“There is no limit to what we, as women can accomplish” Michelle Obama
International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on the 8th March, offers an opportunity to reflect on progress made with regards to gender equality, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played extraordinary roles in the history and development of their countries and communities. VERITAS joins all those who have chosen to contribute and lead the charge on climate change, adaption, mitigation and respond to building a more sustainable future for all under the theme #Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow. This day has been celebrated for over 100 years now in different countries and in 1975, the United Nations officially marked it as International Women’s day.
Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow
This year’s theme advances gender equality in the context of climate crisis and disaster reduction in the 21st century. The theme highlights that girls and women are effective and powerful leaders and change makers for climate adaption and mitigation being involved in sustainability initiatives around the globe.
Gender Equality and Climate Change
Zimbabwe committed itself to gender justice and climate justice through ratification of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (2015) and the African Union Agenda 2063 which among other goals seek to achieve enjoyment of equal opportunity between men and women as well as respond to the growing threats of climate change whilst ensuring that the burden and gains are equitably shared.
Zimbabwean women face aggravated challenges due to lack of comprehensive gender-responsive budgeting that addresses basic needs of climate change. Food security, access to clean water, and shelter from extreme weather changes remain pertinent challenges of climate change.
70% of the world’s poor are women. Restricted land rights, lack of access to financial resources, training and technology, and limited access to political decision-making spheres often prevent them from playing a full role in tackling climate change and other environmental challenges. Financing climate justice must be gender-responsive due to its ability to promote climate justice efforts whilst promoting gender equality. According to the UNDP (2014) only 0.01% of global funding supports climate justice and women’s rights. Gender-responsive financing for climate justice ensures that the needs of both men and women are equitably addressed and efficiency can be derived from ensuring that clear policies, monitoring and reporting mechanisms are in place so as to track the efficiency of the financing strategies
Current Legal Position in Zimbabwe
The Government of Zimbabwe signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 and over the years has made some efforts to domesticate this convention notwithstanding the absence of a specific law on climate change. The inclusion of environmental rights in the 2013 Constitution set the foundation for crafting laws addressing climate change. Citizens are rightfully exercising this right and the court has also ruled that what is important to highlight is that the Constitution gives every Zimbabwean the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations.
The constitutional inclusion not only ensures protection, but it places environmental issues at the same level of concern as other human rights. Currently, the main climate change legislation in Zimbabwe includes the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority Act [Chapter 13:23], the Environmental Management Act [Chapter 20:27], the Electricity Act [Chapter 13:19] and the Forest Act [Chapter 19:05].
Advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis and disaster reduction is one of the greatest challenges of 13:19 century. The issues of climate change and sustainability have and will continue to have severe impacts on women and girls.