Environment policies 'must have women empowerment at its core'

25 Sep 2013 09:20
WINDHOEK, 25 SEP (NAMPA) - Any policy which is serious about mitigating drought, desertification, and land degradation must have women empowerment at its core, the Deputy Speaker of the National Council, Margaret Mensah-Williams says.
She said this while speaking on Gender Day under the theme ‘Dry-lands Women’s Empowerment’. The day was celebrated during the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) here on Wednesday.
“It is important that we ensure that policy directives transform the lives of the communities it is intended to, in particular with relation to women. It must address how women participate in decision-making structures; benefit from natural environment resources; and opportunities must be created where women share their knowledge base and learn from each other,” she stressed.
Namibia has been on the forefront of addressing desertification and land degradation, and women’s access to financing and markets have been improved through innovative grant mechanisms and small grant programmes. This reduces pressure on the land as there is less reliance on the land, and it also assists in implementing sustainable land management practices. This is crucial for diversification of livelihoods and the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.
Speaking about women's co-operative initiatives, Mensah-Williams noted that it promotes value addition to natural resource products and contributes to the upliftment and empowerment of women in rural areas.
Some of these include Hoodia commercialisation; Kalahari melons, and Marula fruits, amongst others.
“I would like to also use this opportunity to pledge my support for any gender activity that Namibia would want to take forward as an outcome of COP 11. I trust that the outcome of this Gender Day will culminate in an outcome that will focus on women’s empowerment and which will hopefully be incorporated into the Windhoek Initiative or Namibia Outcome, in whichever way,” she added.
The conference ends on Friday.