Climate change, COVID-19 reveal global society still against feminist agenda

By Henry Neondo

The climate crisis and the COVID-19 have exposed anti-gender rights worldwide, Dr. Maliha Khan, President and CEO of Women Deliver, said at the opening ceremony of the Women Deliver Conference 2023 (WD2023) that is holding in Kigali, Rwanda

“The only way we can push past them is if we double down on our efforts and work together. The time has come for us to unite against the global rollback of rights – change is inevitable, progress is not. We have to work at it,” she said.

Emphasizing the significance of free and open democracies for the progress Women Deliver seeks, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Chair of the Women Deliver Board and former Deputy President of South Africa, expressed, “Women Deliver underscores the vital role of democratic systems in advancing gender equality. Open democracies foster an enabling environment for women’s political participation, policy and law shaping, as well as the protection of women’s rights and the creation of equal opportunities. They facilitate improved access to education and healthcare for girls and women while establishing effective mechanisms to combat genderbased violence.”

WD2023 has been co-created from its inception through the input of thousands of public insights via community consultation and an Advisory Group comprising 60+ representatives from all sectors, with 60% of participants representing feminist and gender equality organizations and entities in the Global South.

WD2023 is themed Spaces, Solidarity, and Solutions. “Each delegate and speaker has converged here with a collective purpose: to identify and act upon evidence-based solutions,” said Maliha. “This week centers on creating empowering spaces for the feminist movement, holding leaders accountable, and creating a groundswell of voices for gender equality. This groundswell of collective action is critical to urge political leaders to act.

Dr Rosalid Nkirote, the executive director of the African Coalition of Communities Responsive to Climate Change (ACCRCC) said women deliver conference of 2023 is coming at a time women around Africa are being challenged by climate vagaries. “The worst part of this is that governments are not giving women resilient initiatives the needed support to help them cope with the greatest challenge of our times,” she said.

She noted that for countries in the East and horn of Africa that witnessed the worst form of drought and in decades that left more than four million people who rely on agriculture as their primary source of income, the impact was devastating, especially for women.

The ACCRCC head noted that the crisis has amplified gender inequalities, with woman and girls left especially vulnerable due to their contracted status and power.