Women & girls towards resilience environmental risks

March 8, 2022

Learners of Himalwa Ithete Senior Secondary School planting a tree as part of the School Tree planting competition during Word Environment Day 2021

- Young Women Building a sustainable future

Trees have an enormous social and environmental impact from providing food security to generating income and empowerment and providing other ecosystems services. There is a strong link between gender, social equity, and climate change, and this is in recognition that without gender equality today, a sustainable future and an equal future, remains a pipe dream. 

Women and girls experience the greatest impact of the climate crisis as it amplifies existing gender inequalities and puts women’s lives and livelihoods at risk. Across the world, women depend more on, yet have less access to, natural resources, and often bear a disproportionate responsibility for securing food, water, and fuel.

Though women and girls bear the burden of climate impacts, they are often not leading and driving change in climate adaption, mitigation, and solutions.  Without the inclusion of half of the world's population, it is unlikely that solutions for a sustainable planet and a gender-equal world tomorrow will be realized.

The International Women’s day theme for 2022 which states “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.” challenges us all to not leave out the young generation in taking action but rather involve them from an early stage.

The Executive Director of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism last year on the 7June 2021, together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Namibia Deputy Resident Representative officially launched the NILALEG School Tree planting competition where young girls took an active role in planting trees and committing to tendering them.

The aim of this competition was to educate and raise awareness on restoration and conservation issues through engaging both girls and boys in schools within the five NILALEG Focal Landscapes.

A total number of about fifty schools have so far entered into the competition comprising of both boys and girls. The NILALEG Project is not leaving out the young ones from taking part in ecosystems restoration initiatives.  It is expected that the outcome of this initiative will help the children, especially the girl child, to contribute to environmental conservation and assist in curbing land degradation and mitigating climate change effects through tree planting and revival of indigenous tree species in most of the Namibian Schools in the five focal landscapes.

The Project believes that to curb issues of gender inequalities, education and full involvement of both boys and girls should catch them young. This will help in changing the mindsets of the next generation through a clear understanding that sustainable development is possible when action and efforts are collective between young men and women.

It is hoped that this initiative will not only contribute to food security but also help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals such as SDG #13. The three winning schools will be officially announced in the last year of the project. Winners will be selected based on tree survival rate, innovativeness, team spirit, and the active participation of girls.

It is without a doubt that the efforts which will be made by these learners will help bring about change for a sustainable future.