Empowering Farmers through Knowledge

Empowering Women for Climate Resilience: Rwanda’s Call to Action at COP28

As the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) unfolds in Dubai, Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, passionately advocates for increased financial support to bolster women’s resilience in the face of climate change. Her compelling plea comes as research underscores that women are disproportionately affected by climate change, making them the frontline warriors against its impacts.

The Ministerial Dialogue:

A Pivotal Moment In a pivotal moment during the ministerial dialogue on “Gender-Responsive Just Transitions and Climate Finance,” Minister Mujawamariya highlighted the stark reality that women, constituting two-thirds of humanity, bear the brunt of climate change. Despite Rwanda’s historically low contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, the nation grapples with severe climate change impacts, including devastating floods and landslides.

The Human Toll:

A Call to Action The tragic events of May 2023 stand as a stark reminder of the human toll exacted by climate change. Floods and landslides, intensified by heavy rains, claimed 135 lives in a single night. Shockingly, over 50% of the victims were women and girls, leaving families bereft of care. Minister Mujawamariya emphasizes the urgent need to build the capacity of women and girls, asserting that investing in vulnerable groups, especially women, is crucial for fostering resilience and inclusivity.

Gender-Responsive Solutions:

A Blueprint for Change To address these challenges head-on, Minister Mujawamariya calls for targeted investments in projects and programs that empower women and girls. She advocates for their active participation in leadership and decision-making roles and stresses the importance of gender-responsive budgeting and financial mechanisms. In her words, “When a woman is empowered, every family is empowered.” The Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, alongside the Ministry of Environment, spearheads efforts to mainstream gender across all sectors of the economy.

UN Climate Change Champion Launches Initiative In a momentous development, Razan Al Mubarak, the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, announces the launch of the COP28 Gender-Responsive Just Transitions and Climate Action Partnership. Endorsed by over 60 countries, this partnership aims to ensure equal opportunities for decent work, facilitate finance flows to climate-impacted women and girls, and advocate for gender-disaggregated data collection—a crucial step toward informed decision-making.

Tales of Resilience:

Women Farmers Leading the Way Amid the challenges, stories of resilience emerge from women farmers like Jane Batamuliza, who recounts the impact of climate change on agriculture, particularly affecting women in Eastern Province. With a lower adoption of smart climate practices, female-led households remain vulnerable to climate shocks. Only 11% of women-led households in agriculture use irrigation, exacerbating their susceptibility to climate change effects compared to male-led households.

Solar-Powered Solutions:

A Glimmer of Hope Despite the adversities, rural women in Ngoma District have pioneered a remarkable transformation through solar-powered irrigation. The intervention has enabled these women to accumulate wealth exceeding Rwf200 million by growing vegetables and increasing food productivity. Through solar-powered pumps, the cooperative, comprising 163 members, including 144 women, has seen a significant rise in yields and now boasts an affordable cold room for storing vegetables before market supply.

As the world convenes at COP28, Rwanda’s clarion call for gender-responsive climate action echoes loud and clear. Investing in women’s resilience is not just a moral imperative; it’s an investment in a sustainable and equitable future. Through targeted initiatives, partnerships, and the indomitable spirit of women farmers, Rwanda stands poised to lead the charge towards a climate-resilient and gender-inclusive world. The time to act is now.

This story was produced with assistance from MESHA and IDRC Eastern and Southern Africa Office for science journalists reporting on COP28.

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