Cape Town - To mark International Women’s Day, numerous women joined the global non-violent civil disobedience movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR) Cape Town, for a Women’s Climate Strike outside Parliament – one of their various strikes across the country and globe for International Women’s Day.
The strike aims to demonstrate how women were disproportionately affected by the climate crisis and called on government to hear their plea and declare a climate and ecological emergency.
In the crowd, Fight Inequality Alliance member Michelle Bayisai said: “I’m here because when we look at diseases like breast cancer and ovarian cancer that mostly affect women it is caused by the effects of climate change.
“Some of us come from communities that suffer from acid mine drainage where the chemicals left behind from mining affect us and our children over time – so we are here today to take a stand and fervently state that climate change is real and needs to be treated as an emergency.”
XR Cape Town action co-ordinator Cassi Goodman said women suffered disproportionately in every region of the world ruled by patriarchy, sexism and misogyny that seemed to increase when society was in a state of stress or collapse – as was seen during the Covid-19 pandemic with the rise of domestic violence.
“As women and mothers we have to keep our eyes on the state of our world at all times. We need to be thinking about how we will feed our families when the crops start failing, and the supermarket shelves start getting empty.
“Many rural women do not have access to land to grow their own food, and droughts are becoming more frequent and last longer. We are ill-prepared to deal with anything of the magnitude of the climate crisis,” Goodman said.
Project 90 by 2030 climate activist Mthembukazi Bavuma said the role that women played in the climate battle had a huge impact from a grassroots level. This was visible through changes in Parliament from submissions and policies that were being sent out to further advocate for climate justice.
Greenpeace Africa Climate and Energy campaigner Thandile Chinyavanhu said: “We can’t deny the intersectional nature of the climate crisis, where women and girls are on the front line.”
Chinyavanhu said that food and other resource scarcities as well as conflict post-disasters often exposed women and young girls to more incidences of sexual and physical violence.