March 8th 2022 is International Women’s Day, and this year the main focus is #BreakTheBias, ending discrimination against women. International Women’s Day is a day of protest and activism promoting women’s rights, but is also a celebration of women’s achievements.
To mark the event, we’re looking at some inspirational female climate activists who have dedicated their lives to help fight against climate change.
Over the past four years, Greta Thunberg has become a household name and is possibly one of the most influential climate activists from recent years. At only 15 years old, she started the school strikes for climate by sitting outside the Swedish parliament building every day during school hours for three weeks. This gradually grew as she was joined by more and more people, encouraging students from around the world to strike on Fridays.
“The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.”– taken from her Davos speech, as quoted in The Guardian.
Christiana Figueres is the daughter of Costa Rican President Jose Figueres Ferrer, and she’s a Costa Rican diplomat. She was appointed Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCC) from 2010-2016. Throughout her varied career, she has worked in roles related to climate change, sustainable development, green energy and sustainable land usage. She has received a number of recognitions, honours and awards including the 2019 Dan David Prize for combatting climate change. Figueres has also written a book about tackling the climate crisis, called The Future We Choose, which shows us how we can all help to prevent further devastating changes to the climate.
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim
People in the Southern Hemisphere are more likely to be negatively affected by climate change, despite not producing as many emissions, than those in the Northern Hemisphere. Activists such as Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim advocate for the inclusion of indigenous peoples in international climate change discussions and agreements, as many indigenous peoples are directly involved in preserving their traditional lands and protecting biodiversity.
Ibrahim comes from Chad, which is seeing the effects of climate change first-hand, as Lake Chad has lost around 90% of its surface area over the past 40 years. This is having devastating consequences for the more than 40 million people who rely on the water from the lake.
“Every culture has a science. So it’s really important for the indigenous voice to be there.”BBC’s 100 Women
Ibrahim has worked with UNESCO and the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee to create a 3D map of the Sahel desert region in Chad which will help to sustainably manage the environment.
Sunita Narain is an Indian environmentalist and political activist who studies the relationship between sustainable development and the environment. As director general of the research institute for the Centre for Science and Environment, she exposed brands such as Coca Cola and Pepsi for having high levels of pesticides in their drinks. She was named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2016, as well as receiving numerous other accolades and awards.
“The fact that due to the climate crisis, people are losing their homes and their lives, every moment makes me question the basic principles of justice and drives me to do everything I can.”– Go For Climate
Despite only being 23 years old, Yugratna Srivastava has been working towards climate justice on an international level for the past 12 years. She was the youngest person to speak before the UN at the age of 13 and demanded immediate action in response to the climate crisis.
Srivastava has also served on the global youth board for Plant-for-the-Planet, an organisation which has planted around 14 billion trees globally.
Yamide Dagnet is the Director for Climate Justice at the Open Society Foundation and has more than 18 years of experience working in environmental awareness, including being the UK policy lead and negotiator for the UNFCC. She was recognised by the Ecologist as one of the 25 most influential women climate leaders of 2019 for her climate negotiation work. She began her career in chemical engineering, working with BASF, one of the biggest chemical companies in Brazil, where she began a project with local communities to restore unused land.
Why tackling the climate crisis is a gender equality issue
Women and girls around the world are disproportionately affected by climate change. In many countries, they are often responsible for gathering resources like water and fuel, which have become scarcer due to the climate crisis.
At COP26, only two out of the UK’s 12 leaders were women, with many other countries following a similar pattern. Despite this, various countries set out gender equality action plans as part of COP26’s ‘gender day’, including the UK vowing to put £165 million of funding into addressing gender inequality and climate change.
Organisations such as She Changes Climate are working to make sure all climate negotiations are gender balanced and diverse at the top levels. They held a panel event at COP26, and Good Energy was a supporting partner. Our Founder, Juliet Davenport, was also a signatory to their open letter to the UK government calling for male/female parity among the UK’s COP26 leadership team, which kickstarted the campaign.
To coincide with International Women’s Day 2022, She Changes Climate are releasing a short documentary looking at the work of female climate activists. The short film, also titled She Changes Climate, features a range of activists including Joycelyn Longdon, founder of Climate in Colour, who has previously written a guest blog for us.
You can watch the film on Waterbear Network, which is a streaming service for documentaries focused on supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
# International Women’s Day