Road to Durban
Climate Change is a threat to the lives and livelihoods of rural communities across southern Africa who feels the brunt of rising temperatures, changing weather patterns and increasing extreme weather incidents. However, rural women who are inextricably tied to their dependence in land, which provides shelter and sustenance, will be locked out of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban, South Africa.
The first Rural Women’s Assembly took place in 2009, under the theme “We are the Guardians of Land, Life and Love”. This event was integral to creating linkages and alliances between rural women active in land rights movements, farm workers unions, peasant and small farmer organisations and movements in the SADC region who are involved in similar struggles for access and control over land, food sovereignty and reproductive rights.
On the 15th October 2011, the International Rural Women’s Day was celebrated across the globe. The assembly held a two-day workshop where women shared their stories about the impacts of climate change, their struggles and real alternatives that they are building on the ground for sustainable agriculture and livelihoods in the face of climate change. The workshop ended with a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa where they handed over a memorandum. One of its aims was to ensure that Rural Women influence the COP17 negotiations in Durban. The Rural Women’s Assembly was co-ordinated by the Rural Women’s Caucus on behalf of 17 land and rural development organisations.
The scene had been set and on the 30th November 2011, 500 rural women descended on Durban to join the civil society space that paralleled the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCC) COP17.
This Rural Women’s Assembly took place at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) from the 1st -5th December 2011 and was joined by sisters from all corners of the globe.