWOCC) in Accra to address the impact of climate change on women and children.
The conference brought together high-level government officials, policymakers, renowned experts, representatives from international organisations, civil society and grassroots community leaders.
It was held under the theme ‘Amplifying the Voices of Women and Children in Climate Action’.
Samira Bawumia stated that the theme is in recognition of the pivotal role women play in shaping the sustainable and resilient future of Africa.
She added that AFRIWOCC was meant to provide a platform for discussing policy gaps and advocating for gender-responsive and child-centered policies and measures at various levels.
Hajia Bawumia noted that there exist several gaps that hinder the effective roll out of international decisions that impact women and children’s participation in climate discussions.
“These gaps include the unequal representation of women and children in climate discussions, the lack of gender-disaggregated data and inadequate technology and innovation, which compromise efforts to outline gender-responsive interventions to enhance the capabilities of women and children in adapting to climate change,” she explained.
As a result, she hopes the conference will help to deliberate and assess the impacts of the climate crisis on women and children in Africa, advocate for women and children-centred policies, and discuss practical and realistic climate initiatives.
She further said that it will also coordinate a network of organizations in the climate space to document indigenous knowledge and innovation for replication and upscale, and put women and children at the heart of climate action, to be the anchor for solutions.
Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, emphasised the importance of tackling the climate change menace and reiterated the World Trade Organisations (WTO) commitment to help combat it.
“Trade policy decisions can improve people’s lives in a very practical ways; for instance, women and children in developing countries spend hours gathering wood for fuel – which can lead to premature death due to household air pollution, from which women and children account for 60 percent of deaths.
Reducing tariffs and other trade barriers will also enhance access to life changing cooking solutions.
“Trade is a key mechanism for enhancing economic opportunities for women and the businesses they run. Better integration into the international market will enhance and help women entrepreneurs to drive job creation, enhance economic growth and tackle climate crisis; and at the WTO we are ready and poised to help,” she said.
Deputy Secretary-General for the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed, said “We must amplify the voices of women and children in climate action, as they are not only disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change but also hold immense potential to drive transformative solutions. By empowering women and children, we can create a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.”
The outcomes of AFRIWOCC 2023 will contribute to discussions at the Africa Climate Week and Africa Climate Summit scheduled for September 4 – 6, 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya.
These discussions will shape Africa’s position at the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties’ Twenty-eight Session (COP 28) to be held from November 30 – December 12, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).