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Deputy Minister Barbara Thomson launches Strategy Toward Gender Mainstreaming in Environment Sector 2016 – 2021

25 August 2016

The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson, has officially launched the Strategy toward Gender Mainstreaming in the Environment Sector 2016 – 2021 at the seventh Women in Environment Conference in Kimberly today 25 August 2016.

This Strategy serves as a tool to enhance compliance with national gender priorities. It aims to provide a framework and strategic direction for gender mainstreaming as well as outlining funding opportunities in the environment sector.

Addressing the two days conference is held under the theme, “Gender Mainstreaming in the Environment Sector,” Deputy MinisterThomson encouraged women in all walks of life, particularly in the environment sector, to be actively involved in various initiatives that promote environmental protection for the benefit of the current and future generations.

The United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) describes gender mainstreaming as “the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated.

“With this strategy, we will ensure that initiatives in the environment sector are designed to support the creation of policies and programmes that strengthen gender mainstreaming. We will ensure gender analyses and mainstreaming during the development and/or implementation of projects to include a gender lens and perspective into the whole project cycle management. This is a strategy to empower women in the environment sector to play meaning full role,” said Deputy Minister Thomson.

The Strategy understands that women remain an integral part of government’s environment programmes and their participation is critical in ensuring inclusiveness in environmental planning and decision-making.

It also argues that women are often at the receiving end of abject poverty due to our historical past that entrenched patriarchal attitudes which excluded women from active participation in the broader economy and it is through this forum that women could emerge as primary beneficiaries of opportunities created in the environment sector.

The Women in Environment Conference brought together various stakeholders in the environment sector, with a specific objective of empowering the women in the sector. It is also a platform for women to renew its commitment to take into account principles of gender equality in employment practices, policies, programmes and service delivery. It is through engagements such as this conference that initiatives to address the imbalances of the past and gender inequality regardless of race, religion, disability, and so forth.

The Conference is also an opportunity for the Environment Sector to renew its commitment to take into account principles of gender equality in 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, and so forth.

It is common knowledge that vulnerability to biodiversity loss, desertification and climate change impacts are deeply connected to gender, and that, conversely, sustainability interventions, responses and solutions need to consider gender issues if they are to fully meet the objectives for which they were established. Because of gender differences in social and economic roles and responsibilities, the effects of climate change affect women and men in different ways.

Emerging policy efforts are recognised on prioritising the needs of women. This is noted in the South African National Climate Change Response White Paper that enshrines as one of its principles the realisation of special needs and circumstances and under this, (rural) women are singled out as being particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change given their traditional caregiving roles.

The Conference takes place during South Africa’s national Women’s Month, which is marked to recognise and celebrate the role women played in the country’s struggle towards the attainment of the democratic freedom.

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