Pretoria - The right to food, health and shelter is threatened due to global warming, International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said on Monday.
"Climate change affects the economic and social rights of countless individuals. This includes their rights to food, health and shelter," she said.
The minister was speaking at a consultative dialogue on Women and Climate Change in Limpopo. She said that as climate change will continue to affect humanity, it was key to safeguard the lives of the people that are adversely affected, which are women.
"As incoming president [of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change], I will strive to ensure the centrality of women in all global fora to advance the multilateral efforts to address climate change, which impacts in a very pernicious manner on women, especially in developing countries," said Nkoana-Mashabane.
Women, she said, are the propellers and carriers of development.
"In flood prone regions, it is women who have to deal with the impact. In drought prone areas, it is women who have to fend for their families ensuring that the children are fed, and that the sick and the indigent are taken care of.
"What we are actually seeing in Somalia are the prolonged consequences of climate change playing themselves out in a context of a country that is torn by civil strife."
Nkoana-Mashabane said women in the developing world were responsible for the bulk of the food production.
"Women will have to labour harder and longer to ensure their families have food, fuel, and water. It is known that in Africa, women do 90% of the work of gathering water and food, and children, in particular girls, often share these responsibilities."
The minister said climate challenges cannot be solved without empowering and educating women.
Meaningful interventions to address climate change were now required and Africa needed to adapt in a way which was conducive to the advancement of the emancipation of its women.
"Adaptation must therefore be central to the Durban outcome, with an urgent need for immediate and adequate support for the implementation of adaptation measures and actions, including through the provision of substantial new and additional public financial resources, environmentally sound technologies and capacity building in a predictable and prompt manner," she explained.
She also added that financing mechanisms must also be flexible enough to reflect women's priorities and needs.
South Africa will host the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Durban in November.
Nkoana-Mashabane also stated that the participation of women in climate change initiatives must be ensured and the role of women's groups and networks strengthened ,as women are currently under-represented in the decision making process of environmental governance.
"What are the most pressing issues for Durban? Most important is the issue of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which is the only multilaterally agreed legal regime that sets concrete emission reduction commitments to mitigate climate change for developed countries."