Deputy Minister Maggie Sotyo: Promotion and Protection of Women’s Rights and Empowerment in the Context of Climate Change Side Event

Speaking notes for Deputy Minister Sotyo on Promotion and Protection of Women’s Rights and Empowerment in the Context of Climate Change Side Event.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Let me also join my voice to those that say women’s rights are human rights. When all is said and done, we need to recognise women and girls as effective powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation. Their involvement in sustainability initiatives around the world, in their communities, and their participation and leadership, has clearly demonstrated that this results in more effective climate action.

It is essential to continuing to examine the opportunities, as well as the constraints, to empower women and girls to have a voice and be equal players in decision-making related to climate change and sustainable development and greater gender equality.

Without gender equality today, a sustainable equal future remains beyond our reach.

Empowering women and promoting gender equality are crucial to accelerating sustainable development, as espoused in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but also has a multiplier effect across all other areas of development.

Some of the strategies that can be employed to achieve full gender equality in our societies in this lifetime include –

• ensuring that women and girls’ voices are not excluded from global and national decision-making. When programmes and policies are designed without women’s needs central to their foundation, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Ensuring full inclusivity is crucial.

• ensuring that women and girls have access to science, technology, engineering and maths education. The role of women in technology should be acknowledged and encouraged for the future we want to see.

• urgently putting an end to gender-based violence around the world.

• improving the gender sensitivity of the education system. Although there has been much progress in increasing access to education, it has been slow in improving the sensitivity towards gender-related issues within the education system.

• raising aspirations of girls and their parents. We need to give girls positive images and role models that expand their dreams.

• empowering women at the community level whilst enhancing girls’ education.

• giving proper value to women’s work. The unpaid work women and girls do provides the foundation for the global economy. This fact needs to be highlighted more in the media, the private sector and communities. More research and data on this point could be useful in promoting the key role and contributions women and girls play in and make to the economy, and the need for proper recognition and compensation, including having campaigns for equal pay for equal work worldwide.

• getting women into power - a proven way to overcome many systemic barriers to a woman’s success has been increased participation by women in local, regional and national legislation as empowered change agents.

In South Africa, gender-responsive approaches that have been developed are aimed at reducing gender inequalities and ensuring equal benefit between males and females from climate-smart agricultural interventions and practices, which leads to more sustainable and equitable results. We initiated work to ensure that gender equality aspects are factored into the National Determined Contribution implementation processes and climate change actions by strengthening institutional mechanisms, ensuring gender-responsive climate actions and disseminating best practices to enhance national-level capacities. This project is aimed at contributing to the development of South Africa’s first climate change Gender Action Plan that mainstreams gender and sets out clear action areas for gender-responsive national climate action at all levels.

In conclusion, gender equality cannot be achieved by doing work on this important issue in silos. It must be an inclusive collaborative effort with all hands on deck. We cannot have policies for us (women and girls), without us. thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa