On Tuesday 7 November we held Feminist Futures, an evening looking at solutions to the multiple crises that we face, in particular the climate crisis.
The impact of the climate crisis on communities
Farah Kabir, Director of ActionAid Bangladesh, gave a powerful testimony of the impact that climate change has on people living in poverty in Bangladesh. She described how, as far back as 2007, climate change was evident and impacting the most marginalised people. Weather incidents like cyclones, which used to occur every twenty years, now occur every year or so. Likewise, the country is hit by floods, drought and an over-salination of the water supply. As a result, people lack drinking water and can’t grow crops. When families are pushed further into poverty, girls can be forced into child marriage. Farah also described how the communities have been working on some of the solutions to the climate crisis for generations. She described how local farmers worked with nature, using practices such as composting and prioritising soil health.
Why a feminist approach to the climate crisis
Our panel, chaired by Syrian journalist Razan Ibraheem, went on to describe how women in particular are impacted by the climate crisis.
Collette McEntee, Project Coordinator of ‘Feminist Communities for Climate Justice’, a joint project between the National Women’s Council and Community Work Ireland, discussed how women are under-represented in every decision-making space and the impact that this will have on climate change. Jessica Dunne, youth activist and Organiser with Young Friends of the Earth, said that most young people grow up believing that global institutions and those in charge are looking out for their best interests. But that in the face of climate inaction, young people have realised that global institutions aren’t fit for purpose.
The panel also discussed why feminist solutions in particular are important. Farah stated that feminist principles of inclusion and justice are key. She talked about COP and that, while 60% of the negotiations are done by women, it is largely white men at the decision-making table. Collette discussed that when we reduce emissions, we need to reduce inequalities, not increase them. She said that a feminist approach is about tackling the systemic issues that lead to inequality.
Solutions to the climate crisis
Farah said that we need to now plan a pathway to phase out fossil fuels. We also need to invest in communities and listen to young people, women and indigenous groups. Climate change impacts everyone yet it doesn’t affect everyone equally. It is widely recognized that climate change disproportionately affects the most marginalised communities worldwide. She said that this is why we need their voices at the table.
Jessica talked about prioritising the care of people rather than profit. She talked about the urgent need for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty so that fossil fuel phase-out happens. She also emphasised the need to set up a loss and damage fund for communities already facing the impact of the climate crisis. Meanwhile, Collette discussed the need to move away from growth as the only metric of success. She also said we need to move away from individualism and back into a collective, and the need for political will at all levels. In Ireland, she said we need to enact our climate action plan. We need to divest from fossil fuels. And we need to give more power to local authorities and communities and to establish a just transition commission.
The panel closed by discussing the need for action at every level. For individuals to put pressure on the government and for climate action to be made a key issue for the next general election.
Heading image: Razan Ibraheem and Farah Kabir.
Other image: The panel discussion at Feminist Futures