News / Africa

    Rural Women in Africa Speak Out at Climate Conference

    Environmental activists demonstrate outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties meeting in Durban, November 29, 2011.
    Environmental activists demonstrate outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties meeting in Durban, November 29, 2011.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    • Gabe Joselow's report from the climate change conference in Durban

    It looked and sounded like a celebration.

    But participants at this gathering of rural women from across Africa have a serious message for the delegates at the COP-17 climate conference.

    “We've come to join other rural women farmers from the southern African region," said Thandiure Chidararume, a member of ActionAid, an international organization that helped bring together this meeting of the Southern African Rural Women's Assembly. "We have come as one voice from Africa, we are saying no to damning deals, Africa is not for sale, we want this air pollution that is causing climate change to stop now."

    The assembly unites women's farming and agricultural unions and movements from around the world.

    Women from all across Africa, some as far north as Kenya, came out to the rally at a Kawaulu-Natal University in Durban, several kilometers from the downtown convention center where the more subdued, official meetings on climate change are taking place.


    Members of African rural women's movements gather in Durban, South Africa to rally for progress at the nearby U.N. climate summit, Nov. 30, 2011. (Photo VOA - Gabe Joselow)

    The women say they have felt the real impact of climate change in their communities, as shifting weather patterns have caused wells to dry up and harvests to diminish.

    The concerns are real, said Theresa Marwei, an activist from Zimbabwe.

    “I think if we can agree, all the countries that we are here, not to let the air be polluted, because we are having hunger, no water to drink, no gardens, no money to send our children to school because no rain," she said. "If the rain comes it will be floods, we can't do anything.”

    Women at the assembly are directing a lot of their anger at the government negotiators at COP-17, who they say are not acting in the peoples' interest.

    Canstance Mogale, representing the Landless Movement of South Africa, directed taunts and jeers at the U.S. delegation, blaming them of holding up progress on a global climate pact.  She even led a song directed at chief U.S. negotiator Todd Stern.

    Women's movements in Latin America have also expressed solidarity with the African women's assembly.

    The two regions have confronted many of the same issues, including so-called land grabs in the name of combating climate change.  In these instances, biofuel companies or other firms purchase large tracts of land in developing countries to make a profit from the business of trading credit for carbon emissions.

    Former Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations Pablo Solone addressed the women's assembly in Durban.

    “In Copenhagen, in Cancun and here in Durban we say: change the capitalist system, not the climate," he said. "We have to change this logic of trying to buy and sell everything.  Life doesn't have a price.”

    The women's assembly is mostly skeptical that governments are acting on their behalf.

    Mercia Andrews, the director of the South African Trust for Community Outreach and Education, said the organization fits in with her country's history of social movements.

    “We have a responsibility, we have to begin to mobilize and we have the power," Andrews said. "We have shaken this country before, we brought down apartheid, now is another turn. This is a bigger struggle, a more important struggle and this is a struggle that we must unite around.  We must say, 'No, to climate apartheid, no.'”

    The U.N.-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said Africa is the region that will suffer most from the effects of climate change.

    It is not clear whether the world's climate negotiators will come up with a deal to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions, and expectations for a strong global pact are very low.

    But the women's assembly is anything but pessimistic. With more mass action and protests planned on the sidelines of the COP 17, the women of rural Africa will be sure they are seen and heard.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.