Women lead and promote the fight against climate change

The women’s leadership around the world has made the fight against the effects of climate change has gained strength. This is supported by hard work not only in their communities but increasingly from international organizations or summits.

Figures like that of the Swedish Greta thunberg, the Kenyan Elizabeth Wathuti, the Costa Rican and architect of the Paris Agreement, Christiana Figueres; o the current executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on the Climate change, the Mexican Patricia Espinosa, have become benchmarks in this world battle in which women are, at the same time, the most affected.

Behind them are many other women leading green transformation projects in various countries such as Chile, Peru or Costa Rica, writing reports on the situation of ecosystems in danger that are analyzed in high-level meetings or protecting territories from the exercise of the defense of human and nature rights.

“There are many leaders trying to propose solutions to one of the great challenges that we are going to have as humanity in the coming years. But let us remember that it has been 30 years since many women began to work on these issues in a comprehensive way,” says the specialist from gender, environment and climate change from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Latin America, Andrea Quesada.

The specialist, in statements to EFE, names Gro Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, the creator of the term “sustainable development“in 1987; to the Kenyan Wangari Maathai, the first African to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for “her contribution to sustainable development and democracy”, and to the indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, assassinated in 2016 for her fight for human rights and the environment in Honduras.

“Many of these new leaders are in the branches of the trees that these transformative women planted at the time and the most interesting thing is that the diversity of voices is maintained,” adds Quesada.

The strength of indigenous leaders

The indigenous Waorani Nemonte Nenquimo is one of those new leaders. She remembers that her love for nature and her struggle to keep her territory “safe” began at a very young age.

“We live from the jungle, fishing, hunting and the land. Our Amazon is full of diversity, life, and that is why we respect it. But the western world does not understand it, for them it is pure green area” The Ecuadorian woman who has led a campaign to prevent oil companies from settling in her community, located in the Amazon province of Pastaza, tells Efe.

Raising her voice led her to win the 2020 Goldman Environmental Prize, considered the “Nobel” for the environment. “I am a Waorani woman and I feel collectively. That recognition is for the thousands of women in the world who are defending life, the territory, the Amazon. Those women are inside me and thanks to that I can stand up.”

“This life is not easy, but that recognition made me feel strong and inspired to continue building a future with all these women who are protesting,” says the activist, who adds that together with other women she works in a food security project so that more people depend on the fruits that these lands bear.

Although she has been to several international summits, Nenquimo is very critical of the agreements that are made in these and admits that, although she was invited to COP26, it was not because “she did not want to return with nothing.”

“There are many forums and organizations that talk about green funds, but they do not invest all that money. They only give us a minimum percentage and the rest for them (sic). Better that those leaders come to know what we defend, that they fight with us” , reiterates.

More and more women

Like Nenquimo, Alexandra Narváez, Leader of the Cofán community of Sinangoe, he works every day so that mining companies do not enter his territory, located in the Ecuadorian Amazon. She is a guardian of the community, a position that has historically been held by men.

“I was the first who asked to join the group of guards to make tours and take care of the territory. At first it was very hard, I received a lot of criticism, but I had the support of my family,” she recalls in conversation with the EFE Agency.

Now she is the president of the women’s association and others from her community have joined her to continue with the task. “Now there are women and girls who say they want to lead and take care of their territory. I think I am leaving a seed for the future,” he says.

Narváez says that the effects of climate change are being felt more and more every day. “The river overflows, we cannot go to collect the fruits to make handicrafts or eat. We cannot allow this to be destroyed, this is something that not only affects us as indigenous people, but affects the whole world.”

From the UNDP, says Andrea Quesada, they are building bridges between the needs of indigenous and rural women and governments, with the aim of developing projects that not only contribute to the sustainability of life in the territory but also to the empowerment of more women than They can go out on the public stage to defend nature.

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Women lead and promote the fight against climate change

Hank Gilbert