On 31 August 2021, as part of its efforts to ensure that grassroots communities know and understand the issue of climate change, Earthlife Africa and Gender CC held a women-focused dialogue to unpack the role of gender (specifically, women) in the #JustTransition.
Lorraine Chiponda (Africa Coal Network), Thandile Chinyavanhu (Green Peace Africa) and Xoli Fuyani (Earthchild Project) led an insight discussion, and were joined by Community activists from Gauteng, Limpopo (Musina-Makhado and Lephalale) and Eastern Cape. Reitumetse Molotsoane (National Business Institute) and Chantal Naidoo (Third Generation Environmentalism) also contributed to the conversation.
Some of the key takeaways from the event includes:
- Oil, coal, and other fossil fuels are making climate change worse. We must move to renewable energy, now. How we operate – our farming, ways of doing business, how we live, etc. – these must adapt to the impact of climate change.
- We do not have the luxury of time. As we head to COP26, we need decisive action from government. Incremental changes, at their own pace, will not work. Finalising SA’s Climate Change Bill is important – not only for setting the course for robust climate action, but will also put us in good standing, when dealing with international partners and plans. How we operate – farming, do business, etc. – must adapt to the impact of climate change.
- Not only are women a highly undervalued resource in climate action, but the impacts of climate change will severely affect women.
- Finalising SA’s Climate Change Bill is important – not only for setting the course for robust climate action, but will also put us in good standing, when dealing with international partners and plans.
- To ensure that the country’s youth are fully invested in climate action, we must adjust the messaging and language used when talking to young people on the issue of climate change and the #JustTransition. We must continue creating spaces where they can share their own experiences and ideas. Even though young people feel excluded, there are several youngsters who are taking up space and bring forward the voices of young people, on the issue
Feedback from communities:
vhoMphatheleni Makaulele from Dzomo La Mupo from Limpopo sees the just transition as a shift towards environmentally sustainable societies and economy for all. But we must ensure that the transition is well-managed if we hope to achieve the goals of decent work, social inclusion, and eradicating poverty in all of South Africa. For this to happen, policy makers must recognise science, must invest in the potential of the women in this country and ensure that we are part of the decision-making process.
Tshwela Tshikuwi from the Musina (Makhado) region in Limpopo says, “I stand here as a woman/person responsible for the future of my children. I stand with my people against the MMSEZ. We live from the land & have done so for generations. We can’t stand by and watch as our culture & sacred sites are destroyed. We live off mopani and Marula and more. Projects like the MMSEZ will destroy our way of life.” Pfarelo Bologo – also from Musina – agrees and has started the community-based organisation Pepperbark Environmental to protect this herbal plant, traditionally used by her people.
Elana Greyling in Lephalale says, “We no longer need to guess what will happen with big projects, such as Medupi. The people of Lephalale can tell you what price they are paying for living next to this coal-fired power plant.” Water-scarce area and we must go without water. But the coal mine and power station gets water. There is so much devastation because of Medupi. The poor air quality affects our health. it has also contributed to unemployment. Medupi project has, in fact, made the economic situation worse here.
People know what they want to do on their land. Some want to farm, while others just want to protect their natural environment, for its cultural, medicinal, and historic value. They do not want any more projects that destroy.