In the quest for a sustainable future, women are emerging as key players in shaping consumption and production patterns that are both ecologically sound and socially responsible. Their management and use of natural resources not only provide sustenance to their families and communities but also contribute to the promotion of sustainable development, ensuring a better quality of life for present and future generations.
Recognizing the vital role of women in environmental preservation, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action identified “Women in the Environment” as one of the twelve critical areas of concern.
This acknowledgement highlights the need to involve women actively in environmental decision-making processes, integrate their concerns and perspectives into policies and programs, and establish mechanisms for assessing the impact of development and environmental policies on women.
In Zimbabwe, efforts have been made to position women at the forefront of the environmental discourse. However, it is essential to recognize the specific challenges that women face, particularly in the context of climate change. Climate-related issues, such as water shortages, disproportionately affect women, especially those residing in remote areas. They are often burdened with the arduous task of fetching water over long distances, impacting their daily lives and overall well-being.
The agricultural sector, a crucial source of livelihood for many women, also faces significant challenges due to climate change. Uncertain weather patterns pose a threat to crop yields, leaving women unsure of whether they will have a successful harvest.
In response, Joyce Chapungu from the Environmental Management Agency emphasizes the promotion of small grain cultivation as an adaptive measure to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on women’s agricultural activities.
“Climate comes with issues to do with water shortages and women, especially in remote areas are the ones that must go and fetch water and travel long distances to get it. Agriculture is also affected which means that whatever they do in the fields, they have no certainty that they will get a harvest. So, in line with that, we promote the growth of small grains.”
Moreover, the mining industry plays a significant role in Zimbabwe’s economy. Marko Raidza from PPC Mines underscores the importance of amplifying women’s voices in mining discussions, particularly regarding climate change issues. Including diverse perspectives and ideas from women is crucial for formulating legislation that addresses the environmental challenges posed by mining activities.
“When we talk about mining currently, we are busy with the mines bill, we want more voices of women to come out, especially on the issues of climate change, you must bring your ideas. We cannot make the laws for you without you. I’m very grateful that maybe from this engagement some views that we are going to use,” he said.
Waste management stands out as one of the major environmental concerns in Zimbabwe. To address this issue, several strategies have been implemented, including the promotion of a circular economy. The circular economy focuses on the reuse, reduction, and recycling of waste materials. Notably, a considerable number of community-based organizations involved in the recycling value chain are led by women.
Furthermore, Sandra Mudzengerere from the Zimbabwe Gender Commission emphasized that many women lack access to crucial information, such as weather predictions and natural disaster alerts.
She highlighted the importance of making such information available in accessible formats for both men and women, including those with disabilities.
By bridging the information gap, she said, women can be better prepared to respond to climate-related challenges and actively participate in decision-making processes.
The active participation of women in the development of sustainable and ecologically sound practices is indispensable for achieving a greener and more equitable future.
Women’s roles as consumers, producers, caretakers, and educators position them at the forefront of promoting sustainable development.
It is imperative to involve women at all levels of environmental decision-making, integrating their concerns, perspectives, and innovative ideas into policies and programs.