Empowering Women, Bridging the Gender Gap in Climate Education: A Catalyst for Climate Justice in Luangwa District

By Kondwani Thindwa - Panos Institute, Zambia

In the Eastern Province of Zambia, Luangwa district is a region emblematic of the interconnected challenges of climate change and gender inequality. As temperatures rise and weather patterns become increasingly erratic, the impacts are felt most acutely by marginalised communities, where women and children often bear the burden of the adverse effects of climate change.

However, amid these challenges, stories of resilience and empowerment are emerging, showcasing the transformative power of climate action rooted in gender equality.


Katondwe Alliance of Women share stories of change related to gender, climate justice and locally led climate initiatives in Katondwe, Luangwa district. Picture credit: Kondwani Thindwa.


In documenting the journey of climate action in Luangwa district, Panos Institute Southern Africa, visited Katondwe Mission, a local Voices for Climate Action implementation site that is spearheading locally-led climate solutions through engagements with the Zambia Alliance of Women (ZAW), a local partner supported by Akina Mama Wa Afrika (AMwA).  Through these learning and sharing engagements with ZAW, it is evident that women are not just victims of environmental degradation but powerful agents of change in their communities. Through a lens of gender and climate justice, their stories reveal the interconnectedness of environmental sustainability and social empowerment.


Panos Institute Southern Africa, joined by the Zambia Institute of Independent Media Alliance and accompanied by journalists from Lusaka, pay a courtesy call on Senior Chief Mbuluma before site visit in Katondwe. Picture Credit: Jajah Coulibaly.



In the face of climate-related agricultural disruptions, women in Katondwe are spearheading efforts to adapt and thrive. From agroforestry to conservation agriculture, the Katondwe Alliance of Women group shares that they are applying these practices to mitigate the effects of climate change and enhance agricultural productivity and food security. By actively involving women in decision-making processes and providing access to land and resources, these initiatives are dismantling traditional gender roles and fostering greater gender equality within the mainly fishing and farming communities.


Samson Chipoka, Katondwe Community Development Officer, facilitates and guides discussions on Gender, climate action and climate Justice during a dialogue meeting in Katondwe. Picture Credit: Kondwani Thindwa.


Armed with resilience and determination, Patricia Soko, a mother and leader in her village, has spearheaded efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change while championing gender equality. Through local initiatives, such as integrated farming of soya beans, cotton and maize, village banking and reafforestation initiative aimed at curbing deforestation, she has protected the environment and uplifted women’s status within her community.

“I used to struggle to provide for my family, especially during the dry seasons when crops would fail. But now, with the training on climate-smart farming practices, we’ve been able to adapt and thrive through crop diversification despite the challenges.” – Patricia Soko.


Patricia Soko shares initiatives and efforts the women under her leadership are spearheading to mitigate the impacts of climate change while championing gender equality. Picture Credit: Kondwani Thindwa.


Patricia’s story is just one of many illustrating the transformative power of integrating gender perspectives into climate action. In Katondwe, women are leading conservation efforts and advocating for policies through dialogue meetings with civic and traditional leaders aimed at prioritising vulnerable communities’ needs.

Indeed, the strides made in Katondwe underscore the importance of amplifying women’s voices in climate decision-making processes. By recognising their unique knowledge and experiences, policymakers can develop more effective climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.



In the realm of conservation, women are emerging as key leaders and advocates for environmental stewardship in Katondwe. Women are at the forefront of efforts to protect and restore fragile ecosystems, from establishing community-led conservation groups to leading reforestation initiatives. Women are leading efforts to promote sustainable agricultural practices such as agroforestry, organic farming, and the use of drought-resistant crops. By diversifying crops and incorporating traditional farming methods, they are mitigating the impacts of climate change on food security.

The women of Katondwe are championing the adoption of clean energy technologies such as clean cookstoves that rely on small twigs for cooking and heating purposes. This clean cookstove initiative is addressing the cutting down of trees for firewood. Mary Banda, a member of the Katondwe Alliance of Women shares that these clay stoves reduce reliance on fossil fuels and improve indoor air quality as compared to cooking on firewood.

These initiatives mitigate climate change’s impacts by sequestering carbon, preserving biodiversity and creating economic opportunities for women through eco-tourism and sustainable natural resource management. By recognising and amplifying women’s voices in conservation, communities are forging a path towards climate justice that prioritizes both environmental sustainability and gender equality.


Katondwe Alliance of Women showcase a clay stove used as an alternative source of clean energy used to mitigate the rampant cutting down of trees. Picture Credit: Kondwani Thindwa.


Mary Banda, a local community farmer and member of the Katondwe Alliance of Women shares that as the world faces an increasingly uncertain future, the stories of change emerging from Katondwe serve as a reminder that gender equality is not just a moral imperative but a prerequisite for sustainable development. Investing in women’s empowerment and advancing climate justice can create a more equitable and resilient world for generations to come.

“We have reduced our tree-cutting activities; through our learning and sharing experiences, we have learned how to make clay stoves. These clay stoves only require small branches from the tree, as opposed to the conventional method of cutting down trees for firewood.” Mary Banda.

Jeff Daka, another local community farmer and member of the Katondwe Alliance of Women, shares that in recent years, the region has experienced erratic weather patterns, prolonged droughts, and flash floods, disrupting ecosystems and altering the behaviour of animals. As a result, elephants, hippos, and other wildlife have encroached upon farmlands and villages near and around the Luangwa River in search of food and water, leading to crop destruction, property damage, and occasional human casualties.

“Faced with these challenges, local communities, conservation organisations, and government agencies can come together to implement innovative climate action strategies aimed at mitigating human-animal conflicts while promoting environmental sustainability.” – Jeff Daka.


Jeff Daka proposes climate action strategies aimed at mitigating human-animal conflicts while promoting environmental sustainability. Picture Credit: Kondwani Thindwa.


The local communities of Katondwe share that degraded landscapes can be restored through community-led reforestation efforts, creating natural barriers that deter wildlife from straying into agricultural areas. Furthermore, climate-resilient farming techniques such as agroforestry and conservation agriculture can be promoted, enabling communities to adapt to changing environmental conditions while reducing their reliance on traditional farming practices that may attract wildlife.



In Luangwa district, Katondwe Mission, the intertwined challenges of climate change and gender inequality are being met with innovative solutions and transformative actions. By empowering women through sustainable agriculture, bridging the gender gap in climate education, and elevating female leadership in conservation efforts, communities are forging a path towards a more just and sustainable future. However, true progress requires collective action and systemic change. As we celebrate these stories of change, let us also commit to amplifying women’s voices, advancing gender equality and social inclusion, and building a more resilient world for future generations.

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