AACC Commemorates International Women’s Day, Launches An Advocacy Toolkit For Widows’ Justice
From the All Africa Conference of Churches
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a Day marked annually to celebrate contributions of women and to raise compelling voices on pertinent socio-political, economic and cultural issues of women locally and globally. IWD serves as a platform to call for actions to accelerate gender parity.
The AACC theme for IWD 2022 is, “Break the Bias Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow: Role of the Church in Promoting Gender Equality in Adaptation, Mitigation and Response to Climate Change”. This theme is aligned with the global theme, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow,” recognizing the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, to build a more sustainable future for all”. The global theme is drawn from the upcoming 66th Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) theme.
Women play a crucial role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. They have the knowledge and understanding of what is needed to adapt to changing environmental conditions and to come up with practical solutions. Nevertheless, they are still a largely untapped resource. Restricted land rights, lack of access to financial resources, training and technology, and limited access to political, economic, social and religious decision-making spheres; including underrepresentation in Climate Justice forums, often prevent them from playing a full role in tackling climate change and other environmental challenges.
So, how can the church promote gender equality today, to enable women and girls to be equal partners with men in the process of adaptation, mitigation, and response to climate change, for a more sustainable future for all? AACC worked to respond to this question during a Hybrid Continental Consultation to celebrate the IWD on 8th March 2022.
As part of responding to the question, AACC also launched an Advocacy Tool Kit for Justice for Widows. AACC recognizes that widows in Africa experience more than double the violation of a married woman because of some cultural norms and beliefs, which subject them to dehumanizing practices that rob them their rights and dignity. Widows are exposed to poverty, making the impact of climate change even more hostile to them.
NAIROBI, Kenya ( AACC) Africa’s top ecumenical grouping, the All Africa Conference of Churches, joined the global commemoration of International Women’s Day, with a call to involve women and girls in climate change adaptation, mitigation and response.
Church leaders, clergy and women in charge of gender desks, converged at the headquarters of the organization in Nairobi for the hybrid event, alongside AACC Male Champions for Gender Justice, youth, widows, persons with disabilities, officials from disability organizations, and climate and development organizations. Officials also unveiled an advocacy toolkit for widows’ justice.
“When the society is moving to acknowledge and give women responsibility in leadership, the church is lagging far behind,” Rev. Dr. Fidon Mwombeki, the General Secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches told the gathering. “On climate change, we also need to call churches to task to also allow women leadership.”
AACC theme for the event was; “Break the Bias Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow: Role of the Church in Promoting Gender Equality in Adaptation, Mitigation and Response to Climate Change”.
This resonated with the increasing calls to include women in the efforts to solve the climate change crisis since it is the category most impacted by the challenge. Women’s livelihoods, who constitute the majority of the world’s poor, are dependent on natural resources such as water and firewood. These resources are now threatened by climate change. For example, when rains fail, women are hardest hit as many of them are in agriculture, food production and food security. Increases in food prices affect the poor, the majority of who are women.
Moreover, according to Church officials and other experts, without increasing gender equality, it may be difficult to achieve climate justice as well as sustainable development.
At the commemoration, the achievements of women and girls in response to the climate change crisis were highlighted and opportunities, gaps, and challenges the women and girls face due to the occurrence underlined. Speakers also issued
recommendations on how churches, governments, policy makers and stakeholders, can ensure gender equality in climate change actions.
“The outcome will strengthen AACC‘s voice in her regional and global engagement crucial agenda of climate change,” Rev. Dr. Lydia Mwaniki, the Director for Gender and Women at the All Africa Conference of Churches.
Augustine Njamnshi, an official from the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) in Cameroon, said climate change started as far back as 1830, but all the way, the impacts were felt most by people living in countries that are not responsible for the crisis.
“Climate change affects women (in Africa) more. It is the women who should be at the fore front. They should be part of the solution,” said Njamnshi in a keynote address.
Key church leaders in Africa delivered goodwill messages at the event. A panel discussion titled, amplifying our voices to break the gender bias today for sustainable tomorrow, was also held.
“Women with disability are disadvantaged three times; as women, as persons with disabilities and as victims of climate change,” said Grace Achieng’, the programme officer at the National Federation of Women with Disabilities in the panel discussion. “I appeal to the churches to include us in their committees on climate justice and discussions. We can bring something to the table as part of the solution. We know where the shoe pinch.”
Meanwhile, the Advocacy Toolkit for Justice for Widows unveiled at the celebrations also responds to the question of climate justice.
“AACC recognizes that widows in Africa experience more than double the violation of a married woman because of some cultural norms and beliefs, which subject them to dehumanizing practices that rob them of their rights and dignity. Widows are exposed to poverty, making the impact of climate change even more hostile to them,” said the celebration’s concept document.