Delivering the keynote address at the conference on Monday, Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Rejoice Mabudafhasi, said one of the first tasks of the conference was to launch the National Forum for Women and Environment - a forum aimed at preserving the environment for futures generations.
“The primary role for the forum will be to act as the mouthpiece for women, while also championing their empowerment needs within the portfolio of environmental affairs,” she said.
The forum, which was launched at the start of the conference on Sunday, will also serve as the platform for women to inform policy and decision-making issues that affect women.
Mabudafhasi said that the women at the conference, which included a number of delegates from other African countries, would try to define a clear programme of action with the input from national and provincial structures.
The best practice projects related to women and the environment from the various provinces will also be showcased during the conference.
These projects contribute to poverty eradication and it is hoped that the various provinces would learn lessons from the way they were implemented and managed, the deputy minister added.
She said a further objective of the conference was to launch and recommend the terms of reference and the 2010-2012 Action Plan for the African Charter of the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment.
“This conference will focus on enhancing the role of South African women in leveraging economic opportunities from ecosystems services. At the centre of development challenges in South Africa is the emancipation of women, economically, socially and politically,” Mabudafhasi said.
Women bore the brunt of unsustainable livelihoods on a daily basis, through tasks such as ensuring there was sufficient energy for cooking and water for cooking, she added.
“We are also conscious of the fact that women contribute to the economy and to combating poverty through remunerated and unremunerated work at home, in the community and in the workplace. Hence the empowerment of women is a critical factor in the eradication of poverty,” she said.
The deputy minister added that while women contributed to the green economy in certain areas, more work still needed to be done in scaling up their contribution.
The input of the country’s women would help move South Africa towards a resource efficient, low carbon and pro-employment growth path, she said. – BuaNews