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“We must uproot the systems destroying our home”
Evelyn Acham is a Climate Activist from Uganda. She is a National Coordinator for the Rise up Movement; an Arctic Angel, Global Choices; and a school striker for Fridays For Future MAPA (Climate Activists from Most Affected People and Areas).
Here is her contribution to the Our World in Your Hands project.
Dear world leaders,
Africa for years has been experiencing the impacts of climate change and these are becoming more and more catastrophic. It has been our past, it is our present and might become our future if we don’t Act Now.
We are suffering from some of the worst impacts caused by the climate crisis such as prolonged droughts, devastating floods, landslides, hurricanes and heavy rains. Lives, homes, business like agriculture — which employs 60% of Africa’s population — have been destroyed. This has left families with no food, water, shelter, school or health facilities. It has left them suffering and in pain of an uncertain future for their children.
It also means more farm work for women who are often responsible for gathering and producing food, collecting water and sourcing fuel for heat and cooking. Sometimes they are forced to walk long distances in search of food and water to feed their families. This exposes them to risks of violence and exploitation including sexual and physical abuse and trafficking when staying in temporary shelters.
In periods of crisis, girls are often the first to drop out of school to help their families make money, do domestic chores or look after their siblings and yet when they are out of school, they are less likely to learn about climate change and how to deal with effects. Girls can be given away for marriage in exchange for wealth. On the other hand, child marriage can be seen as a way to reduce the financial burden of taking care of girls.
But we have the solutions that must be implemented and the implementation must start now. You must start by uprooting the systems that are destroying our home. The climate is changing and it will not wait for the perfect time for leaders to make the right decisions. You must understand the intersectionality of climate change and to achieve climate justice you must consider achieving gender equality, racial justice, social justice, education justice and environmental justice.
This starts by listening to all voices, especially those from the most affected communities like people from global south, women, girls, black and brown people and Indigenous peoples, and including them in decision making rooms. You must recognize that these groups of people are good decision makers and experts. Their integration in these processes leads to successful, long term solutions because they have the knowledge and understanding of what is needed to adapt to changing environmental conditions and come up with practical solutions.
Consider adding climate education in schools, to the school curriculum, as well increasing funding for girls education so that girls and boys have equal opportunities to education. Educating girls is one of the solutions listed by Project Drawdown that can be implemented to tackle the climate crisis.
You must stop supporting, and investing in, all new fossil fuels and the industry itself as this contributes to about 89% of global CO2 emissions. Fossil fuel companies remain huge polluters, they have contributed to the destruction of our planet at a very fast rate. To achieve a 1.5 degrees target, you must put an end to the fossil fuel industry and focus on a just recovery and a just transition to renewable energy.
You must wake up and act now by putting the planet and the people above profit because “MONEY WILL BE USELESS ON A DEAD PLANET”.
We need to recognize the contributions of women as decision makers, stakeholders, educators, and experts across borders and sectors to drive long-term solutions. It’s time we realize women are the missing piece in our global efforts to protect and regenerate our planet, argues Mariah Levin & Gwendoline de Ganay, World Economic Forum.
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“Seen side by side, these two Blue Marbles, taken half a century apart, would bring home the consequences of climate change wordlessly, instantly and globally.” Robert Poole, Professor of History, University of Central Lancashire explains why we need a fresh perspective.
“We cannot afford to leave women out of leadership now that we need to achieve significant systems change”
“We clearly have a different problem, a leadership problem, that is now causing us to not move forward on the rescue of our ecosystems. When analysing the leadership structures of COPs since their inception, it becomes very clear, that the missing element from these conferences have been women.” Bianca Pitt, Co Founder, SHE Changes Climate.