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African women as climate ‘Shapers and Shakers’: a new EJS Center report

Climate change has been defined as the worst catastrophe of our generation. Its repercussions are already affecting millions of people across the planet. Here in Africa, despite having one of the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world, we are highly vulnerable to climate disasters.

With limited access to financial and social safety nets compared to their male counterparts, African women have been disproportionately affected by this crisis. Day in and day out, women and girls in Africa are facing extreme challenges caused by the effects of climate change–yet too often they are left out of the conversation when it comes to addressing the problem.

Women are the harbingers of climate innovation and solutions. As workers and leaders, they are key contributors to the development of their communities. Through their various roles, they help confront the climate crisis with transformative solutions that take into account the needs and realities on the ground. The voices of Africa’s women must, therefore, be heard when climate decisions are made that will affect the future of the continent.

This is why the EJS Center recently published a special report that highlights the women who are changing the rules of the game when it comes to confronting climate change on the continent. This report, entitled ‘Shapers and Shakers on Climate Change,’ complements the latest edition of our annual ‘Shifting the Landscape’ report.

Many leading women’s voices are shaping discussions and shaking up communities in response to the climate emergency. This report is a tribute to them and to the millions of other women and girls whose daily actions are contributing to mitigating and reversing the effects of this overwhelming crisis.

From ‘Shapers’ such as Chad’s Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, who advocates for the inclusion of indigenous peoples in the global fight against climate change, to ‘Shakers’ like Nigeria’s Adenike Oladosu Titilope, who founded a youth-led movement to raise awareness about climate problems in conflict zones, the stories, motivations, achievements, and ambitions of these women are inspiring accounts of the highly influential role they and many others across the continent are playing in tackling the challenge of our lifetime.

According to Faten Aggad, Senior Advisor on Climate Diplomacy and Geopolitics at the African Climate Foundation, climate change is “an African problem” affecting development, trade, and access to energy resources. Its impact on the daily lives of Africans “is tremendous.”

“Women come up with more holistic solutions that take society into account. Given women are being burdened the most by climate change, inclusivity in finding solutions is needed.”

For Eugenia Kargbo, Africa’s first Chief Heat Officer in Sierra Leone, climate action must be inclusive, taking into account women’s ability to bring lasting and holistic solutions.

“Our voices must be heard. If we are most impacted by the issue, we need to be part of the solution. We have seen a lot of women championing climate issues around the world, changing narratives.”

Africa and its women have been at the forefront of not only climate action, but also of biodiversity conservation efforts. In a recent op-ed, our founder former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf lays out how the continent is increasingly calling attention to these environmental issues and leading the charge at international negotiations. She further highlights her and other African leaders’ role in advocating for bold action to preserve the planet’s diverse biodiversity hotspots.

Discover more about African women’s leading contributions to climate action through the voices highlighted in this report here.

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