From June through August 2017, GenderCC’s office in South Africa held five workshops in the cities of Tshwane and Johannesburg to discuss climate change and climate solutions with stakeholders. Convening in groups of 25-150 community members, these stakeholders discussed their understanding of climate change and climate solutions, and then GenderCC worked to improve their knowledge and educate these women and citizens with regards to what they can personally do for climate change.
Although many people in South Africa are familiar with climate change, few villagers and citizens realize how it is responsible for changes in their quality of life. In this workshop, GenderCC South Africa staff led small-group discussions of how climate change may be responsible for recent changes in quality of crops, necessity of water, and other farming regimines. Using these simple day-to-day examples made the mechanics of climate change easier to understand. They also discussed individual solutions to these problems, and how to make sure that the citizens‘ farms can be sustainable in the face of climate change. For example, these farmers can work to use less electricity, and make organic fertilizer to use on their crops.
In addition to this discussion of climate change, GenderCCSA was sure to bring in a discussion of gender roles and women’s persecution. The stakeholders attending the workshop agreed that it is essential for organizations and policies to be gender-sensitive, but also that we focus more on the individual and domestic scale of the problem. Women agreed that children need to be brought up with respect for women, and taught not to view them as lesser individuals. Examples of working to create a more gender-just society included educating men to be more active in sustainability activism, and educating women about their civil rights.
Most disappointing was the lack of response from local government agencies and organizations, who in many cases failed to even attend the workshop. Their lack of response to the needs of the community showed a blatant disregard, which unfortunately has come to be expected by local citizens and organizations. Attendees of the workshop agreed on several necessities that local authorities should provide, from basic farming infrastructure to local village safety measures. Ultimately, though, attendees lamented the fact that the government is rarely involved with the populace, and can only be seen during voting time. It will take work to hold the government accountable for the needs of its citizens.
Overall, the workshops allowed for a successful discussion of women’s issues, climate change, and the needs of stakeholders in response to these problems. GenderCC South Africa as well as the Secretariat are glad to have led these workshops as a service to the communities.