UK High Commissioner to Malawi Holly Tett says the Women’ Caucus of Parliament can help in the implementation of Climate Change and energy programs to salvage their effects especially on women and girls.
Several studies show that women are the most hit by the effects of climate change and in countries like Malawi where the social-economic profile is on the low, the impacts are more severe.
Tett was speaking on the sidelines of female Parliamentarians retreat supported by OXFAM and Christian Aid among others.
She said the rate at which the country’s natural resources are being degraded including forests remains worrisome mostly and now that this has been happening for years.
Tett called on all Women legislators to utilise their influence in Parliament to push for policy reforms in the environment sector but as well as engage their communities on behavioural change.
She said: “ Women play a critical role at the heart of what’s going on. Some of the environmental challenges have a close link with energy and I think there needs to be a lot of policy thinking on how the energy sector can be developed so that people don’t have to draw down on natural resources in order to sustain themselves ”.
However, to deal with the challenges, Tett suggests the need to take a holistic approach since the struggle for women is caught in a web of other social barriers.
“There are unfortunately huge challenges facing women in Malawi not just to pollution factors but of course due to access to health facilities, access to family planning facilities, issues of domestic violence, access to education, access to financing all this can impact on woman’s ability to fulfil her potential and if she cant fulfil her potential, the country can’t fulfil its potential either,” said Tett.
On what the UK is doing to help Malawi and in particular, the women to mitigate and adapt to climate change, British High Commissioner pointed out forestry initiative as mitigation support while promising more in future.
“This is obviously a huge priority not just in Malawi but across the globe, in-fact UK will host the COP 26 negotiations in Glasgow at the end of this year where all the countries will meet o discuss how the world can tackle the critical issue of climate change. I hope that through our programs we will be able to support the women’s voice both in Parliament and outside among civil society organisations so that we can really hear about the issues that are affecting them and how they think they can be tackled and take that through Malawi into the COP 26 negotiations,” said Tett.
Global Program Coordinator for a Christian led Breaking Barriers Project being implemented in Malawi, Honduras and Ethiopia Innocent Hauya said the women legislators should help advocate for the operationalisation of the National Action Plan on Women Economic Empowerment which the the government established and push for the set up of the Women Economic Empowerment Fund.
During the meeting, the female legislators perpetually asked the NGO’s to support them with various programs in their constituencies and Hauya thinks once the Women Economic Empowerment Fund put in place the burden on the members of parliament will be less as more women will have access to resources that can enable them to start various businesses including Sustainable Energy Enterprises.
Hauya added that energy issues can draw the the attention of key stakeholders if all women parliamentarians joined forces to amplify women’s’ voices on sustainable energy and profitable engagement in the energy sector.
“We are in Mangochi, Karonga and Chikwawa where we have helped women set up mini rice processing factories installed solar driers and juice processing machines which are making a difference and these are the kinds of programs that we need to have in most constituencies and only through such interventions that we build the resilience of most of the women to the effects of climate change.“ commented Hauya.
During the the meeting, the meeting the Speaker of Parliament Gotani Hara urged women to rise above politics and unite in seeking solutions to real matters affecting their people on the ground.