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  • Writer's pictureMeredith Haberfield

Women and Climate Activism

We must take charge in transforming the narrative of climate change. There are many women across the globe working to create a better, safer, and healthier future for all of us. Of course, one woman in particular that comes to everyone’s mind when climate activism is mentioned is Greta Thunberg. However, alongside Greta, there are thousands of girls and women using their voices to speak up against climate change, demanding leaders to implement more eco-friendly resources and sustainable practices.

Women around the world are disproportionately affected by climate change. In low and middle income countries, women hold traditional roles as primary caregivers and main providers of food and fuel. This makes the role of a woman more susceptible to displacement by climate change. If women in rural areas were given the same freedoms and training as their male counterparts, the future of climate change and food security would not be as daunting. In fact, “in some countries, women are not allowed to own land or access credit- even though they may be doing most or all the labor on a family farm.” (Source) Allowing women to have the same opportunities and resources as men is part of the solution to an overwhelming problem.

Women from various countries have proven this to be true, as they have made incredible changes in their communities to help fight poverty, climate change, and grow sustainability. Agung Widi is the founder of the Kalimajari Foundation, which has had a major impact on revitalizing the Kerta Samaya Samaniya cocoa coop in Jembrana, Bali. Workers there now have a higher quality of life and are working the land in ways that will be able to be sustained for years to come. Janet Bato, a tea farmer in Thyolo, Malawi, stated that “women in my community are such hard workers, and we produce all the cash crops––working long hours in the field while tending to our children. Women do all the work, yet it’s the men who call the shots and control the resources.” Once Bato began working with Greenpop, an organization dedicated to restoring forests, this changed. She was so enthusiastic about restoring the landscape that it led to her being chosen as the manager of natural resources in her community. She now plans for tree nurseries to grow in her village so her children can live in a rich village with restored forests and natural resources.

Christina Figueres, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, and Jane Goodall are other women who have spearheaded change for climate activism. Christina Figueres headed a climate change non-profit for eight years, then became the leader of the UNFCCC, which is responsible for international climate change negotiations. She was also instrumental in successfully steering world leaders to reach the Paris Agreement in 2015. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim is a leader in activism in indigenous communities in Chad. She works to bridge the gap “between the international decisions [on climate change] with the reality on the ground. I want to tell people what it is like in my country.” During the Paris agreements, she lobbied for indigenous people to have their rights recognized in the agreement. Jane Goodall is an English primatologist and anthropologist who works to protect chimpanzees and the environment at large. She has opened people’s eyes to how species conservation plays into the needs of the local people and environment and urges people to take action in protecting all living things and the planet.

Climate activists have made headway in fighting the climate crisis, but there is much work to be done. Women in climate activism are an inspiration to all, especially young girls who look up to them and see powerful women involved in science and government who can see how they have a platform and use it to change the world for the better. To learn more about women in climate activism and what you can do, check out the links below!

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