Participants at the maiden Africa Women and Children Conference (AFRIWOCC) have called for a shift in the climate action narrative from a problem-based approach to a solution-based approach.
That approach, they contended, should involve identifying and seizing opportunities for innovation, creative solutions, education and empowerment, particularly for women and children.
Spaces must be created for the voices of African women, children and young people to be heard in climate discussions at all levels, they said.
These were contained in a communique released after the two-day AFRIWOCC conference.
The conference sought to address the adverse effects of climate change on vulnerable groups and also document indigenous knowledge and innovations in climate change solutions.
It was on the theme “Amplifying the Voices of Women and Children in Climate Action”.
AFRIWOCC is a biennial conference convened by the wife of the Vice-President, Samira Bawumia, under the Samira Empowerment and Humanitarian Projects (SEHP).
It is to create true inclusivity for women and children across the African Continent through meaningful dialogues and the showcase of innovative solutions to issues confronting women and children in Africa.
The conference, which adopts a prevailing area of focus as a theme, brought together about 800 participants and exhibitors from across Africa, including high-level dignitaries such as President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the Vice President of Liberia, Jewel Taylor.
Also in attendance was the South African Minister for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Other high-ranking government officials from various African countries, members of parliament, development partners, traditional leaders, students and leading figures in climate action across Africa also attended the conference.
Solidarity messages were received from the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, and the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Unified African message
Participants at the conference discussed the importance of presenting a unified African message on climate action, particularly concerning its effects on women, children, youth and persons with disabilities.
The communique mentioned, among other things, that the inadequate institutional capacity and high levels of gender inequality have compounded the adverse impact of climate change in Africa, particularly for women and children.
It also stated that the climate crisis in Africa had an adverse effect on food security, which disproportionately impacts women and children, leading to widespread malnutrition, poor health outcomes, conflict and increased exposure to violence.
The communique said Africa’s youthful population would present an opportunity and a challenge to social cohesion if the right investments were not made in positive climate action.
It, however, recommended the inclusion of gender-balanced delegations to climate change conferences, adoption of indigenous and local-led interventions, capacity building and involvement of traditional authorities in climate action.
Other recommendations included prioritising women and children issues in government policies, integrating climate education into basic school curricula and designing gender-sensitive programmes by development partners, among others.