Women and youth taking up the mantle to demand gender equality and social accountability amidst climate change.

In the quest for gender equality and social justice, it is imperative to acknowledge the intertwined relationship between climate change and gender disparities.

Women and youths, especially those in vulnerable communities, often bear the brunt of climate change impacts while simultaneously having fewer resources and opportunities to adapt. Recognising this, the Women’s Life Wellness Foundation (WLWF), a local partner under the Voices for Just Climate Action programme in Zambia, has taken up the mantle to empower women farmers and youths in Lukolongo and Shimabala wards in Chilanga district on adaptation methods amidst climate change.

During a town hall meeting, WLWF Executive Director Natasha Sakala interacted with Lukolongo and Shimabala’s local communities. Photo credit: Chama Chabasungu


WLWF is implementing an initiative to equip women farmers and youths with knowledge and skills to assist them in engaging with policymakers, civic and traditional leaders. The initiative, supported by Akina Mama Wa Afrika (AMwA), supports efforts to hold duty bearers accountable and ensure the promotion of gender equality and social accountability around issues of the Constituency Development Funds (CDF).

Given the right skills and knowledge, women now have the opportunity to take up the mantle and begin to demand for gender equality and social justice amidst climate change. - Natasha Sakala

With an initial target of 300 smallholder farmers in Lukolongo and Shimabala wards, Natasha shares that the initiative has expanded to more than 350 local smallholder farmers and is anticipated to reach out to over 400 rural farmers.

During a town hall meeting organised by WLWF in Lukolongo ward, Panos Institute Southern Africa visited the local community to get an understanding of how WLWF is creating platforms for the communities to hold their duty bearers accountable as they fight the marginalisation of women and youths.

Local communities of Lukolongo and Shimabala wards interacting and engaging with the local community leaders of Chilanga district and civic leaders from Kafue Town Council. Photo credit: Kondwani Thindwa


The Women’s Life Wellness Foundation (WLWF) is leading the charge to combat the marginalisation of women and youths in climate finance and social delivery. Their approach revolves around fostering community engagement and ensuring that duty-bearers are held accountable, particularly concerning the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), by empowering local communities to demand transparency, equity, and inclusivity in the allocation of resources.

The men don’t want us to own our land. They feel intimidated with our resilience and resourcefulness. With our interactions, learning and sharing experience with WLWF, we, the women, are being equipped with the knowledge and skills on how to approach and hold our duty bearers responsible for land through such platforms as this town hall meeting. - Falecy Simwembela

WLWF understands that addressing the marginalisation of women and youth in the context of climate finance and social accountability requires a multi-dimensional approach. They acknowledge that gender inequality is intricately linked with economic disparities, climate vulnerability, and social injustice. Therefore, the initiative strives to address these issues holistically, recognising the intersectionality of these challenges.

Men from Lukolongo and Shimabala join in the learning and sharing experience during a town hall meeting to drive a holistic discussion, recognising the intersectionality of gender inequality – Photo credit: Chama Chabasungu

A core element of WLWF’s approach is community empowerment. Working closely with the House of Ruth Foundation (HoRF), a local partner under the VCA with support from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the two local partners are engaging with the local communities to build climate change awareness, capacity, and resilience. WLWF is jointly collaborating with HoRF to organise climate mitigation and adaptation workshops, training sessions, and community dialogues to educate women and youth on their rights and the importance of climate action. Through these initiatives, they are empowering the local communities to demand accountability from duty-bearers.

During a town hall meeting, the House of Ruth Foundation Director Mirriam Chitalu interacted with Lukolongo and Shimabala’s local communities. Photo credit: Kondwani Thindwa

Working with the local communities, WLWF actively engages in advocacy and awareness campaigns to influence policy change. They are collaborating with local leaders, government officials, and other stakeholders to highlight the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and youth. Their efforts have led to discussions on inclusive climate finance mechanisms and social accountability measures that consider these groups’ specific needs and vulnerabilities.

Kafue District Commissioner Morris Hikapulwe interacts with and engages the local communities of Lukolongo and Shimabala wards during a town hall meeting on Constituency Development Funds. Photo credit Miyoba Hankuba

There have been notable successes in Chilanga and Kafue District in recent years. More women and youths are participating in decision-making processes related to climate action and resource allocation. Local initiatives for sustainable agriculture and natural resource management have gained traction, benefiting both the environment and the community’s livelihoods.

Falecy Simwembela shares with Panos about local initiatives, sustainable agriculture, and natural resource management during a town hall meeting in Lukolongo ward. Photo credit: Chama Chabasungu
Before VCA conducted the training on climate change, we faced so many challenges in growing our crops and maintaining the soils which affected our families because we could not produce enough food to sustain our families and improve on our daily needs. - Falecy Simwembela

Speaking during a town hall meeting in Lukolongo ward, Mrs  Mary Dimba, a local women’s mobilisation coordinator, highlighted vital gender disparities regarding the criteria governing resource allocation of Constituency Development Funds (CDF). Through such platforms organised and facilitated by WLWF and HoRF, the women and youths are holding their duty holders accountable, and actively engaging with policymakers on adaptation strategies around climate finance.

Local smallholder farmer speaks on gender disparities regarding the criteria governing resource allocation of Constituency Development Funds (CDF). Photo Credit: Chama Chabasungu
I am a woman! All those issues around CDF, such as clinics, access to clean and safe drinking water and schools, are centred around women. We are the most affected by climate change. We wish to get an understanding of the procedures governing the acquisition of funds for adaptation through such town hall meetings now that you, the civic leaders, are here. - Mary Dimba

Falecy Simwembela shares that she is happy because most of the women in her community have embarked on identifying lasting solutions that will enable them to improve agriculture activities and even support their children in school despite the impact of climate change.

The women are now practising crop integration, which is now encouraging them to have more food, unlike in the previous years they depended much on growing maize, which requires a lot of water for it to grow. Through this initiative, the communities are now encouraging community members not to cut down trees. - Falecy Simwembela
Chimpwenupwenu cooperative member shares with Panos how they are interacting and engaging with WLWF and HoRF on practising conversation farming and using organic-based fertiliser. Photo Credit: Kondwani Thindwa


Through these initiatives and locally led solutions, the women and youths of Lukolongo and Shimabala wards are now leading the charge in addressing complex issues like climate change, gender inequality, and social injustice. WLWF is making tangible progress toward a more equitable and sustainable future in Kafue and Chilanga districts by empowering communities to hold duty bearers accountable. Their approach is building capacity to co-create locally led grassroots efforts around advocacy and awareness to create a more inclusive world for all.

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VCA is set to effect the amplification of locally-shaped climate action and play a pivotal role in the global climate debate. For more information about the program, our agenda and how to collaborate with us, please contact us via info@voicesforclimateaction.org.

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