Left Out in the Cold While the Planet Heats Up: How Can Feminists Contribute to Climate Change and Energy Debates and Policy in South Africa Today?

Citation:

Annecke, Wendy, Yvette Abrahams, and Nthabiseng Mohlakoana. 2010. “Left Out in the Cold While the Planet Heats Up: How Can Feminists Contribute to Climate Change and Energy Debates and Policy in South Africa Today?” Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity 24 (83): 36–45.

Authors: Wendy Annecke, Yvette Abrahams, Nthabiseng Mohlakoana

Abstract:

The issue of climate change is one of the most critical issues confronting feminism today. Since energy use and in particular burning fossil fuels is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases and global warming, feminist input to determine what sources of energy South Africa should develop for the future is fundamental to the debate.
 
To facilitate feminist responses, a workshop was held by the Gender and Energy Network South Africa in collaboration with the Commission for Gender Equality on 18–19 May 2010 to examine some of the new State initiatives to formulate relevant policy. Policies concerned are the Draft National Climate Change Policy, the Renewable Energy policy and the Integrated Resource Plan II.
 
Interestingly enough, the most critical problems to emerge from this workshop were not issues around the substance of the policies (although there are plenty of those), but how to relate to a State that is deaf to its constituencies, and how to deal with the lack of women's voices in constructing guidelines which are going to determine not only our national energy production for the next 20 years, but also the welfare of our planet itself. It is clear that the State is currently preparing these policies with substantial input from male-dominated sectors such as mining, engineering and Eskom (the State-owned enterprise which generates approximately 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and approximately 45% of the electricity used in Africa), but very little from women. Poor women are even further removed from the policy processes that middle-class women are struggling to be part of. The aim of this Focus is to present the deliberations of this workshop and follow-up activities in broadening the impact of feminist activism.

Keywords: gender, climate change, governance and participation

Topics: Class, Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Governance, Infrastructure, Energy, Political Participation Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2010

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