28 November 2012
South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana- Mashabane ended her tenure as UN climate change president by launching “Thuto ya Batho” or “Teachings from my People – Women adapt to climate change” on Gender Day in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday.
The book, a presidency legacy project, pays tribute to ordinary women who are on the frontline and face the daily reality of climate change on the ground.
It has been described as a book of hope that is inspired by the contributions of women from across the continent of Africa who came together during a continental consultative dialogue on the eve of COP 17, which culminated in the adoption of a declaration.
The declaration consisted of a set of recommendations and strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change on women.
‘The face of climate realities’
“Women are the face of the climate realities, while we as negotiators and political leaders are discussing, sometimes with questionable urgency, to find a global response that could address their plight,” Nkoana-Mashabane said at Tuesday’s launch.
Nkoana-Mashabane, a member of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice’s (MRFCJ) Troika+ of Women Leaders on Gender and Climate Change – played a key role in the successful stewardship of COP 17 in Durban last year.
Although her term as president has ended, she said her responsibility as a member of a Party to the Convention and Kyoto Protocol, as a citizen of the world and, as a woman had not ended.
“The journey towards climate freedom is long and arduous and we have many more obstacles to overcome.”
She said that Africans and South Africans have been taught through the context of Ubuntu that each of us has a responsibility to ensure the stability of current and future generations.
“Central to this aspiration are women,” she said.
Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and COP18 President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, who is also the first male Conference of the Parties president, praised Nkoana- Mashabane for her efforts during her tenure.
Putting solutions forward
“She played an important role, not only for herself, but for women around the world,” he said. He said the world needed to solve climate issues before it was too late.
Christina Figueres, the new head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), confirmed that Gender Day was established in honour of Nkoana-Mashabane to coincide with the launch of the book.
“This is another legacy for Minister Nkoana-Mashabane,” she said.
Figueres described the book as inspirational. “The book shows how women from around the world are not waiting for policy decisions. They are just doing what needs to be done by putting solutions forward,” she said.
MRFCJ President, Mary Robinson, who wrote the foreword for the publication, said climate change efforts needed to be more people centred. “Women all over the world are already taking action and making alternative plans to deal with climate change,” she said.
Robinson said she hoped that the incoming president and future presidents would continue to improve women participation, and that Gender Day would be observed at each UNFCCC to track progress on gender equality.
“Significant gains have already been made to include women participation in UNFCCC activities,” she said.
Nkoana-Mashabane said she hoped that the COP18 president would spread the word of the plight of the millions of people that are affected by climate change. “I am inspired by the courage and leadership of these women and am honoured to be able to tell their stories,” she said.