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CCS hosts International Women’s Day seminar

26 Mar, 2015

The Centre for Civil Society (CCS) in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) held a seminar focusing on extractive industries and their impact on communities in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as part of International Women’s Day.

From left: Ms Jacky Kabidu from the Congolese Solidarity Campaign; Mam Khuluse from Ocilwane; Ms Zama Ntuli from Somkhele and Ms Melissa Hansen, a CCS post-doctoral fellow.
From left: Ms Jacky Kabidu from the Congolese Solidarity Campaign; Mam Khuluse from Ocilwane; Ms Zama Ntuli from Somkhele and Ms Melissa Hansen, a CCS post-doctoral fellow.
 
The Centre for Civil Society (CCS) in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) held a seminar focusing on extractive industries and their impact on communities in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as part of International Women’s Day.

Attending the event were women from affected communities such as Fuleni in northern rural KZN, Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape and refugees from the eastern DRC, who spoke out against extractive industries and how they affect people, labelling such acts as ‘resource curses’.

CCS Scholar and founder of Fossil Free KZN, Ms Faith ka-Manzi, pointed out that women were becoming increasingly disgruntled about these industries which she claims wreaks havoc in communities, countries and the African continent at large.

Noting that coal represents the energy and export choice of the future in Southern Africa, Manzi stated: ‘Climate blowback from coal presents a significant threat to the region and the globe. These impacts are felt most intensively by women because of patriarchal role allocations and unequal control over natural resources in families, communities and economies. All too often, rural women work even harder to support their sons, husbands and fathers who toil in mines as migrant workers.

‘Women are the ones who, as usual, pick up the pieces left from a failed democratic state caused by a predatory extractive industry.’

Manzi, with help from Ms Mam Khuluse of the Ocilwane/Fulweni Women Leaders against Mining, detailed how just a few kilometres west, communities in Fuleni were fighting Ibuthu Coal Mine. ‘This company is a mysterious firm linked to BHP Billiton and Glencore – the world’s largest mining house and commodity trader – which aims to mine coal on the southern boundary of the uMfolozi Wilderness Area, the first such proclaimed natural park in Africa. Thousands of local residents in Fuleni will be relocated (for the second time in a generation) to make way for the mine in an area already suffering more than a year of severe drought,’ said Manzi.

She added further that South Africa was well placed to expand renewable energy capacity, public transport and organic agriculture, increasing the creation of decent safe ‘Climate Jobs’  by utilising abundant wind, solar and tidal resources.

Founder of the Durban Congolese Solidarity Campaign, Ms Jacky Kabidu, gave her input on how the DRC is heavily impacted by extractive industries highlighting that due to the mining exploitation, DRC has become a battleground in which education and the educating of women have failed in the country.  This was due to corruption; women and children being raped, assaulted and killed; and children being forced to become child soldiers with sexual violence being used as a weapon of war.

Sharing graphic images depicting violence, Kabidu said: ‘We need to raise awareness about such issues that affect communities. Academics should continue writing and publishing works on extractive industries and the effects they have on people and the climate. We should encourage women advocacy and ensure the restoration of peace in such high conflict zones.’

Documentaries and eco-feminist short films were screened on the day in an effort to raise awareness about climate change.

 The day-long deliberations included various forms of analysis, programmes of actions, solidarity strategies and empowerment tactics.

Words and pictures by Melissa Mungroo

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