Climate change activists confab underway in Accra
Female climate activists from 16 African countries are meeting in Accra to strategise towards the upcoming UN global climate change conference, COP 28.
The countries are hosts, Ghana, Cameroun, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia and Nigeria.
Others are Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Tunisia, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Central African Republic.
The participants belong to the Pan-African network of development advocates known as the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET).
The focus of the four-day deliberations, which opened in Accra last Monday, included the need for the prioritisation of female voices in global discussions and decision making on climate change because the group was one of the worst affected.
Dubbed: the FEMINIST COP, the meeting has brought together over 40 pan-Africanists, ecofeminists, activists, representatives of indigenous and marginalised communities, and climate justice advocates.
They will, among others, share their respective country experiences on the impact of climate change, mitigation and adaptation policies on females and other marginalised groups and together propose solutions that are expected to be presented to global leaders at COP 28.
It is being held on the theme: “A feminist approach to just transitions.”
At the opening ceremony, the Climate Justice and Gender Advisor at FEMNET, Dr Melania Chiponda, said climate and environmental crises threatened development in Africa and also threatened to worsen extreme poverty and gender inequalities.
“Meaning that the transition in Africa must be a gender just one, one that interrogates and challenges injustices,” she said.
Some of the participants in a group photograph after the opening of the workshop
She said for decades, feminists and other activists had worked tirelessly to challenge and dismantle structures and systems of exploitation, extraction and discrimination with a deep conviction about and imagining a world that was just, inclusive, sustainable and transformative.
She urged participants to own their convictions as they prepared for the COP28 in Dubai.
“Sadly, the stark and unimaginable realities of the escalating impacts of the climate crises; the increasing debt service burden; the futility of fiscal austerity measures; growing inequalities.
“Surging inflation; soaring food and fuel prices and persistent gendered injustice across the world all demand for urgent attention to reverse these and more concerning trends.
“The urgency for immediate practical action is undeniable,” she said.
Dr Chiponda said the FEMINIST COP was, therefore, convened as a safe space for feminist climate activists, indigenous leaders, young girls and women advocates, among other stakeholders, to connect, reflect, strategise and co-design ways to engage and show up at COP 28 to make female concerns known.
She said FEMNET continued to be intentional in influencing decisions made at national, regional and global levels, constantly ensuring African women voices were amplified and their needs, priorities and aspirations are prioritised in key policy dialogues and outcomes that have direct and indirect impact on their lives.
She said it had carved a niche as a nucleus serving to mobilise African women and girls to lobby and advocate the domestication and implementation of commitments made by African governments to the advancement of gender equality and realisation of women’s rights.
Welcoming the participants, a former Board member of the Network and Chair of the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), Dr Charity Binka, underscored the need for stakeholders to be deliberate and intentional about promoting gender justice in climate change mitigation and adaptation at all levels.
She said Africa needed men and women who believed in gender justice as key to climate transition.