African women meet in Port Harcourt to brainstorm on energy, climate change

Posted by News Express | 27 September 2015 | 3,676 times

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African women have converged on Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to deliberate on the impact of the extractive industry in fossil energy on women in the host communities and the environment.

Holding from September 26 to October 2 at the Beverly Hotels, GRA Port Harcourt, the one-week strategy meeting is being put together by the African Women in the Extractive Industries (WOMIN) in association with some Nigerian non-governmental organisations, Kebetkache Women Resource and Development Resource Center, Homef, Environmental Rights Action, Era and CEEfor Hope.

It is sponsored by Africa Groups of Sweden, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Dreikonigsaktion, Fastenopfer, Ford Foundation, Heinrich Boll Foundation, MamaCash and Norwegian People’s Aid.

According to the Executive Director of WOMIN, Samantha Greaves, “The meeting offers a platform for women leaders, supported by activists from NGOs/support organisations, to deepen their knowledge about the fossil fuels industry globally – its history, power and influence - the impacts of fossil fuels extraction and combustion, and the associated climate change, all read through a political economy and transformative women’s rights perspective.”

Participants will also share experience on research and knowledge-building efforts, organising, and resistance to fossil fuels extraction and combustion, to deepen women’s organising efforts in their communities/movements.

The meeting will also examine the development alternatives from an eco-feminist structural change perspective, agree on a longer-term collaboration through a women-led regional campaign addressing fossil fuels, climate justice, energy and women’s rights and fashion out some key activities to start building this campaign over the next 6-8 months.

It will also provide opportunity for Nigerian women, in solidarity with women from other countries in the region, to share their analysis and recommendations with Nigerian policy makers.

A highlight of the African women gathering will be a unified action with affected women on the global day of women’s action on climate change on Tuesday, September 29.

The majority of participants to the meeting will be women activists from communities affected by fossil fuels and uranium extraction and combustion, or working in solidarity with women so affected. The participating countries are: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana.

The multi-lateral climate negotiations platform (the United Nations Conference of the Parties, or COP) has substantially failed to deliver binding agreements for emissions reduction on countries, and particularly the developed countries that carry historical liability for a looming climate change catastrophe.

The call for climate justice recognises that it is people on the ground who, through their mobilisations, their demands and their solutions hold the only hope for the planet, which represents a significant rationale for a WOMIN focus on fossil fuels, energy and climate justice.

According to WOMIN, in the African region the women’s movement has substantially failed to grasp the imperative for a major focus on climate change and a struggle for climate justice.

“This is a just and most necessary struggle since it is women in sub-Saharan Africa who do already and will continue to bear the brunt of deepening climate change impacts, not least increased food security. Our region and its poorest women are the most vulnerable and hence must be the ones that lead the struggle and posit the necessary solutions.”

It added that energy is a women’s rights question as because of women’s primary responsibility for the reproduction of workers, families and communities, they have the greatest interest in the supply of safe, decent, reliable energy lacking in the region and requiring a revolution which addresses the production needs of the majority of small scale producers, traders and the reproductive needs of families and communities first.

This, WOMIN maintained, requires a fundamental change in energy planning, production and distribution as well as a significant challenge to the way in which energy is produced and distributed globally as the current model sees poor and indigenous communities in the South and poor black communities in the North carrying the burden of impact, whilst the energy benefits are unequally distributed and enjoyed.

WoMin’s analysis of land displacements for extractives industries (mining, oil and gas) in Africa has pointed to their gendered impacts given women’s critical role in the production of 60-80 per cent of food crops consumed by rural households. 

Speakers at the meeting include environmental laureate Nnimmo Bassey, Otive Igbuzor, Elaine Zukkerman, Samantha Heavegraves.

•Photo shows Nnimo Bassey.

Source: News Express

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