What a day it was today! I am sure Isabel and Nancy will post more about some of the actions going on, but I am going to focus on an event I went to today related to Gender Day. I went to what I think was the most moving, impactful event I’ve attended across three COPs, which was titled Women for Climate Justice Leading Solutions on the Frontlines of Climate Change. It was a panel of six grassroots and indigenous women leaders from three different continents that are at the forefront of the climate movement. After some powerful opening remarks from the moderator (Osprey Orielle Lake) the conversation was opened to each panelist who shared their person story about why they have engaged in the climate battle. There was so much passion and fortitude in the stories and the whole room was captivated. The prevailing theme was that women have knowledge and power that men don’t have, and that their knowledge and efforts can (and should) be harnessed to help shape policies that can be impactful in addressing climate change. Many of the women talked about how it was not only the western civilization they were battling, but also the men in their own groups whom they needed to work against. Basically, these women have struggled against the patriarchy from all fronts. When they started talking about men, and specifically how men do not take their contribution seriously, I looked around the room to see what other men were present. It was pretty sad, frankly. Less than 10% of the audience was male and I was within the top 3 in terms of age. That made me sad, and angry. I speculate that a lot of men stay away from events like this because they think it is women’s issues and it makes them uncomfortable. Whenever I attend an event where a woman speaks, especially about climate, I am moved. I appreciate that I cannot know what it means to live in her shoes, but I can certainly hope to walk with her and learn from her. I challenge men to walk into a space dominated by women the next time they have the opportunity and sit and listen. Don’t speak, don’t offer your opinion. Listen. Learn.
I cannot hope to recount each of the stories from the women, they were too personal and frankly I was too emotional to take excellent notes. But I can share some of the key take aways/quotes.
We will not get out of this crisis with weak policies. – Nina Gualinga
It is not only a struggle for water and air but it is also a struggle to change the patriarchal and capitalist structure – Ruth Nyambura
Women are the emotional center of the family and community, and we are crushing them with this pressure. – Jackie Patterson
Climate change is amnesia. We’ve forgotten we are part of this world. – Daiara Sampaio
A sacred cycle of life has always been in place. Everything is part of it and is nature. We are not just here defending nature, we are nature. We are here defending ourselves. – Casey Camp Horinek
“All my grand daughters are graduates of MIT: Matriarch in training.” – Casey Camp Horinek