Deputy Minister Ms Barbara Thomson interacts with women and delivers a key note during the 8th Women in Environment Imbizo in Newcastle, Kwa-Zulu Natal

24 August 2017


The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson interacted with women at the 8th annual Women in Environment Conferencein Newcastle, Kwa-Zulu Natal as part of Women’s month celebrations.The celebrations were convened under the theme, “PLEDGE FOR PARITY’’.

During the 2013/14 financial year, the Department of Environmental Affairs developed a strategy for Gender Mainstreaming in the Environment Sector 2016 - 2021, the first such sector strategy in the country, in order to comply with national gender priorities. The Women in Environment Conference brings together various stakeholders in the environment sector, with a specific objective of women empowerment. ). The outcomes and resolutions of the Conference were presentation of the key concepts and principles of the Strategy Toward Gender Mainstreaming in the Environment Sector and Action Plan 2016 – 2021 to all relevant stakeholders; Launch of the Strategy toward Gender Mainstreaming in the Environment Sector and Action Plan 2016 – 2021’and Presentation of Draft Sector Gender Strategy Action Plan for 2017/ 2018 Show casing and exhibition of projects and initiatives.

This year’s motivation for the venue is that KwaZulu-Natal is a model in terms of functional institutional arrangements in all spheres of government including the NGO’s in the Province. The Province also has a history of championing the empowerment of women in the Province through various initiatives including involvement of traditional leadership and it is envisaged that promoting such a model will be a beacon to trigger rural development as one of the key government priorities. The benefits of this proposed venue is that it will provide the sector with rare mileage in cooperative governance in line with Chapter 3 of the National Environmental Management Act 108 of 1998 (NEMA).

The event  is also an opportunity for the gaps analysis conducted through a focused interview with the Chief in the area attending one of the local Women in Environment Fora, indicates that the community is in need of environmental empowerment services to ensure that they harness environmental goods and services sustainably.

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.

Speaking at the event Deputy Minister highlighted the fact that, women who make up the majority of the developing world’s more than a billion poor, generally have lower incomes, less access to credit and decision making authority, and limited control over resources, increasing their vulnerability to many climate impact.

‘”I want to appreciate that other women from different political backgrounds are also saw the reason to come be with us here today. This is one sector that we hope will bring us together as women, I always say that they should be certain things that bring us together regardless of race, age etc. because they all affect us.”

“A key outcome of this 8th conference must be to assess the distance we have traversed in implementing these commitments .Where are we in terms of the achievement of these strategic objectives, where have we fell short and what corrective actions are needed to accelerate their achievement in areas where we fell short”, said Deputy Minister Thomson.

Deputy Minister Thomson was joined by delegates from KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

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