On September 29, Lauren Lavitt and Sara Olsson attended the Women Speak: Climate Justice on the Road to Paris and Beyond, a conference at the Church Center of the United Nations, a stone throw away from where global leaders were meeting to discuss climate change. The conference was organized by WECAN (Women's Climate Action Agenda), a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainability through women’s empowerment.
Leaders from countries around the world attended that evening to speak out against socially and environmentally destructive activities and policies. 14 women leaders presented their work and told of the climate change impacts they have experienced in their home countries. They also wanted to present a diversity of strategy and visions they are working with to shape a equitable and healthy world, and which is why the event was only one of the many ”Call for a Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action” convenings took place on the 29th.
One of the speakers that left a lasting impression on us was Neha Misra from Solar Sister in Africa. She talked about her organization's vision to bring opportunity for everyone, everywhere by their work and that girls, women and their communities should have access to sustainable energy to create both thriving lives and livelihoods. Solar Sister works to eradicate energy poverty by empowering women through economic opportunity, and works to enable clean energy technology to even the most remote communities in Africa. However, Solar Sister also recognizes and highlights the unfortunate fact that, even if every home in Africa was powered with clean energy, it would not stop the practice of multinational corporations working hard to extract Africa’s fossil fuels.
Another major topic discussed at the conference was growing concern of refugees, a situation exacerbated by the burdens of climate change and war. And to those who claim that people are leaving their homeland merely because ‘the West’ offers better economic opportunities or things probably aren't 'that bad', this quote from a conference speaker should prove helpful: ”no women are putting their children in boats unless the water is safer than land”.
It was an inspiring conference with many knowledgeable, engaged women gathering to exchange experiences. You can read more about the conference and WECAN here: http://wecaninternational.org/pages/wecan-nyc-september-2015
And, as part of WECAN’s commitment to honoring Mother Earth, it organized a tree planting at the East River State Park, where 10 new river birches and 2 new hackberries will be growing reminders that climate action doesn’t mean having to change the world, but it does mean getting your hands a little dirty.