Climate Change: Tanzania integrates women in the fight

Speaker of the National Assembly Tulia Ackson addresses an audience at the ATE annual leadership conference in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday. PHOTO | SUNDAY GEORGE

  • President Samia champions for inclusion of women in the fight against climate change as shown by her actions at COP26

Dar es Salaam. Experts are of the view that it is women and children who happen to be the main victims of climate change impacts, and Tanzania has pledged to ensure that women are effectively involved in tackling the climate threat. Share your thoughts on climate change and get the chance to interact with your audience in real-time. If you wish to have a stronger digital presence, buy twitch viewers.

The country’s drive was asserted when President Samia Suluhu Hassan attended the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, (COP 26), and became one of the first three presidents to sign the ‘Glasgow Women’s Leadership Statement’.The agreement calls for support of the leadership of women and girls in all aspects of climate change which was one of the promises and priorities of President Hassan’s leadership in the drive to mitigate climate scourge.

Strategies to ensure that this is achieved have been further articulated towards the International Women’s Day which will be celebrated on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 where the government and stakeholders have stated strategies in place to achieve her Excellency’s goal.

In its annual leadership conference held on Wednesday, March 2, 2022 the Association of Tanzania’s Employers (ATE) brought together leaders from the public and private sectors, international organisations, various institutions and leadership stakeholders alike to discuss climate change.

The discussion aimed at discussing how the catastrophe has affected women and how the latter participate in the management of behaviour change for sustainable national development and the world as a whole.

The conference coincided with the graduation of cohort seven of Female Future Programme students. This programme has been in existence since 2016 when it was launched by President Hassan, who at the time was the Vice President of Tanzania.

This training is run by ATE in collaboration with the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), Norway’s largest organisation for employers, to improve the effectiveness of women’s workplaces.

“So far we have succeeded in training up to 201 women who have shown effectiveness in leadership in various fields and we have created a database with their CVs if needed,” says Suzanne Ndomba-Doran, the director general and chief executive officer of ATE.

The conference was themed: “Climate Change Management; Equality for Current and Future Development”.

The participants believed that Tanzania still has a great opportunity to set an example in dealing with the tragedy without leaving anyone behind.

Mr Sanjay Rughani, the chairman of CEO Roundtable of Tanzania, and CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Tanzania says the problem of climate change must be addressed by all including women.

“We support women to climb the ladder in our companies so that they can be among the decision makers even in environmental matters. By doing this, we will all come together in mitigating the menace,” he says.

For his part, Mr Abdulmajid Nsekela, the CEO of CRDB Bank Plc says agriculture is the main employer for women, so in educating them on the best modern methods of agriculture, women can be at the forefront of caring for and protecting the environment.

“As a bank we have already seen it fit to invest in that to enable women to be part of the climate fight here in Tanzania,” he notes.

Government’s take

Highlighting how the President’s vision was being implemented, Parliament Speaker Tulia Ackson says that women and men in general are affected by climate change but there are differences in how it affects the two genders.

She says according to UN figures, 80 percent of the people who are forced to relocate due to climate change are women.

This, she notes, is due to their role as family caregivers which puts them at greater risk during floods and droughts.

Dr Ackson explains that the Paris Agreement in 2015 also placed special emphasis on empowering them and recognising that women are most affected by climate change.

“Studies also show that women are the main custodians of the environment in our communities ranging from rural to urban and that is why as a nation we want them to be at the forefront in addressing this issue,” she said.

“Women are also heavily involved in agriculture in rural areas so these drastic changes threaten their daily agricultural activities,” she notes.

She says the government recognizes the importance of women’s participation in decision-making on environmental issues.

Recently, she explains, President Hassan appointed Prof Esnati Osinde Chaggu as chairperson of the Board of the National Environmental Management Council (NEMC).

“This clearly shows that as a nation we recognise the potential of women in leading institutions that address environmental issues that are directly related to climate change matters,” she notes.

However, she says, they are still aware that women’s participation at leadership levels in environmental issues is not satisfactory.

This is due to a number of factors such as education and awareness of such issues as well as the participation of women from lower levels of decision-making such as local government, according to Dr Ackson.

“When climate change drives people to move and seek resources like water elsewhere, the most burdened are women. As a government we will continue our efforts to ensure gender equality at various levels of response to climate change,” she promises.

Various studies show that climate change increases poverty and undermines efforts to bring about gender equality while the main victims of these changes are women and children.

Dr Ackson urges companies to continue to ensure that they increase the number of women in senior positions to give them the opportunity to participate in decision-making as their perspective on the environment is very important.

She urges all women to take time to learn and be aware of the issues of leadership in the field of climate change, while advising ATE to include the matter in the training programme so that women leaders can fully participate in climate change discussions with an understanding.

In Tanzania the environmental and climate change agenda is a priority as President Hassan has been at the forefront of ensuring that the country does not lag behind in participating in various regional and international efforts to address climate change.

In November last year, when the President attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference, she had the opportunity to address and explain how Tanzania has been affected by the changes.

President Hassan took the opportunity to call on developed nations to participate fully economically in responding to the crisis by fulfilling their financial commitments.

What the law states

In 1997 Tanzania introduced the first environmental policy which aimed to address the six environmental challenges of the time which were land degradation, access to clean and safe water in urban and rural areas and deforestation.

Others were pollution, degradation of marine life and loss of wildlife habitat.

The policy aimed to ensure that the nation has sustainable resources to meet the needs of the present and future generations.

The result of the policy saw the achievement of the Environmental Management Act 2004 and its 25 regulations, and the establishment of a national and sectorial, institutional, local government framework in controlling environmental degradation.

However, changes in science and technology, the existence of new forms of pollution as well as new regional and international agreements forced the country to enact a new policy which was launched in February (National Environment Policy 2021).

Statement No 3rd of August 2019 On the State of the Environment showed that land degradation has continued to increase from 42 percent in 1980, 50 percent in 2012 and 63 percent in 2018 a situation that is dangerous for generations.

In this context, the new policy, unlike the first, has addressed climate change issues more broadly, focusing on the use of technology in waste recycling.

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