Women play a vital role in enabling climate resilience in local communities

Promoting gender equality and empowering women is not only an issue of justice and human rights, but also a key strategy for effective climate change mitigation, adaptation, and community resilience. “Women play a crucial role in climate change and resilience and supporting local community development and empowerment,” says Mookho Monnapula, Climate Adaptation Specialist at leading consulting engineering and infrastructure advisory firm Zutari.

zutari Mookho
Mookho Monnapula, Climate Adaptation Specialist, Zutari

In May, Monnapula took part in a panel discussion at the Africa Women Summit  at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town. The main theme was the role of women in sustainable development and how to enhance their skills to make a significant contribution in this space.

“We need to create an inclusive environment for women to drive more climate-resilient solutions. Women represent a powerful force for change because they are often farmers, traders, educators, and leaders in most communities in Africa,” comments Monnapula.

“They are the custodians of indigenous knowledge, provide for their families, and function to contribute to a broader policy framework. However, their role has always largely been ignored, including their status as powerful agents of change.”

Monnapula says leveraging the experience of women at a community level is important to assist with unpredictable climatic events and climate resilience. “We already have women in local communities managing natural resources to mitigate this situation, so the question is how do we bring that information into our climate risk assessments and policies.”

As an engineering consultancy, it is important for Zutari to home in on problem areas. “We work in the context of specific local communities. We bring solutions that are informed by science or engineering, but we also strive to integrate the social dynamics of these communities into our approach. The concept of inclusion is really important, especially as women are perceived as being more vulnerable, yet also extremely powerful.”

Monnapula stresses that concepts like sustainable development and climate resilience have to take the human element into account by co-creating impactful engineered solutions. In her role as a member of the climate change team at Zutari, she examines climate data to ascertain its potential impact on infrastructure projects under development. This includes identifying vulnerabilities in communities due to climate change and leveraging our advisory services to help formulate proactive climate change adaptation policies.

A step in the right direction for South Africa in this regard is to begin to consider climate risk as part of an environmental impact assessment study. “It is such a dynamic and evolving field. There are constant challenges and differences from one project to another. You have to be innovative and come up with solutions that are context specific.

“The ability to impact people through engineering and science is crucial. If you keep on working through communities and engaging with people, and focusing on how your work can bring about a positive impact, that is quite rewarding and keeps me motivated,” concludes Monnapula.

Web: https://www.zutari.com

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