A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
“I’m inspired to call for other young people to act on climate change as we know for a fact that we will be the ones directly affected in the near future If it’s hard to plant and grow crops now, what about the next few decades? - Langing.
Langing is a youth leader in Mindanao, the Philippines – a country too often devastated by extreme weather, especially in recent years. For her, climate change is something personal: her school life stopped when the family’s harvest failed because of drought as they couldn’t afford her school fees. This in turn also led to the family being barely able to feed themselves as they had no homegrown food or income. But instead of lamenting this, Langing chose to become a climate change activist.
As you read this now, climate change may feel like a distant threat. But there’s one area of our lives where its impact is inescapable as we all need it to survive: food. What we eat today, our children will not be able to eat in the all too close future.
But women give us our best chance of producing enough good food in a quickly warming world. They make up 43% of the agricultural workforce in developing countries and play a vital role in food production and preparation around the globe. They have a wealth of knowledge about seeds, crops, water and land management. But the imbalanced responsibility of them putting food on their own family tables, as well as producing much of the world’s sustenance, is getting tougher all the time because of increasingly unpredictable weather.
Food is a prevailing reason why women are leading the fight against climate change.
And it’s not just in developing countries where the climate impact is felt. Liz had her farm, among many others’, under water for almost two months due to ruinous flooding in the UK in 2013.
“We have to accept that the climate has changed. We’re getting wetter, warmer winters. We’re getting extreme weather that we’ve never got before. I think everybody needs to realize that we can’t just ignore this.”
Since 2013, Liz has been battling to protect her community from flooding.
Meanwhile in arid sub-Saharan Africa, climate change is putting more stress on farmers. Rainfall in Zimbabwe has already declined by up to 15% in the last century.
Ipaishe is part of an irrigation project run by women in her community. They are working together to grow crops despite this decreasing rainfall, while using their experience to campaign for climate change adaptation techniques across the country so farmers can grow enough food to feed themselves - whatever the weather.
See more of these community efforts from Zimbabwe in the video below.
Bolivian Rosario is one of the leaders of a community-based company supported by Oxfam known as APARAB. It produces cacao native to the Amazon. The community is also reforesting native species and sustainably exploiting woods and fruits. However, extreme and uncontrolled floods have hit the area with devastating results.
“I feel sad because although we didn’t really contribute to climate change, we are the ones suffering... I speak as a farmer, but we all need to get together to pressure the people in power.”
This is just a snapshot of the huge contribution women across the world are making in the battle against climate change – an issue that impacts everyone, regardless of gender identity.
2015 is the year when turning point decisions will be made about climate change, decisions that will affect us all. In December, political leaders will meet in Paris to agree a new deal on climate change for the world. They have the power to agree to stop polluting and to start repairing the damage that’s already been done. But the burning question is: will they?
Thousands of people are already standing up to government and big business about climate change. Those with the power and influence to write effective rules must do so before it is too late. Otherwise the poorest families will continue being unjustly torn apart by climate change, while the rest of us are dragged into the adverse effects of climate change. And of the world’s poor, it is women and girls who bear the brunt.
In Rosario’s words: “If you want something, you can get it – it’s just about the power inside you to go and do things. So my message to people would be ‘let’s get organized, let’s get together, let’s talk and move forward towards the same point.”
Across our beautiful vulnerable planet women like Langing, Liz, Ipaishe and Rosario are leading the fight against climate change in inspiring and doable ways. Join them.
Watch these women in action here:
What you can do now