By Foster Dongozi in Johannesburg, South Africa
Journalists in Southern Africa should report women as powerful agents of change  and providers of solutions  and not portray them  as just  victims of Climate Change,  a senior official with UN WOMEN has said.
Speaking at a workshop of  senior journalists and editors   from Southern Africa, UN WOMEN South Africa Multi Country Office  Deputy Representative, Themba Kalua said: “So, though faced with such a reality, we should not focus on women as victims only but rather look at women as solution providers to Climate Change adaptation and mitigation measures.
“Women and girls are powerful agents of change to scale up climate action and to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy since the burden of Climate Change is often their daily reality.”
Kalua said given the critical role played by women in the face of Climate Change, “Women must therefore be at the centre of building resilience towards Climate Change.”
The phenomenon of Climate Change  is regarded as one of the greatest challenges of our time as it affects our very existence, our livelihoods and the ability to plan effectively  for generations ahead of us.
As the primary energy managers in their homes, women were often at the centre of coping and adaptation mechanisms to Climate Change, said Kalua.
“They choose and transport the food, fuel and water their families  and communities use daily. Often times, women travel long to find  these basic needs, which for many is a daily struggle for survival.”
He said women were disproportionately impacted by natural disasters including Climate Change  related disasters during which there were increased incidents of gender based violence.
“While there is a growing recognition of the disproportionate impact that Climate Change has on women on one hand, there is also the tremendous social, economic, and climate resilient benefits  that gender equality and women’s empowerment can bring, on the other hand.”
Kalua said in order for women to be at the centre of Climate Change adaptation, there was need for a lot of advocacy which included the need to raise awareness and educate citizens including  holding people in power to account.
He said the media, through the Southern Africa Journalists Association, SAJA, were critical partners in raising awareness and educating citizens.
“We are delighted to be part of this  collaboration with Southern Africa Journalists Association for the second year.  I want to express our commitment to continue partnering  with you to ensure  gender responsive  Climate Change reporting.”
The following are some of the expected outcomes of the collaboration.
1.      To strengthen gender sensitive reporting on Climate Change
2.      Ensure journalists have the right information and tools and have the capacity to disseminate  information to various audiences
3.      Ensure accurate  information is easily accessible  to the general public on the science of Climate Change and its impact on women. And that this information is conveyed in a way that is inclusive of different sectors of society-people from varied languages and locations.
4.      Need to highlight the agency of women, in particular, rural women in combating Climate Change. We need to showcase stories of women who are providing innovative  solutions  to Climate Change adaptation.
5.      Need to provide evidence and convince policy makers that investing in women is not just the right thing to do but is smart economics and critical for sustainable development.
6.      The excellent work that rural women’s organisations are doing needs to be documented, as it generates a lot of knowledge, lessons for policy and opportunities to up -scale what works.
 The meeting was convened by UN WOMEN, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women  in partnership with the Southern Africa Journalists Association, SAJA.
Senior journalists, including editors from Malawi, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and Zimbabwe were  among the delegates.
The journalists were drawn from different media sectors which include print, online, radio and television.