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21 August 2023
EMS Women's Month Webinar 4

Historical evidence highlights how women have been socialised into assuming subservient roles across different sectors of society. There is also the notion that their knowledge is often limited by the lack of opportunity in patriarchal settings. Therefore, it is unsurprising that some schools of thought have annexed women's empowerment to culture. Culture- perspective theorists adopt a female empowerment lens that is culture-specific. Consequently, the need to empower women, especially in the entrepreneurship domain, has been reiterated in the literature. A currently topical premise is linked to women’s denial of opportunities based on culture. Could this be why the glass-ceiling effect has become a common topic in economic and management sciences research? Is this the reason that male entrepreneurs are more likely than their female counterparts to pursue entrepreneurship, with growth in mind, or more likely to take risks by investing their monies in the markets. Against this background, the second Webinar attempts to disentangle the equity, diversity, and inclusivity conundrum through engaging in the discourse of gender stereotyping, inclusivity/exclusivity and economic growth opportunities.

Hosts: Prof Moenieba Isaacs and Prof Ruth Hall
Panelists: Maud Sebelebele, Stha Yeni, Zina Jacobs, Ayanda Madlala, Nduduzo Majozi, Siphesihle Mbhele, Constance Mogale and Ashley Fischhoff
16h00 – 16h05: Welcome by Prof Michelle Esau, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, UWC
16h05 – 17h30: Rural Women and Climate Justice. The heat in the European summer is making international headlines, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on 27 July 2023 calling for immediate radical action on climate change, saying Earth has passed from a warming phase into an “era of global boiling”. In Cape Town, we are having one of the coldest winters in more than a decade, with the urban poor finding themselves in a permanent state of crises – food, health, shelter, economy, and climate. Yet very little media attention is given to the climate struggles of rural women.

In this EMS Faculty event for Women’s Month, we focus on how rural women find themselves at the coal face of climate shocks: fires, flooding, drought, heat waves, and rising sea temperatures.

Rural women face more significant threats due to their physical, social, and economic vulnerabilities, and have fewer options for adaptation to climatic shocks than men. Women are increasingly forced to find new ways of producing food; transporting their goods, often easily perishable, to the market; collecting natural resources, food and medicine; and are facing  new risks from wildlife amid fencing of protected areas. They carry a disproportionate burden of the additional labour required to survive in conditions of increased precarity. We focus on how rural women respond to survive and  challenge the climate response at research sites around South Africa - from Mapungubwe in Limpopo to the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal to the Cape Flats and beyond. We point to a contradiction: rural women are at the centre of the climate justice struggles and often the defenders of nature against the threats of extractive industries (minerals, oil, gas) to protect their livelihoods, food, and health - yet the lived realities of rural women are largely absent from policy debates.

In our session, we host eight young UWC researchers in the field across the country to answer the following questions:
  • How do rural women cope with the increasing droughts, floods, heat waves and sea level rises, ensure food for their families, and maintain their livelihoods?
  • What are the climate justice struggles for rural women in land, agriculture, fisheries and in conservation?
  • What does a just transition look like for rural women?
  • What transformative politics need to be in place to strengthen the role of rural women in the climate justice debates?