A Feminist Analysis of Climate Change

In Africa, climate change is one of the major factors that curb access to education, particularly for girls and women. This is mainly because girls are expected to fetch water and/ or firewood during natural disasters such as floods and drought in rural areas, forcing them to miss or drop out of school. Moreover, school closure due to natural disasters usually has an equivalent impact on both sexes. That being said, most interventions aimed at alleviating these problems have their own shortcomings as they fail to consider the realities of marginalized groups. In the city, where the government takes more hands-on action to tackle climate change, some green policies have had an unintended negative impact on girls’ education. To this end, this article will explore the connection between climate change/ green policies, grassroots movements, and girls’ education. 

Women’s Voices at the Grassroots: Green Policies, Green Infrastructure  

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, interventions aimed at making the city green so as to reduce carbon emission involve tearing down some neighborhoods to construct mid-city parks/ gardens. Families whose lives are uprooted into entirely new neighborhoods now need a certain amount of time to adjust their livelihoods, during which time their wellbeing as well as their children’s education will be least prioritized. 

Addis Powerhouse (APH) is a young women-led feminist knowledge production platfrom that generates gender-data to create women’s rights awareness in the community and collaborates with grassroots movements to do so. One of their grassroots partners, Yitawek Timret, is facing grave danger as their neighborhood is one of the areas planned to be torn down in the coming year. As a community-led initiative established to support one another (consisting of economically disadvantaged women in poor neighborhoods), Yitawek Timret members have struggled to sustain themselves through natural disasters, COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing war. However, once their neighborhood gets demolished, none of them actually believe they can preserve the movement for their own and their members sake. 

The negative impact of government-led climate change interventions also extends to barring girls’ education and the capacity of grassroot women’s movements to help women in their communities. In situations like this, women’s rights are further eroded and girls’/ women’s movements effectively silenced. As the grassroots members from Yitawek Timret contemplate the move, and whether or not they would be assigned a safe neighborhood, they have already accepted their bitter farewell to the future of the movement they have worked so hard to establish and grow. 

Girls’ Education in Combating Climate Change

The disproportional impact of climate change on girls’ education is matched by the multitude of benefits to educating girls and women in order to alleviate the impacts of climate change. Research done on climate change shows that women leave smaller carbon footprints than men, have greater interest in protecting the environment, and are better leaders during times of crisis (including climate change). All of this evidence shows how investing in girls’ and women’s education can help us tackle climate change. As girls and women are more likely to commit to protecting the environment, encouraging them to join science and technology fields of study would also pay off by allowing them to innovate a sustainable future. 

Knowledge development is a weapon to explore scientific, technological, and engineering innovations that will lessen the effect and speed of climate change, as well as to discover the means to resist and cope with natural disasters. Equipping African girls and women with relevant and transferable skills in these education fields is also key to supporting climate change resilience efforts in local communities. With ever rising unemployment and escalating poverty in the continent, providing girls with communication, teamwork, leadership and entrepreneurship skills will unlock a powerful resource for sustainable development by combating inequity and inequality across communities in the African continent. 

Ensuring access to girls’ and women’s education could also improve their chances of becoming climate change advocates/ leaders, with a capacity to be meaningfully represented in decision-making spaces where they are better positioned to influence climate policies. The African saying “educating a woman is educating a community” also shows how investing in girls’ education has a multiplier effect as they are more likely to teach others. To this end, young women-led and grassroots movements like APH are working to open up leadership spaces for the youth and amplify their voices, while working to uplift female leaders and climate change advocates through all their platforms.

Sources: 

Jamie L. Gloor, Eugenia Bajet Mestre, Corinne Post, and Winfried Ruigrok. 2022. “We Can’t Fight Climate Change Without Fighting for Gender Equity”, Published in Harvard Business Review. 

Bosena Yirga Ayele, Tebarek Lika Megento, Kumelachew Yeshitela Habetemariam. 2021. “Governance of green infrastructure planning in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia”. 

“Building the Resilience of African Women to Climate Change Girls’ and Women’s Education”. 2022. African Union International Centre for Girls’ and Women’s Education in Africa

Contributor: Hanna lemma, Founder and Director of Addis Powerhouse

Mental Health and Gender

There is a stigma associated with mental health illness in our community, to an extent where the topic is tabooed from discussion. This mental health awareness gap is made worse by the limited accessibility of mental healthcare services in Ethiopia, and a gender-data gap when it comes to planning an intervention. We will discuss this and more in our July Issue.

Female Creatives and Feminist Art

Over the years, a lot of social factors including wars, industrialization and feminist thoughts/ movements have contributed to the shift in culture that resulted in women being more of active creators rather than passive subjects of art. In this month’s edition, APH sits down with a young Ethiopian woman creative/ artist whose work mostly revolves around womanhood and feminism.

Women In Business

Female-owned and female-led businesses are becoming more commonplace,
but still only account for a small fraction of businesses worldwide. As the numbers
indicate, women continue to be among an underserved part of the community in
technology and entrepreneurial development in Ethiopia and across the world. To this end, Addis Powerhouse covers the topic of “Women in Business”
in our March Issue.

Female Role Models

Women of different age groups, from a variety of races, backgrounds and walks of life who are more than qualified to be considered role models are usually pushed to the side and their achievements either undermined or painted negatively by the very society that they value and work for. In our January Issue of Addis Powerhouse, we commemorate this women and discuss other topics.

Female role models

In this Issue of Addis Powerhouse, we discuss female role models – who they are, what they do, and how they are often portrayed in history. This is our tribute to the heroines who raised us, educated us, and saw in us a life they had once envisioned for themselves – had it not been for a system that determined their fate. Enjoy your reading.

Women Economic Empowerment

Economic empowerment is crucial in ensuring women are not abused by the power dynamic created between the two genders. In our 14th Issue, Addis Powerhouse invites you to delve into the topic of women’s empowerment, particular in the informal sector. In an interview conducted with a prominent grassroots women’s rights and empowerment advocate, we aim to have you note the challenges and progress in Ethiopian women’s empowerment.

Women living with disabilities

This month, we are talking about the challenges faced by women living with disabilities. We question the inclusiveness of our feminism. We learn from the women’s rights organization that has worked on women living with disabilities and HIV. We listen to the story of an incredible woman who has made it her mission to mainstream the rights of women living with disabilities despite her own challenges. This June, discover how you can ensure inclusion in the fight for all women within our Powerhouse.

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