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Gender in Focus: Mozambique University Lecturer Speaks

23.10.2022 | All Africa News

Gender In Focus: Mozambican climate scientist says women’s contribution to climate change adaptation and mitigation in Africa is indispensable


Every March, the African Development Bank puts Gender In Focus, with a look at our work impacting women across Africa and beyond. We asked 28-year-old Mozambican Iracema Mamadu Hussein, who through a Bank-funded scholarship is pursuing her PhD in the climate change field at the University of Aveiro in Portugal, about the role of women in climate change adaptation, mitigation and response.

Q: This year's International Women's Day’s theme was "gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow." What are the challenges of climate change in Africa and how do you think you can contribute to providing solutions to those challenges?

images.jpgHussein: One of the main challenges of climate change in Africa is increasingly intense and successive extreme events like cyclones, floods and droughts. There are also changes in weather variables, such as rising temperatures and changes in precipitation, and rising sea levels.

All of this has a direct impact on human life and well-being, and on the economies of countries. Climate change affects climate-sensitive sectors, such as agriculture, livestock, water resources, human health, infrastructure and the ecosystem.

I believe that a lot is being done to respond to Africa’s climate change challenges. In my opinion, we need to improve and seek functional strategies and policies to face climate change according to the reality of our continent.

As a professor and researcher at an academy, I believe it is important to create alliances between academies, decision-makers, and society in general, to support the creation and improvement - as well as the implementation of such strategies and policies. These strategies should provide for mitigation and adaptation to climate change in a manner applicable to Africa’s reality. This way, we would also be responding to the [United Nations] Sustainable Development Goals related to poverty, hunger, climate action and partnerships.

Q: Why have you chosen to study climate change when many young people go for what some may consider more "traditional" careers such as medicine, engineering, law, etc?

Hussein: Studying climate change is as challenging for me as studying other areas. My interest in climate science is based on understanding this phenomenon globally and particularly in Africa - given the continent's susceptibility to extreme weather events.

Q: Tell us a little more about the Bank-sponsored programme that brought you from Mozambique to Portugal to study climate change. How do you intend to apply your experience and studies here for the benefit of Africa?

Hussein: The programme [Mozambique-Unilúrio-Support to Skills Development for Agriculture and Industry Project], funded by the African Development Bank, encourages the inclusion of women in science by giving me the opportunity to attend the course in Biology & Ecology of Global Change in one of Portugal’s best institutions of higher education. The programme covers three years of tuition expenses, housing, food, and return airfare from Portugal. At the conclusion of my studies, I intend to create a local network that connects the university,  fishing and farming communities and society at large, in order to work on awareness and behaviour change about global climate change.

Q: You also teach at Unilúrio University in Nampula, mozambique - when you look at your students, are women still a rarity in this science-related field? What advice would you give to younger women and girls who consider careers related to adaptation or sustainability to climate change?

Hussein: At the educational institution where I work, I gradually noticed the interest of women in studying climate change. Environmental education and population awareness are fundamental to changing behaviour and human action in the face of climate change. As African women, we can, with existing resources, make our contribution to climate change adaptation in Africa. To younger women and girls considering careers related to adaptation or sustainability to climate change, my advice is that they [should] believe more in themselves. They should believe in their potential and the crucial importance of getting involved - and in the indispensable contribution of women in the adaptation of climate change adaptation and mitigation in Africa.




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