Women in Environment conference

Event date: 
2016-08-25 13:19 to 2016-08-26 13:19

  Women in Environment Dialogues      
Introduction and background
About Women in Environment conference
Conference objectives
Stakeholders / target audience
Related links


Introduction and background

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) took a decision during 2013/ 2014 Financial Year to develop a Strategy Toward Gender Mainstreaming in the Environment Sector 2016 - 2021, the first such sector strategy in the country, in order to comply to national gender priorities as outlined in the provisions of the MINTECH approved Sector Gender Framework for the Environment Sector, the Constitution (Act No. 108 of 1996), Women’s Charter for Effective Equality, 1994; the National Framework for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality, 2000; the Strategic Framework for Gender Equality within the Public Service, 2006; and the National Development Plan Vision 2030, 2012 (NDP).

The country has also made commitments to international gender priorities set out in, to name a few, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995, the Millennium Development Goals, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 1993, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, 1995, the Sustainable Development Goals, 2015 etc. Further to this commitment, the Environment Sector commits itself to take into account principles of gender equality in its employment practices, policies, programmes and service delivery. The sector has further committed to take initiatives that aim at addressing the imbalances of the past and gender inequality regardless of race, religion, disability, etc.

South Africa commemorates Women’s Month in August as a tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. The Government of South Africa declared August women’s month and 9 August is celebrated annually as Women’s Day.

In 2015, The Department of Environmental Affairs hosted the sixth Women and Environment Dialogue. The dialogue formed part of the Women’s Month celebrations and to celebrate women in the Environment Sector. During her opening address, the Deputy Minister reflected on the achievements and progresses of the environment sector gender initiatives.

The theme of the dialogue was the “Role of Women in Accelerating a Transition towards a green economy”.

Since 1994, South Africa has made significant strides in ensuring gender mainstreaming and the inclusion of women in key decision making processes. The National Environmental Management Act makes it clear that the vital role of women and youth in environmental management and development must be recognised and their full participation must be promoted. The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development also recognised the importance of gender equality in all efforts to achieve environmental sustainability.


About Women in Environment Conference

Women in Environment is one of the 12 critical areas of concern identified in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted by global leaders at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The platform pinpointed three strategic objectives for government action on the environment. These include involving women actively in environmental decision-making at all levels, integrating their concerns and perspectives in policies and programmes, and establishing ways to assess the impact of development and environmental policies on women.

There have previously been six Women in Environment Conferences hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). Since the 2005 and 2006 conferences a firm basis has been laid for the sector’s women and environment agenda. These two conferences defined clear areas of action for government, civil society and business. The 2008 conference took a step further by resolving to develop a structured Women and Environment forum for the country.

The National Women and Environment Forum established in 2010 provided a platform for women to share experiences in the environment sector representing all spheres of Government spheres, private sector and organised business, civil society representatives in rural and urban environments, organised labour, as well as academia and research institutions.

The 2012 conference focused on the reflection of 56 years of women united against unemployment, poverty and inequality coinciding with the accenting of the NDP (2013-2014 the sector focussed efforts on putting together the framework and systems for gender mainstreaming to give to effect the aspirations of the NDP). The Women in Environment Dialogue held in August 2015 reflected and took stock of the environment sector’s gender mainstreaming progress, successes and challenges and made agreements on the next decade priorities and opportunities through discussions around various themes.

The DEA committed to consolidate these agreed priorities for the next decade into a Strategy toward Gender Mainstreaming in the Environment Sector with an Action Plan for implementation in 2016 – 2021. The deliberations that were captured during the 2015 Women in Environment event were instrumental in directing the content and priorities that were identified and highlighted by the Strategy and Action Plan. The Strategy and Action Plan have since been approved by the Ministerial Executive Forum (MINMEC) in May 2016 and DEA is currently in the process of commencing to implement the priorities identified therein for the period 2016 – 2021.

A National Workshop was held on 22 – 23 June 2016 with the aimed to:

  • Introduce to Stakeholders the Approved Strategy Toward Gender Mainstreaming in the Environment Sector 2016 – 2021;
  • Present the Action Plan Performance Measures to be implemented during 2016 – 2021 by Sector Partners;
  • Identify existing baselines for the Performance Measures identified by the Action Plan 2016 – 2021;
  • Recommend a process for establishing baselines and setting targets for the Performance Measures; a
  • Initiate a process to make annual commitments against the Performance Measures as outlined in the Action Plan 2016 – 2021 as well as reporting arrangements for monitoring progress made.


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Conference objectives

The Women in Environment Conference 2016 is aimed mainly to be a platform for the formal launching of the Strategy toward Gender Mainstreaming in the Environment Sector 2016 – 2021 and Action Plan.

The following are high level objectives of the Women in Environment Conference 2016:

  • Raise awareness about the newly approved sector gender strategy – advocacy on gender equality and sustainability of gender mainstreaming initiatives in the environment sector was identified in the strategy as arguably the most important vehicles toward reaching goals set out by this strategy. This gathering will be an opportunity to present findings of the strategy on the country’s current standing and identify gaps toward implementing gender imperatives made at national at international platforms i.e.:
    • the Constitution (Act No. 108 of 1996),
    • Women’s Charter for Effective Equality, 1994,
    • the National Framework for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality, 2000
    • the Strategic Framework for Gender Equality within the Public Service, 2006.
    • the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995,
    • the Millennium Development Goals,
    • the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 1993,
    • the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, 1995.
  • To present the annual commitments and targets for the performance measures from all relevant stakeholders toward the implementation of the Action Plan for 2016 – 2021 as outlined in the Strategy and summarized in the Table below:


Key performance areas Perfromance indicators
  • Research and development
  • Number of research projects finalised
  • Number of skills development initiatives conducted
  • Number of gender implementation instruments developed
  • Number of mentoring programmes created
  • Number of finance opportunities offered to up and coming female students  
  • Partnerships
  • Number of partnerships forged
  • Number of sector initiatives expanded to other sectors
  • Number of women beneficiaries in environmental programmes
  • Events
  • Number of gender mainstreaming events held
  • Percentage budget spent on events
  • Funding models 
  • Number of funding models identified
  • Women owned organizations prioritised as part of Enterprise Development on the BBBEE scorecard
  • Number of funding opportunities secured
  • Percentage allocation of funds to women led projects
  • Advocacy / governance and planning
  • Number of gender mainstreaming plans finalised
  • Ratio of gender equality in management structures
  • Number of policies reviewed for gender considerations
  • Number of coordination initiatives convened


  • Solicit Dialogue on the Impact Indicators as per the Action Plan 2016 – 2021 i.e. to agree on approach to source data as well as roles and responsibilities for implementation and/or reporting (based on the Environment Sector Gender Analysis) for the impact indicators below:


Impact indicators (annual)
  • Percentage budget spent on events from fiscus
  • Rand value of budget secured from corporations
  • Percentage of women appointed in middle management
  • Percentage of programmes and policies with gender focus
  • Percentage implementation of action plan
  • To present the annual targets and
  • Technical Indicator Descriptions/Profiles compiled at the June 2016 National Workshop for all the performance measures to enable the consolidation of progress and impact made
  • Launch and distribute the Strategy by Deputy Minister (DEA), Ms Barbara Thompson, MP.
  • Networking opportunity between stakeholders for sharing of experiences and best practice in the implementation of gender mainstreaming in the environment sector, and exhibition of successful, sustainable environmental projects within which women are either leading or participating.


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Targeted audiences / stakeholders

The environment sector partner stakeholders that have been identified to participate in the conference, and the roles and responsibilities thereof were identified for the implementation of the Sector Gender Strategy as follows:

  • National Government:
    • Develop relevant policies / strategies to address gender mainstreaming in the sector;
    • Capacity building to stakeholders regarding their role in mainstreaming gender in the sector;
    • Coordinating implementation of the strategy (forums /cooperative governance committees);
    • Provide Research and Evidence based Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting;
    • Advocacy and institutionalization of the Strategy;
    • Establish strategic partnerships to advance the goals of the strategy; and
    • Explore funding opportunities and models to support the implementation of the Strategy.
  • Provincial Government:
    • Advocacy and institutionalization of the Strategy;
    • Responsible to create a conducive environment for policy and strategy of implementation;
    • Responsible to establish mechanisms for implementation e.g. enablers;
    • Identify beneficiaries, and coordinate the establishment and running of provincial forums and events;
    • Responsible to co-ordinate all interventions to address gender mainstreaming; and
    • Consolidation data to highlight successes gabs and lessons learnt.
  • Local Government: 
    • Advocacy and institutionalization of the Strategy;
    • Establish implementation and reporting mechanisms for the strategy;
    • Drive implementation of the strategy (cooperative governance forums / committees / councils);
    • Facilitate buy-in of strategy with political leadership within municipalities;
    • Establish partnerships for implementation (e.g. funding opportunities);
    • Develop reports on implementation (aligned to the municipal financial year); and
    • Interface with civil society.

The environment is a cross cutting issue and therefore the achievement of gender equality across the sector will require engagement and input from a variety of stakeholders that are outside the government spheres arena to augment implementation at all spheres:

  • Private sector / business / industry
  • Civil society / general public / organised labour
  • Funding partners / sponsors / exhibitors
  • National Women and Environment Forum members
  • Academia and research nstitutions


Invitation and format of the conference




Plenary sessions will be held in a Panel format to present and discuss progress, the Strategy itself, as well as on the topics selected as the focus of the Conference. Dinner for launch of the strategy.

The second day of the conference will be dedicated to exhibition stands for women in the environment sector.

There will be an opportunity for the audience to raise questions and make comments following each panel discussion.


Related links 


gender startegy      
Environment sector gender strategy and gender mainstreaming
South Africa commemorates 1956 women's march


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