Africa must unlock the power of its women and girls if it is to adapt to climate change, cope with disasters and build its green energy sector
KATOWICE, Poland, December 14, 2018/ — That is the message from African delegates as the world prepares to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change in Katowice, Poland, this week.
Research shows that when women are involved in decision making, agreements on the environment are more likely to be ratified and projects around natural resources, such as water, are more likely to succeed.
If given access to education and finance, African women can contribute to finding technological solutions and driving the continent’s renewable energy industry too.
“When you empower women in the context of climate change you empower a family, a community and a country,” says Dana Elhassan, senior gender expert at the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), which allocates international funds to development projects.
“You cannot solve a problem with half the team. A lot of the unpaid work that women do, such as collecting firewood and water, and caring for the family, are massively affected by climate change – so we have to make sure adaptation initiatives address their needs, vulnerabilities and potential.”
Women as agents of change
Studies show that when women are part of decision making, ratification of multilateral agreements on the environment are more likely, adds Mafalda Duarte, head of the $8.3 billion Climate Investment Fund, one of the largest climate financing instruments in the world.
There is also strong evidence that women play a vital role in dealing with disasters by mobilising communities – something that will become increasingly important as climate change advances, she says.
“Discourse is quite tilted to considering women as victims of climate change – but we are agents of change and if we are perceived as such this will make a big difference,” says Ms Duarte.
“Our empowerment represents greatly under-utilised opportunities to build our economies and tackle climate change.”
When women are empowered – given access to finance, assets and decision making – there are big impacts across sectors, she adds.
“Renewable energy is traditionally seen as a male sector but if you are deliberate in giving access to women, they become entrepreneurs and help us push forward that agenda,” says Ms Duarte.
Women can drive business and technology solutions
When women are empowered equally to men there is a massive leap forward in economic gains: a recent McKinsey study found that if women were participating economically as much as men, they would be adding 28 trillion dollars to global GDP by 2025.
In Africa, lack of access to finance has resulted in an estimated $42 billion financing gap for women entrepreneurs across business value chains.
Yet unlocking African women’s ingenuity and giving them access to finance could generate technological advancements that help deal with climate change, believes the African Development Bank.
As mobile phone technology has proven, Africa is capable of leapfrogging into an era of digitisation, which minimises risks and cuts costs of doing business.
African women have shown potential to compete in this digital work-space – Mfarm, AppsTech, JuaKali, Nandimobile, Hehe Ltd, Obami, DotNxt, are only a few of the women-led tech startups in Africa listed by Forbes.
“If we women are given the right platforms, we will achieve the change we wish to see in the world,” says Ms Duarte.
Unlocking investment in African women holds incredible return and transformational impact
potential. Women form the backbone of African economies, accounting for a majority of small- and medium-sized businesses and dominating the agriculture sector as primary producers and food processors,
COP24 is the 24th conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This year countries are preparing to implement the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit the world’s global warming to no more than 2C.
SOURCE African Development Bank Group (AfDB)
Musonda Chikwanda: Driving the Girl Up-United Nations Foundation in Africa
Musonda Chikwanda Regional Manager, Africa – Girl Up-United Nations Foundation
Girl Up is a girl-centered leadership development initiative, focusing on equity for girls and women in spaces where they are unheard or underrepresented. It believes when girls and women are in positions of influence, they work to create a more just and equitable world for everyone. Girl Up operates a global network of regional affiliates reaching 150,000 girls in 130 countries. The initiative delivers evidence-based leadership development training through its girl-led Clubs, programs, and events.
As members of a global movement, girls are a force for social good connected to a Community of their peers who are advocating for policy change and advancing gender justice. Founded in 2010 and hosted by the United Nations Foundation, Girl Up welcomes girls and youth of all gender identities to start a Club and join its movement to advance gender justice worldwide. Together, they are expanding girls’ skills, rights, and opportunities to lead, and changing the face of leadership for generations to come.
Musonda Chikwanda serves as Regional Manager for Africa with the United Nation Foundation under the Girl Up initiative. As Regional Manager for Africa, she coordinates and organizes adolescent girls’ programs in Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM), advocacy and gender equality lead by adolescents’ girls to help bridge the gap in access to education and stimulate/engage girls to take up careers in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Musonda also mentors and provides training on leadership to youths from different African countries.
Girl Up guides members along their journey from leader to changemaker with specialized programming in organizing, advocacy, fundraising, and communications. Its evidence-based Leadership Course includes interactive modules centered on a three-pronged leadership framework. That is, Leader of Self, Leader of Peers, and Leaders of Change. They’re motivating a generation of leaders to raise their voices in their schools and communities. Advocate to local and national decision-makers, and work together to advance gender equality for girls and women.
An Authentic Platform
Girl Up is committed to hearing and amplifying the voices of girls across our channels and platforms. Its online Community is both a place for members to share their perspectives and a place for them to connect to a wider global community of peers. Both in person and online, Girl Up fosters a positive community that bridges cultural divides to advance important dialogues on social issues happening around the world.
Issues in Focus
Girl Up is committed to advancing gender justice across issue areas that intersect with gender equality. All of which share a focus of giving girls and women equal rights, access, agency, and opportunities.
- Gender Equality.
- Sports for a Purpose.
- STEM for Social Good.
- Girls’ Education.
- Gender-Based Violence.
- Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice.
Girl Up works to build and maintain a constituency dedicated to improving the lives of all girls around the world. Girl Up envisions an empowered and powerful generation of young women leaders who promote and defend gender equality in their own communities and around the world.
Crtve DEVELOPMENT launches WE!ARE to promote climate change awareness in Africa
Crtve DEVELOPMENT CEO, Dr. Okito Wedi (Photo: Supplied).
In addition to making profits, it has become a necessity for businesses and organisations to embrace a consistent, policy-driven culture of giving back to the community where they do business. The reason is that a policy-driven socially responsible endeavour is a sustainable and socially responsible endeavour. Businesses that have this corporate mindset are the ones that eventually provide solutions that truly meet the needs of the community they serve, even when they are profit-driven.
As a platform that showcases African businesses, innovations, and entrepreneurs, Business Africa Online (BAO) is excited to witness yet another novel and beneficial platform where businesses, NGOs, funders, and organisations are standing side by side with talents and creatives in the arts and entertainment to ensure they find expression and use those expressions to deliver the needed solution to pressing issues that affect communities in Africa, and in this case, climate change.
The Crtve Development (CD) WE!ARE climate justice campaign is an initiative that is long overdue because the solutions that have been proposed for climate change have mainly taken into account people living in places like Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, and we need local solutions to local climate change problems.
Dr. Okito Wedi, Founder and CEO of Crtve DEVELOPMENT, stated: “Through the WE!ARE campaign, we want to harness the power of art and creativity to change the narrative on climate change and development in Africa and bridge the gap between communities who will most be affected and policymakers who will determine our climate future.”
CD, together with other trusted partners, has rolled out the WE!ARE campaign to socialise the disproportionate effects of climate change on vulnerable communities on the African continent. Using creativity, the campaign will discover and amplify young people’s unique experiences and demands to surmount the challenges of climate change through climate justice.
Climate justice emphasizes the fact that Africa contributes the least to global warming, yet Africans are the most affected by climate change. As a result, those with the least capacity to cope and adapt to the impacts of climate change face the biggest threat. Climate justice aims to redress this inequality by fairly sharing the problem of climate change as well as the responsibility of dealing with it equitably, with all countries around the world. As a result, the launch of the WE!ARE campaign allows for a conversation about structure, system, and policy to take centre stage between African creatives and the corporate world about how they approach the challenge of climate change.
Collaboration between African creatives and the business community is no longer born from just mere excitement or the need to latch on to trends, but a deliberate and long-term agenda of every business and organization in Africa. This is a major win that BAO is excited about and we celebrate CD for leading the ingenious path that will benefit all because climate change affects everyone in the ecosystem.
In the coming days, weeks, and months, BAO looks forward to more businesses, organizations, and funders partnering with CD on this project to amplify the great work that is being done. It is a fact that one of the most effective ways of driving sustainable change through creativity is for the corporate world to provide the frameworks, systems, policies, assets, and seed funding needed to sustain the process.
Another big win for the WE!ARE movement is that it will help to improve the proper valuation in corporate policies for the growing social and economic value of creativity and innovation in Africa. Creatives will truly be regarded as using their talents to campaign for real solutions to challenges in Africa, and not just for leisurely endeavours.
From our vantage point, we wholeheartedly celebrate the immense work and achievements of Crtve Development (CD) and its strategic partners, including the Climate Emergency Collaboration Group, Danish Government, Ford Foundation and the World Resources Institute (WRI) on this worthy cause they have embarked on. We hope that as a result of this work, the subject of climate change will no longer be treated as secondary or alien, but as an issue that all hands must be on deck to address with the collaboration of the corporate world, NGOs, funders, and the creative communities in Africa.
Johns Hopkins Faith Adole is Giving Back to Africa
Johns Hopkins University trained Faith Adole is a healthcare executive and entrepreneur paasionate about healthcare advocacy, public health and inspiring African nurses and midwives to lead in global health settings. In this exclusive with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online(BAO), Faith talks about her foundation, interventions in Africa and passion for improving healthcare access to underserved communities around the globe. Excerpts.
Faith Adole is a trained nurse practitioner, healthcare executive, and entrepreneur. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer and founder of U-VOL Foundation, Inc. A servant leader, Faith is passionate about inspiring African nurses and midwives to lead in global health settings. She is committed to health care advocacy and bridging the gaps in existing health care and wellness needs for less privileged communities throughout the world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Faith was inspired to start the U-VOL Foundation after volunteering in several international medical outreaches within Africa and seeing firsthand the poor health/hygiene practices, preventable health illnesses and even deaths in many disadvantaged and rural societies. Faith also noticed the existing inequities in Global Health delivery within Africa with a notable lack of Global Health leadership by African women as well as by those within the nursing profession.
As an African in diaspora, and as Nurse Executive with multiple years of field-based experience, Faith brings a fresh and dynamic approach to leading in the Community and Global Health sectors. Faith is currently completing her doctoral studies in Nursing as well as an MBA at Johns Hopkins University.
Inspiration behind U-Vol and what it’s set to achieve
U-VOL Foundation (United Vessels of Love Foundation) is a registered international non-profit healthcare foundation transforming lives one community at a time. Through its mission to help meet the unmet healthcare and wellness needs of vulnerable societies. This is done through medical outreach, health education, WASH and other healthcare sustainability initiatives.
The organization emphasizes love and care for all humanity through its global partnerships, its healthcare initiatives and through healthcare advocacy. U-VOL’s vision is to build dynamic relationships and partnerships with people, communities, and organizations to create global healthcare and wellness initiatives to lessen existing healthcare disparities worldwide.
Recent projects, challenges, funding and impact
Since 2015, Faith alongside U-VOL’s volunteer teams have embarked on successful international medical missions in Nigeria and in South Africa. As well as multiple domestic health and wellness domestic outreaches with the United States.
Under Faith’s leadership, her team has successfully launched a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program (WASH) in Nigeria in 2021. And recently concluded a solar powered clean water borehole project. The recent water project provided a sustainable source of clean water for 1700 people in Obi LGA of Benue State, Nigeria. Before the borehole, residents had zero access to clean water and frequented a local stream within the village called Orowu. Which dries up seasonally and gets contaminated easily during the rainy season as the same water source is used for multiple uses. This intervention will help to lessen the burden of preventable water-borne disease through harnessing a clean and long-lasting energy source.
Water Project video HERE
U-VOL’s borehole intervention swiftly follows a medical mission in the same Obi community, where a team of medical volunteers treated over 600 people. The recent medical mission and clean water project was powered by volunteers, public and private support, and a local project management team. Through skillful planning, efficient operations, strategic partnerships, thought leadership, and perseverance, Faith has been able to overcome challenges that come from influencing positive change within the African health sector despite various obstacles.
Your view on the health sector in Nigeria and Africa
“The truth is, there is so much opportunity for Africans within the diaspora and for those within the continent to collaborate for long lasting impact and change. I love the saying, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go further, go together’. It’s high time Africans begin to write their own narrative and leverage on the knowledge, skills, resources and influence within the continent as well as in the diaspora. Collaboration and unity will help us move forward. This is because we need both dialogue and action.
We need various stakeholders at multiple levels as well as diversity and inclusion of thoughts and hands. Community development and relief organizations are still relevant and have their place but it will take all of us to truly impact healthcare in the long term, through advocacy, healthcare policy, legislation, research, technology, education development, infrastructure, job creation and through many other avenues.”
Finally, your plans for the year
U-VOL plans to continue expanding its newly launched Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program. Which is targeted at empowering and advocating for vulnerable rural communities throughout various parts of Nigeria. The organisation hopes to help aid both governmental and other NGO efforts to eradicate open defecation, provide health promotion education activities on hygiene and sanitation, and promote the construction of public toilet facilities.
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