To celebrate International Women’s Day, ICS alumni Hope Carpenter attended the Women of the World Festival in London to hear from Ireland’s first female President and global climate activist, Mary Robinson. After attending panel discussions and debates focused on climate change, Hope shares how young people can get involved in the fight to save our planet.
My ICS experience inspired me to tackle climate change
I first witnessed the direct impacts of the global climate crisis while volunteering with ICS in Tigray, Ethiopia.
My team worked on a local livelihoods project, supporting women and children who endured FGM (female genital mutilation), GBV (gender-based violence), early marriage and other harmful traditional practices. We worked with them to support business skills training and raised awareness of women’s rights including sexual and reproductive health rights.
I quickly learned that most of the women in Tigray are farmers whose livelihoods will be at risk if things don’t change.
The experience really inspired me to pursue a career in International Development. After returning from placement, I knew I had to combine my passions of achieving gender equality and tackling climate change. I'm now studying a Masters in Environment, Politics and Development.
As active citizens we must act now before it’s too late
News headlines suggest we have less than 10 years to turn things around before dangerous ‘’tipping points’’ are reached and irreversible damage is caused. Communities in the global south are already facing the impact of climate change. The event introduced me to two major climate injustices which young people can use their voices to help tackle.
1. The communities that are the least to blame will be the most affected
I learned that communities in the global south will be most at risk of climate change. Many communities are already facing drought, crops are failing and livelihoods are at risk. But they are not to blame. Individuals in some of the most marginalised communities across the globe have already adapted their livelihoods to ensure they are more sustainable.
2. Women are most at risk
Women in the global south are more likely to lack access to land, resources and opportunities. Men often leave communities to find work in the city, leaving women at home to support their families. When the climate and environment change, women's livelihoods are more at risk.
It's time to act
Partly inspired by youth activist Greta Thunberg, young people are now making their voices heard and are leading the change. As active citizens we must continue to get involved in campaigns, lobby governments and use our voices protect our planet.
We can all make small changes in our daily lives to support those most vulnerable to the immediate effects of the climate crisis.
Use your voice to influence change
As young people, we are responsible for taking back our futures and influencing the change we want to see. To get started, sign up to the Women’s Connected Declaration on Climate Change to support women across the globe tackle climate change.
After Mary’s event, I quickly realised that being an environmentalist is not just about supporting one cause, it is about campaigning against margianalisation wherever it exists. The event also taught me how the ICS community can get involved to speak louder as a collective and have a wider impact.
I was lucky enough to grab Mary to sign her book after the session. Inspirationally, she writes, “Be a Prisoner of Hope on climate justice!”