Ou Hongyi, also known as Howey Ou is an 18-year-old activist who is among a small number of youth outwardly fighting for climate justice in China. Writer Heather Chen interviews Ou Hongyi on the courageous work she has done as the first known young person to speak truth to power and demand climate action in her home country. Inspired by her personal connection to nature and animals along with Greta Thunberg and the global youth movement, Ou has protested in her hometown of Guilin for over a year. Since protesting is illegal in China, she has not received the same support youth activists abroad have, but this has not stopped her. Although she was banned from school and has experienced divisions with family members, many of her peers have encouraged her to continue to expand public awareness of the climate crisis and to hold leaders in China accountable. Photo credit: Nicolas Asfouri / AFP, VICE News
This Greenpeace article lists trends impacting the occurrence of both forest and wildland fires today and solutions to those trends. The climate crisis is fueling extreme weather events, including an exceptionally dry winter and record-breaking heat waves which leave more dried up wildland vegetation to kindle the fires. Despite this, the Trump Administration and the logging industry regularly use wildfires as opportunities to make the case for more logging under the guise of fuels reduction and fire prevention. Photo Credit: 2016 Erskine Fire in Central California, © US Forest Service
Mika Mashiko is a 20-year-old climate activist in Japan who started a Fridays for Future initiative in her hometown of Nasu as a response to mass deforestation and corporate exploitation of natural resources. Mashiko has been working with the small group to spread increased awareness about climate issues, gaining greater support since it was founded in September 2019. This ongoing outreach has led to the local Nasu government officially declaring a Climate Emergency. Other youth activists including Yui Tanaka and Yayako Suzuki are demonstrating against the construction of new coal power plants and calling on the Japanese government to commit to greater greenhouse gas reductions. While public demonstrations are still less widely supported in Japan than in other parts of the world, climate activism is becoming more popular among youth and adult allies and increasing public pressure for accountability. Photo credit: Ryusei Takahashi, Japan Times
COVID-19, or the coronavirus, is known to affect the respiratory tract of those infected. But there is new evidence that indicates patients exposed to polluted air are at a higher risk of dying. Additionally, patients with chronic respiratory issues after being exposed to long-term air pollution are less able t fight off the disease. Science tells us that epidemics like this will occur with increasing frequency. So reducing air pollution is basic investment for a healthier future. Photo credit: Jack Taylor/Getty Images
A federal judge recently ruled that Formosa Plastics, a petrochemical company outside Port Lavaca, Texas, can be held liable for violating state and federal water pollution laws. The company could face a penalty of up to $162 million. Thanks to data collected by resident volunteers, the nonprofit San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper brought a lawsuit against the company in 2017. According to the lawsuit, the company violated its environmental permits for years, dumping millions of small plastic pellets - called nurdles - into Lavaca Bay. Among the volunteers is Diane Wilson, a retired shrimper who has been trying to get Formosa to stop dumping in the bay since the early ’90s. Since the trial started, pollution levels haven’t changed, so she keeps gathering evidence with her kayak. Giving up is not an option for her. Photo credit: Wikimedia
Morgan Dixon is the co-founder of ‘GirlTrek’, a national help organization addressing the disproportionate effects of the current health crisis in African American women. Starting with 530 women in their first year, the organization has since grown to about 100,000 African American women who walk together every day. Together the women of ‘GirlTrek’ not only boost their own physical health, they also improve the health of their families and communities while reshaping the narrative around health for women of color. Video Credit: National Sierra Club
Shantel Walker is a manager within the fast food industry and an organizer for proper living wages in NYC. After working over two decades at Papa John’s Pizza where Walker was paid a minimum wage of $7.50, Walker started working with organizations such as the Fight for $15, and Fast Food Forward campaigns to champion the 3.7 million Americans working in Fast Food. Walkers advocacy also addresses the disparities in healthcare coverage, workplace and scheduling policies. Photo Credit: Alex Swerdloff
When Kristen Nicole, founder of Women in Solar Energy, penned an open letter calling out the hyper-masculine and ‘booth babe’ culture that portrayed women as sex objects, it sparked a revolution within the industry to start examining their women-specific policies and initiatives. The solar conference culture perpetuates objectification with abhorrent displays such as women in cages dressed in leather cat outfits. However, numerous programs aimed at addressing gender diversity and increasing women’s participation in the field have grown in response. SEIA’s Women Empowerment Initiative as well as Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy campaigns have contributed to the shift in the awareness around the need for diversity. Whilst more female workers make up the solar industry today, and there are more women speakers at conferences, there are still shortcomings in that women continue to earn less than men and face barriers in climbing up the career ladder. Women of colour are also disproportionately affected, and Erica Mackie, co-founder and CEO of GRID Alternatives, calls for the solar industry to not just be energy-centred but also justice-focussed, and to recognise the intersection between race and gender inequities. GRID’s Women in Solar Program aids women from diverse backgrounds and their She Shines retreat is aimed as a training and team-building exercise for women in the industry. Photo credit: Stefano Paltera, US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon
Monifa Dayo, Carrie Y.T. Kholi, and Binta Ayofemi are three women using food as a vehicle for social change. They are amongst a host of Black women exiting from the restaurant industry after experiencing racism and sexism in the workplace. Monifa Dayo runs her own supper club while consciously incorporating social justice into her business model. Similarly, Carrie Y.T. Kohli’s ‘Hella Black Brunch’ brings people together around food and the African diaspora experience. Binta Ayofemi’s ‘Soul Oakland’ focuses on Black urban sustenance and restoration. Each woman views herown work as a form of resistance to the current political climate, and seeks to inspire communities of color in doing so. Photo credit: Richard Lomibao
A recent study, the first to focus on the effects of short-term exposure to pollution by women in urban areas, has found that air pollution is just as bad as smoking for pregnant women when it comes to increasing their risk of miscarriage. The findings of the study mention that air pollution is already known to harm foetuses by increasing the risk of premature birth and low birth weight. But this recent research found pollution particles in placentas. Rising levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions around the world has increased the risk of losing a pregnancy by 16%. Researchers compare it to how the increased risk of tobacco smoke in a woman’s first trimester can result in pregnancy loss. They recommend the best course of action is to cut the overall levels of pollution in urban areas. While they also recommend pregnant women to avoid exertion on polluted days and consider buying indoor filters, they recognize that in the developing countries, these are luxuries many can’t afford. Photo credit: Rex/Shutterstock
During the month of July, women and men, engaging in a “water walk,” walked two miles through the streets of New York City carrying empty buckets. Two miles is about the length women and girls walk in developing countries each day to obtain water, so this walk was carried out in order to symbolize their hard work. Moreover, the walk ended at the United Nations Building, so it was intended to remind policy makers about the importance of clean water as well as urge them to consider water a human right. The walk also called attention to the fact that access to water is important but if distance, cost, or other factors make that access prohibitive, then simple “access” is not enough. Photo credit: Water Aid
Low to moderate income families and families of color often take on a disproportionate energy burden, sacrificing funds that would otherwise be used on food or medical expenses, to pay for utility bills. Energy companies do little to nothing to help ease this burden. And more time than not, these communities are in areas that are poorly maintained and plagued by pollution. In fact, studies have shown that 71% of African Americans live in counties with federal air violations, compared to 56% of the overall population. 70% of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant, which generated 30% of the U.S. electricity in 2016 and discharged millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the environment. African Americans face the brunt of the health impacts associated with long-time exposure to toxins emitted at plants; children and the elderly are especially sensitive to such risks. These long lasting impacts take many forms, resulting in emotional, psychological and economic costs for these communities. Photo Credit: NAACP
Francesca Chaney is working to alleviate food insecurity and make the wellness movement accessible in her neighbourhood of Bushwick, New York. A dream since she was 19 years old, the café, Sol Sips, started as a pop-up shop and evolved into a permanent fixture in the community. With a popular brunch menu and sliding scale prices, a diverse range of community members visit the spot ranging from indigenous, Latinx, and people of colour to old-timers and families. She serves a community that has largely been left aside by the mainstream health and wellness movement and Sol Sips remains a contrast to the majority of vegan and plant-based restaurants. Chaney wants to counter the trend that to eat healthy is a privilege only for those who can afford it. This socially conscious space that pays mind to the demographic of the neighbourhood is one of a range of businesses fighting to make vegan and healthy food accessible. Photo credit: Sol Sips
A group of women bakers in Los Angeles, California were selected to speak at the panel, “Bread Winners: A Conversation with Women in Bread,” organized by the California Grain Campaign in honor of Women’s History Month. The group of women assembled included baker Kate Pepper, California Grain Campaign Organizer Mai Nguyen, miller Nan Kohler, and baker Roxana Jullapat. The panel focused on the women’s involvement in the California Grain Campaign’s goal to push bakers to use 20 percent whole-grain, California grown-and-milled flours. During the panel Nguyen brought up the historical importance of women in agriculture, specifically in terms of seed conservation. Nguyen also expressed gratitude to cotton breeder Sally Fox, and chemist Monica Spiller, whose seed projects made Sonora Wheat a more familiar food amongst consumers. Photo Credit: Civil Eats
Kanchan Dawn Hunter of Spiral Gardens, Kelly Carlisle, founder of Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project, and Gail Myers, founder of Farms to Grow, are three women of colour who are challenging the dominant image of white, male farmers in the agricultural industry. Females farmers are underrepresented both in terms of ownership but also with respect to the power dynamics in the agricultural system. For them, the act of growing food is intrinsically political, and is a way of empowering marginalized communities to re-establish their food sovereignty and restore their connection with themselves and planet Earth. Spiral Gardens provides free educational programs taught at its community farm and hosts community work days. Acta Non Verba aims to empower young people through urban farming and conducts field trips and farm visits. Farms to Grow supports marginalized farmers around the country who are practicing sustainable agriculture. Other organizations such as MESA and Urban Tilth also work to support a sustainable and equitable food industry. Photo Credit: Andria Lo.
Impunity For Violence Against Women Defenders Of Territory, Common Goods, And Nature In Latin America
This report by Urgent Action Fund of Latin America and the Caribbean (UAF-LAC) analyzes the condition of women who defend environmental rights in Latin American countries. By analyzing the case studies of thirteen women defenders, a clear continuum of structural violence against the women emerges. On the one end, women defenders are subject to the criminalization of their activities and to harassment from various actors such as companies, the police, and the media. At the most extreme end of this violence continuum, women defenders are assassinated or “disappeared.” In cases such as these, the state, if it is not actively colluding with the perpetrators, often remains silent. UAF-LAC, then, calls for the state to protect women defenders by eliminating the impunity perpetrators currently enjoy, by eliminating the criminalization of defenders’ work and by creating a safe environment for them to work in. Specifically, the state must financially, politically, legally and psycho-socially support women defenders. Photo credit: UAF-LAC
At the Bond conference in London on international development, Vandana Shiva is a voice out of the chorus. Anti-“empowerment,” anti-“jobs,” and anti-“formal economy,” she rejects many of the mainstream women advancement narratives. According to her, the biggest challenge is getting to the point where women’s power, knowledge and production are being recognized. This is not possible within the framework of the formal economy because it is defined on the terms of the patriarchy by those in control of nature and society. Women living under principles of autonomy and dignity are called an informal economy, but they are simply living in a different system where the power of men over women is not the organizing principle. Photo credit: Stefano Guidi/Corbis via Getty Image
Puerto Rico is in need of disaster relief that adequately addresses the disproportional impacts Hurricane Irma and Maria have had on Puerto Rican women. Women across the world are already more likely to experience higher rates of sexual violence, familial responsibilities, and restricted access to reproductive healthcare in the aftermath of climate disasters. Puerto Rican women in particular are at very high risk for intimate partner violence in the world without stressors such as natural emergencies. Given these statistics and the causal relationship between poverty and violence toward women, upcoming policies such as the new year budget must support women appropriately. Photo Credit: Mario Tama
Lumago Designs is a social enterprise in Dumaguete City, Philippines that is run by and for women. Established in 2011, the organization allows women living near the city dump in the Candau-ay community to cultivate the skill of upcycling and reusing. Many of the women were once scavengers – sorting through the 80 tons of garbage sent to the dump a day in search of recyclable materials that they could sell. Now, they work to turn trash into beauty. Their jewelry, bags, and household items are sold across the Philippines and in parts of the US and Europe. Women are paid above minimum wage for the pieces they produce while they work from home. For many, being a part of this group and cultivating financial autonomy has been life changing. Photo Credit: Lumago Designs
Women in Detroit, Michigan constitute 53 percent of the population, and 91 percent of all women in the city are women of color. Despite the high numbers, women of color continue to be excluded from decision-making processes when it comes to Detroit’s economic and social development. This report emphasizes the significance of including women of color by profiling 20 women from diverse backgrounds who are committed to empowering a just and sustainable future for Detroit through their work. Among the women profiled is Rev. Roslyn Bouier, who after overcoming domestic violence and drug addiction, managed to establish the largest food pantry in the city. Photo-credit: idreamdetroit.org
Connectedness and equity are two key aspects of how we can change, reverse, avoid and mitigate climate change. Elizabeth Yeampierre, director of Uprose, a grassroots organization in New York, works with the Center for Working Families to build a participatory process for its resilience approach to climate change while maintaining quality and safe jobs. People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) is a community group in Buffalo, New York that fights high energy costs through renewable and alternative energy projects, improving the urban landscape through their 25-square-block Green Development Zone (GDZ). Richmond, California is a historically black neighbourhood fighting toxic pollution and contamination by Chevron refinery. A coalition of local nonprofits including the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment(ACCE), and Richmond Progressive Alliance, Faith-Works organized the community to win local elections and bring about change. Photo credit: PUSH Buffalo
In this article, Dr. Heidi Hartmann and Geanine Wester center the lived experiences of low-income black women impacted by post-Katrina recovery in New Orleans twelve years ago as a lesson for policy planning and development post-Irma and post-Harvey. They outline how women are more likely to live in poverty—especially women of color—and represent more of the elderly population, which make them more vulnerable to climate disasters and gender-based violence both before and after disasters. For the women in public housing prior to Hurricane Katrina, they faced recovery policies that effectively eliminated their homes to make way for mixed-income developments, dispersed and curtailed public services for low-income families, and devastated key community support networks. These stories underline the importance of including women, particularly poor women and women of color, in the process of rebuilding whole communities post-disaster.
Color of Climate: Meet Valencia Gunder, A Power Player In Miami’s Fight Against Climate Gentrification
Valencia Gunder, resident of a working class, predominantly black neighbourhood in Miami, is one of the main activists against the gentrification of another similar neighbourhood: Little Haiti. She works at an organization called New Florida Majority, which aims to empower marginalized segments of society. In this piece, Valencia tells us about how in the past, poor and black communities were pushed far away from the sea, into higher and cheaper grounds. Nowadays, with the sea-level raising, we see the gentrification and forcing out of communities like Little Haiti for richer and higher-end developments. Valencia is an active voice fighting for racial and climate justice, on behalf of those who usually do not get to speak out. Photo credit: Ashley Velez/The Root
Research by the Urban Institute quantifies how poor women in South Asia feel the impacts of climate change. Torrential rain and poor drainage contribute to the proliferation of disease, overwhelming women with more domestic work and sleep deprivation; not only that, but floods prevented women and men from working, leading to economic insecurity, alcoholism and domestic abuse. Climate change affects different aspects of women’s lives: their financial security, their marriage, and their physical well-being. Photo credit: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images.
Is the climate policy of your city genderproof? There is a triangular relationship between climate change, gender and cities. GenderCC launched the Gender into Urban Climate Change Initiative at the 2015 COP21 climate negotiations, with Johannesburg, Makassar, and Delhi meetings held since then to organize and empower women around the links between climate change, gender and cities. Photo credit: gender cc
Community Seeks Justice And Wants Measures To Be Taken Regarding Soil And Water Contamination By Health-Threatening Chemical Elements
Susie Worley-Jenkins and Vickie Pizzion of West Virginia tells us stories about chemical pollution, cancer, and abortions linked to environmental toxins in their communities. Out of 251 members of their community, at least 86 died from or are fighting cancer in the past two years. Many blame it on the PCB contamination dumpsite from Shaffer Equipment Company closeby. The lack of knowledge and warnings regarding PCB’s effects, combined with poor maintenance made it so that water, soil and air was polluted due to erosion and floods, explains Pamela Nixon, a former environmental advocate. Not only that, but this population faces yet another threat to their health through toxic fracking waste disposal, with hazardous volatile compounds contaminating their water. This has prevented residents from using their tap water and has even caused chemical burns, including in children, reports Sandra Keeney. Photo credit: Project Earth
Youth activist Emily Kelsall is at the forefront of the launch of a new program to place warning labels on all gas pumps in the Canadian town of North Vancouver. In collaboration with the climate action group Our Horizon, Kelsall has worked tirelessly to convince her local city council and mayor of the necessity of using this platform to connect with people and showcase the impact of fossil fuel use on climate change and the acceleration of environmental devastation. Photo Credit: Andrea Crossan
Afrodescendant communities in the West are particularly displaced by the negative impacts of climate change in cities. Women of color are on the urban frontlines of these communities. They are leading the struggle through mobilizing their communities and offering strategies to fight urban displacement caused by environmental issues and gentrification. This incredible Afro-Latino Fest in New York City video panel includes women speakers Nyasha Laing, Nasha Paola Holguin, Dr. Kesha Khan Perry, Ana Cristina da Silva Caminha, Zelene Pineda, and Thanu Yakupitiyage in dialogue about the issues at hand. Photo credit: Afro-Latino Fest NYC 2017
Farah Naz is one of five Afghan refugee women who is not only battling traditional gender roles by working, but also becoming an unlikely fighter against plastic waste pollution in New Delhi, India. Through Project Patradya, a business initiative, she is employed to produce and supply edible bowls, cups and cutlery for cafes, restaurants and parlors as an alternative to non-biodegradable plastics utensils. The idea is to also have training in sales and marketing, empowering women to run their own recycling business within three years.
Climate change-induced heatwaves are increasing across India, endangering millions of lives and livelihoods. In response, groups such as the Mahila Housing Trust, are working with women in 100 slums across five cities to experiment with low-cost approaches to cooling homes using reflective paint and other simple methods to reduce the direct impacts being felt by marginalized and impoverished residents. Photo Credit: Mahila Housing Trust, Pixabay
Alice Hinman is the founder of a bee sanctuary and sustainable honey company in Raleigh, North Carolina. A natural beekeeper, she see the decline in pollinator and honeybee population worldwide as an opportunity to tackle a global challenge, to which she is responding by producing honey for Raleigh's network of local restaurants. She is passionate about supporting local food and creating green jobs rooted in sustainability and community. Photo credit: Johnny Gillette
Sheryll Durrant is a leader of the urban farming movement in New York City, which engages with more than 600 community gardens throughout the city with the GreenThumb program. She began volunteering at a community garden in her neighborhood during the financial crisis in 2008 and has since gotten higher education in farming. Through her work at the Sustainable Flatbush garden, Sheryll saw the importance of reaching out to the community to understand their needs, which increased member attendance at events and engagement with the garden. Sheryll also expanded her work to other neighborhoods with high levels of food insecurity or with many refugees, working as a garden manager and a seasonal farm coordinator at the Kelly Street Garden and the International Rescue Committee's New Roots Community Farm, respectively. Margaret Brown (Natural Resources Defense Council) who works on food issues, also reiterates how important these places can be for more access to fresh and quality food, as well as a place for socialization, integration, and nutritious education. Photo credit: Keka Marzagao/Sustainable Flatbush
Ten female urban farmers are changing the urban agriculture movement: Erika Allen carries out multiple food system projects in Chicago, while Natasha Bowens is a writer and advocate for the black farming movement. Kelly Carlisle is the founder of the grassroots NGO Acta Non Verba, which focuses on teaching youth about gardening, businesses and finance. Natalie Clark established the Harvest Blessing Garden in Jacksonville, an urban lot in where she teaches sustainable and urban farming. Gail Myers is an academician with a documentary Rhythms of the Land and a non-profit Farms to Grow, through which she explores food equity and racial relations. Read the article to learn about the work of Jamila Norman, Leah Penniman, Karen Washington, Yonnette Fleming, Lindsey Lunsford and more!
Manju Kumar, manager of Sarvodaya Farms in Los Angeles, believes that today’s problems are rooted in our disconnection with nature. Her permaculture urban farm provides a pathway towards reconnecting with the land through growing food within city limits. For Kumar, farming is also act of women’s resistance because of the autonomy that comes with digging your hands deep into soil. Farming is still extremely male dominated in the United States. Moreover, in Los Angeles, 1 in 10 families suffer from food insecurity or go hungry despite Southern California holding claim to one of the most agriculturally productive territories in the world. Katie Lewis, Zoe Howell, Leigh Adams, Mireya Arizmendi de Haddad, and Lindy Ly are fellow women urban farmers and gardeners who are leading the way in making food more accessible for all. Photo credit: Link TV
In this video, Grist fellow, Vishakha Darbha shares how residents of East Chicago, Indiana are fighting widespread lead contamination in the soil and targeted displacement from public housing. Despite long standing knowledge of unhealthy levels of contamination since 1985 and Superfund designation in 2008, cleanup efforts have been slow and uneven, with some communities being ignored and evicted. Tara Adams is among the 1,000 residents evicted from West Calumet Housing Complex that are being left to fend for limited affordable housing and search for cleaner land and water. The Trump administration is also seeking to cut Superfund program funding by $273 million, leaving many more communities to suffer from historical pollution.
Tilda Shalof is turning 28 years of collected medical waste into sentimental art murals that illustrate the medical care world and patient’s stories. As an Intensive Care Unit nurse at Toronto General Hospital, Shalof has always viewed the plastic caps and waste from syringe coverings and other medical implements as meaningful colorful bits connected to caring for the ill, and never as garbage. Each of the around 100 sterilized pieces she’s been collecting every day have been reused to create a stunning and powerful four-by-nine feet medical art piece made of 10,000 plastic pieces. Photo credit: Steve Russell/Toronto Star
Corrina Gould, a Chochenyo and Kerkin Ohlone woman leader, born and raised in Oakland, California, speaks about the history and work of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, an Indigenous-woman led initiative to reclaim and protect ancestral lands in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. She also speaks about her family's history, and the history of erasure, colonization and forced removal in the Bay. The recorded presentation comes from the second annual “Religion & Ecology Summit” at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). Photo credit: Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion Program.
Paulette Richards, from Liberty City, tells The Root how lately, many neighbours from one of Miami’s previously undervalued and black neighborhood are moving out due to a new type of gentrification: the climate gentrification. With the rise of the sea level, places like Richards’s home, farther from the ocean and higher than coastal areas, are now deemed as good neighborhoods to live. This is what drove Richard to start raising awareness and involvement of her community through different leisure activities revolving around climate change issues and also a summer program called “Climate and Me” targeted at youth members of the community. She is committed to making a change and helping her community face this gentrification, in addition to Marleine Bastien, from Little Haiti, another low-level income predominantly black neighborhood facing climate gentrification in Miami. Bastien is the executive directress of Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami (Haitian Women of Miami), an organization that is focused on poor Haitian women, their families and their needs. Photo credit: Ashley Velez/The Root
Nancy Le is the chair of the Los Angeles Chapter of Inspiring Connections Outdoors (ICO), a club that arranges outdoors experiences for urban youth from underprivileged communities. In her interview, she discusses the challenges of the program such as finding funding for trips, finding volunteer leaders that also come from Black and Latino communities, with whom the main public of these excursions can relate to. Encouraging youth to broaden their horizons through contact with nature is an alternative way of empowering them and hopefully they will continue to participate in the program as leaders. Photo credit: Sierra Club
As people look to California to lead the way on climate action, Rubina Ghazarian and Avital Shavit are doing their part as Los Angeles-based transportation planners. They have been working for years to launch a bike-share system for the large, complex metropolitan area. Bike-share officially launched in 2016 and has already been credited with saving almost 300,000 pounds of CO2. Photo credit: Grist50!
While living in Detroit, Ahmina Maxey successfully implemented a much-needed citywide recycling program. Now working with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives organization, Ahmina focuses on what happens to garbage after it’s picked up. She fights for an incinerator-free future, eliminating the dangerous levels of CO2, arsenic, lead, and other deadly chemicals entering our communities. Photo credit: Grist50!
Tanya Muller Garcia, Environmental Secretary of Mexico City, reports that the capitol is the first major Latin American city to actively pursue increasing the climate leadership of women in politics, as part of the C40 Women4Climate initiative and others. Photo Credit: USE DEFAULT
June Grant is a Jamaican architect in the United States focused on technology and design. She has a technology firm called Blink!Lab, through which she applies new technology and 3-D printers to make prototypes and designs that save energy and deal with waste on many fronts: water, energy, heat, etc. She tells us how small details and the use of topographic and geographic data can make a big difference in saving energy and resources. At the moment, June is working at San Francisco Bay Area, dealing with the rise of the sea level and its dangers to those living to close to the water, and has come up with an innovative wastewater treatment plant that could tackle a lot of the community’s environmental issues. Photo credit: Lori Eanes
What happens when those invested in newborn and maternal health in impoverished urban areas are faced with the reality that more than fifty percent of the world now lives in cities? Massive hurdles occur, especially when trying to translate maternal care from rural methodologies to urban ones, in a scramble to cater to the dramatically increasing migration of mothers into urban areas. The environmental destruction and gender discrimination that are embedded in urbanization are heavily felt by pregnant women and new mothers, whose vulnerability is compounded by climate change.
Waste, pollution, and the rising demand for water by an estimated 5 billion people by 2030 is placing stress on urban water infrastructure, resulting in health and economic impacts particularly felt by urban poor and marginalized communities. Urban centers in developing countries, where women and girls are the primary water resources managers, are already being hit hardest by water stress. Drawing on studies which find that water projects involving women are transparent and equitable, increasing the number of women working in the urban water sector will help solve challenges related to design, distribution, operation, and maintenance of water systems.
Colombia’s highly polluting construction industry is being transformed by an all-women alliance ready to make industrialization sustainable in efforts to help tackle climate change. The Fostering Cleaner Production Initiative invites Colombian women to take on industrial pollution for a greener future. Women within the initiative are being trained to bring pollution prevention to their current positions that deal with water, sewage, and varying construction companies. These women are being credited for the industry transitioning into renewable energies, and lowering waste. Photo credit: UN Climate Change Climate Action
After running for Highland Park’s city council three times, Shamayim Harris decided that she needed an alternative plan to make things better in her city, which has a history of administrative negligence. That’s when the idea of Avalon Village was born: an ecologically sustainable neighborhood that hosts a variety of community services, such as a center for children to eat meals and receive help with homework, all powered by clean energy sources. Photo credit: Zenobia Jeffries
Natalie Flores and Sarah Klein started a garden in an occupied lot that was unused and grew it into a community garden with collaboration from neighbors to start Sunshine Partnerships. They continued and expanded their gardening into other neighborhoods across Los Angeleas, California, inviting the community in, and occupying places and hosting parties that tap into an existing network of urban gardeners. Sunshine Partnerships also collaborates with Transition Mar Vista, a grassroots community groups that has a project called Good Karma Gardens, to foster a network of people helping neighbors to build gardens in their homes. Julie, co-founder of The Learning Garden at Venice High School, is an example of someone positively affected by this project, turning her front yard into a vegetable garden. Photo credit: Ted Soqui
With the rapid growth of urban growth, increasingly impacted by climate change, there is also proving to be a rising rate of gender inequality within cities. This document explains how gender inequality and urban vulnerability to climate are linked. Political decision-making and social and economic power have a deeply rooted gender bias that favors men in urban areas. For this reason, gender equality and women’s empowerment are of principal importance in the post 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.
This online factsheet from the Women’s Environment and Development Organization argues for centering gender in sustainable cities development. Although cities are providing economic growth and wealth, such wealth can replicate patterns of gender discrimination, linked to devastating environmental destruction. Environmental sustainability and climate change are embedded in gender equal approaches that result in more sustainable policy development, urban infrastructure, and transportation which meet the needs of all abilities, races, ages income levels. Photo credit: WEDO
In Indonesia, cities are developing methodologies towards climate change impact resistance and recovery by investing in city-level resiliency efforts. However, although women are most impacted there is insufficient data on women’s perspectives within urban resilience planning. In this assessment report, the Indonesian NGO Kota Kita presents the significance of a gendered approach in urban resiliency projects, how to improve women’s climate vulnerability assessment, and an examination of specific gender centered resiliency initiatives in Indonesia. Three out of four authors of this report are on the ground women researchers and activists. They are Sarah Dougherty, Rizqa Hidayani, and Dati Fatimah. Photo credit: Kota Kita
Over half of the global population lives in urban regions. Ninety-five percent of urban growth is happening in the developing world while the world’s urban population is predicted to increase to 70 percent by 2050. Urbanization is intensifying environmental destruction while simultaneously resulting in gender discrimination. This UN Women Watch report demonstrates the positive socioeconomic outcomes of cities that are designed for environmental sustainability and are also equipping themselves to eliminate urban gender inequalities. Adequate shelter, proper water and sanitation, and policy which tends to the unequal burdens women carry in moments of urban climate crisis are powerful solutions. Photo credit: UN-HABITAT
Kota Kita Foundation, an Indonesian grassroots NGO, analysed its methodology for the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment through a gender-focused approach, as women are the ones who suffer the most from climate hazards and are not well represented in data and resiliency plans. The low levels of female participation and deficient gender-disaggregated data raises questions about cities’ resiliency plans and the lack of consideration of women’s important role in Indonesian society. Photo credit: Kota Kita Foundation
Driven into cities after losing land, farms and crops due to climate change disasters, poor Bangladeshi families, in fear of sexual harassment, bad reputation and loss of honor for the family, marry off their girls at an early age, explains Shahana Siddiqui, a gender specialist at Dhaka’s BRAC University. This short documentary approaches two 14-year-old girls, originally from villages in Jamalpur, whose families had to migrate to the capital after they lost their farms to natural disasters. Watch the film to know more about Brishti and Razia, one already married and divorced and the other trying to postpone her marriage as much as she can, despite her father’s wishes. Photo credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation
Ghanaian women and young people are taking sustainable commuting to the next level by constructing custom made bicycles out of the local material bamboo, grown by local farmers. Ghana Bamboo Bikes woman CEO and founder Bernice Dapaah has met the highest standards of innovating and shaping just, sustainable, new economies. Each bike is 100% recyclable and for every bamboo plant used, another ten are planted. After training and employing 35 locals, including people with disabilities, Dapaah wants to relieve more unemployment by hiring another 50 locals while also growing the localized ecological economy she has created in her community. Photo credit: AP
Harini Nagendra, an ecologist by training and professor of Sustainability at Azim Premji University in Bengaluru, has been studying biodiversity and ecology of different public spaces for the past decade. In her new book, ‘Nature in the City; Bengaluru in the Past, Present and Future’, she takes her readers on an ecological journey of Bengaluru from an agricultural center to ‘concrete-ization’. She writes of the remnants of nature’s hotspots in the city and the deep bond between slum dwellers and nature. The book highlights the works of remarkable individuals and movements that are fighting for the rights of nature and saving Bengaluru from being grasped by the silent killer, ‘concrete-ization’. Photo credit: Harini Nagendra
In New York city, food markets that provide an alternative to commercial produce overwhelmingly cater to white privileged neighborhoods. In turn, low income areas are left with minor accessibility to healthy food. However, women are at the forefront of bringing healthy food markets to New York’s historically low-income neighborhoods. Sonya Simmons has been offering Harlem quality produce for 11 years by running the Grassroots Farmers Market. Martiza Owens helped teen mothers gain access to healthy food in the Bronx in 1993 and then went on to establish two farmer’s markets in the South Bronx. Today she is the executive officer of Harvest Home, bringing quality farmers markets to all five boroughs. Carey King of GrowNYC is also a leader in reinvigorating impoverished Harlem neighborhoods through healthy food. These women are literally partaking in sustaining the health of these communities. Photo credit: Patrick Kolts
In New York City, one young woman lives a zero-waste lifestyle. Lauren Singer has dramatically reduced the waste she produces and is teaching others how to join her in her waste-free way of life. Photo credit: inhabitat.com
By 2030, 60 percent of the global population is expected to live in urban areas. The New Urban Agenda is UN document that drafts a plan to dramatically rethink the way that cities are lived in and constructed today. UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri speaks about the link between urban environmental sustainability and gender equality and an argues that genuine green cities are not possible without a focus on women’s empowerment and equality within urban settlements. Photo credit: UN Women
The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is centralizing the links between urban development, climate change and gender inequality. In partnership with the The United Nations Habitat III and a UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, the organization United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) are pushing for a New Urban Agenda that simultaneously transforms cities into ecologically functioning habitats while putting the inseparable issue of women’s empowerment and rights at the center of this ecological urban vision. Photo credit: The Global Network of Cities, Local and Regional Governments (UCLG)
Women from UN-Habitat, Cities Alliance, the Huairou Commission and UN Women are putting gender on the of top their urban cities and climate change agenda. Deputy Executive Director of UN-Habitat Aisa Kaycira emphasizes the importance of empowering women and girls as the leaders of transformation on the New Urban Agenda, a UN framework which blueprints how cities can be transformed into sustainable urban spaces through women’s empowerment. The New Urban Agenda looks to center grassroots women as the principal agents towards sustainable urbanization. Photo credit: UN Habitat
“Cancer Alley” is an 80 mile strip of land along the Mississippi River where low-income communities of color co-exist with petrochemical plants, hazardous waste incinerators, and landfills. Florence Robinson, a resident of Alsen and a biology professor at Southern University, organized her neighbors in order to dismantle a hazardous waste disposal pit in 1993. She is the recipient of a Heinz Award for her work against environmental racism. Photo credit: heinzawards.net
Sudha Nandagopal oversees Seattle’s Environmental Justice Initiative, a unique program that recognizes environmentalism is typically unequal in the distribution of benefits and burdens of policies. As a means of increasing equality and community-driven solutions, Sudha convenes a working group representing the interests of people of colour, immigrants and refugees, low-income, and limited-English individuals to participate in environmental decision-making. Photo credit: Bill Phillips
As the first woman of color elected to Boston’s city council, Ayanna Pressley founded and chairs the Committee on Healthy Women, Families, and Communities. She has a long-term agenda of creating stronger, more sustainable urban ecosystems. Photo credit: Grist 50!
Women are taking economic and political leadership in Toronto by transporting quality food to low-income neighborhoods through mobile food markets made from reused city buses. FoodShare, a non-profit working with Toronto communities and schools to improve the quality of food for all people, has teamed up with United Way Canada and the city of Toronto to make the project possible. The mobile buses offer a selection of everything from onions to lettuce to apples, and travel to low-income neighborhoods twice a week, transforming the quality food accessibility in the Toronto region. Photo credit: Blackbuisness.org
Baltimore is one of the most polluted cities in the United States, and the neighborhood of Curtis Bay is particularly afflicted by respiratory disease caused by industrial emissions. Upon learning of a proposed trash incinerator in Curtis Bay, Destiny Watford led a four-year campaign to halt the construction of this harmful incinerator next to many of Baltimore’s public schools. Photo credit: Doug Kapustin/The Washington Post
Doria Robinson is the co-founder of the Richmond Food Policy Council and Executive Director of Urban Tilth, a grassroots organization from Richmond, California, that works with growing healthier and just food in a sustainable manner. Through her organization, Doria hires and trains community members to be able to cultivate 5% of their own food supply. She has experience with organic farms, permaculture design, gardening and nutrition, and through her work, advocated for healthier options with salads in every Richmond school, and also campaigned for accountability after the explosion of the Chevron refinery, which ruined the region’s crops. Photo credit: Transition US
Elizabeth Yeampierre is a former civil rights lawyer and dean at Yale, who currently leads an initiative called Uprose and participates in the Working Families Party and a labor unions’ coalition, both local organizations from the industrial waterfront of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York. Their goals are to revive the area, maintain it as a working and active place, make greener, more sustainable and climate-change resilient jobs, products and public spaces locally. Yeampierre has achieved quite a lot with these organizations, but reminds us that now the area is being scoped by big enterprises, who want to build a streetcar line until Astorias, Queens. These top-down projects are not on their best interests or commonly made, opposed to long-term community improvements and claims made by Yeampierre and other grassroots initiatives’ works at the waterfront. Photo credit: David Gonzalez/New York Times
Leah Roberts, 37, sells produce from her farm to local Oregon residents and restaurants, an arrangement that falls under the umbrella of community-supported agriculture (CSA). Just this year, Roberts' Rockwood Urban Farm and about a dozen other CSAs started working with two local nonprofits to offer a new payment system that makes it easier for people of all incomes to purchase a CSA share. Photo credit: Pamplin Media Group, Jonathon House
Like many other Rio de Janeiro residents, Maria Da Penha’s home was demolished by bulldozers to make room for the 2016 Summer Olympic headquarters. De Penha’s home was one of the last to go, and she has been fighting to preserve the history and culture of her community and to keep the government accountable. The government displaced most of the Vila Autodromo residents with cash buyouts or the promise of new apartments, and seized the land with eminent domain. Rather than just an economic concern, de Penha sees this as an attack on fundamental human rights, and says that all citizens need to be respected. Photo Credit: Will Carless
Women like Josefina Requena have been first to respond to Venezuela’s food crisis by starting small-scale urban farms in their own homes, growing fruit and vegetables and keeping chickens to promote food security and community health. Photo credit: John Otia/NPR
The short video shows a little of the routine in a community garden in Cape Town. Mama Christina Kaba is at a leader from this low-income neighborhood, helping women to have another source of income through micro-farming. Photo credit: africanews
Bernice Papadh is the entrepreneur who founded the Ghana Bamboo Bikes initiative, an organization that teaches people how to make reusable and recyclable bikes. Many women are now employed in the production of the bikes and in replanting bamboo. Photo credit: financialjuneteenth.com
Four women are taking leadership on transforming their cities into more sustainable habitats. Ekroop Caur, managing director of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), is improving women’s transport safety so that sustainable commuting can feel safe and thus more desirable. The director of Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Katherine Gajerwski, is also head of the city’s Greenworks program, which links health and happiness through environmental commitments. Tanya Muller is Secretary of the Environment in Mexico City, taking on the impacts of air pollution and urban environmental health through a push towards sustainable transportation via expanding the city’s bus system, propelling investments in bike shares, and restricting the use of private car. A widespread expansion of green roofs is also on her sustainable city to-do list. Then there is the Mayor of Yokohama, Japan Fumiko Hayashi, a child care advocate whose success in eliminating long childcare waiting lists in Japan’s second largest city has removed women’s hurdles of getting back into the workforce post pregnancy. Photo credit: BMTC
Research shows that women are increasingly trading in their desk jobs for urban farming in North America. The new trend departs from rural farming, where notably less women own farm property than men. Only 27 percent of women are rural farmers in Canada, and in the United States it’s less than that. However, today’s urban female farmers are challenging the the North American tradition of women as farmer’s wives, bypassing the gendered property barrier by growing micro-greens in their urban homes. Twenty-nine-year-old Vanessa Hanel’s Calgary based project Micro YYC focuses on basement-farmed greens nourished by grow lights, planted in seed trays and stored on industry shelves. Pea shoots, red cabbage, alfalfa, chervil, mustard greens are just some of the products she harvests and sells at the local urban Calgary Farmer’s Market each week. Photo credit: Imelda Raby
This guidebook published by the Dutch government (GIZ), GenderCC - Women for Climate Justice and UN Habitat explores the theme of gender in urban climate change adaptation and mitigation. It explores the principles of gender-sensitive urban climate policy and advocates for more women’s representation at every level of policy-making.
Dr. Diana is a Ugandan women farmer who has swapped mowing her lawn for growing fruits and vegetables in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala. She also raises chickens and cows in her backyard garden. Dr. Diana is also assisting other local women to start their own urban gardens through training sessions and chicken and seeds grants that start aspiring women urban farmers off on the right foot. Not only does Dr. Diana’s urban farm provide vegetables for the women, but good business and economic independence is also being established for Kampala’s women urban farmers by selling their produce to their surrounding communities. Photo credit: GGTN Africa Youtube
The Vaal Triangle in South Africa comprises several cities and towns that are responsible for some of the world’s highest carbon-emitting industries. Caroline Npaotane is the co-coordinator of the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance. Along with a dedicated group of activists, Caroline is driving efforts to fight polluting industries. Their work has helped to bring in new air quality standards in the area, and has led to the Vaal Triangle being named as a priority area for climate change mitigation by the government. Photo credit: Thys Dullart
Kimberly Leeds, resident of Aliso Viejo, California, is helping to bring community together and increase climate resiliency and sustainability through potluck meals designed to help guest think about the source and impact of their food - and grow a network to garden and exchange produce locally. Photo credit: TransitionUS
Oakland resident Karissa Lewis is a black radical farmer focused on providing people with quality food in the face of rising rents and living costs in the East Bay’s quickly gentrifying landscape. The founder of Full Harvest Urban Farm, and employee at the Center for Third World Organizing, Lewis’s political commitments have included issues of environmental racism, while also engaging in struggles that deal with police brutality. She is a member of the Bay Area Black Lives Matter chapter and the BlackOut collective. Photo credit: Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners Conference
Maria del Rosario Gutierrez used to make money selling scrap metals and plastic waste for reuse. Realizing that many women made a living scavenging for materials to recycle, she founded the Association of Women Recyclers of Altagracia to provide hygiene tips and training. The women have inspired their community with their efforts to recycle waste and keep their island clean. Photo credit: Karin Paladino/IPS
A report published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWRP) reveals the ways black women, especially those in public housing, struggled and suffered because of Hurricane Katrina. After interviewing 184 black women in public housing, the institute came away with five major insights dispelling myths about hurricane recovery. While some black women did find better lives in other cities, most of the black women interviewed wanted to come back to New Orleans. But, the report found, this transition was made very difficult because of poor recovery practices that often exacerbated existing inequalities. The report found that most women did not have enough housing to return to; the new housing situation also brought insecurities and a sense of not belonging to one place; and the vouchers provided aren’t covering their daily needs. Further, the public transportation infrastructure makes it even more difficult to get to work, and social safety nets were disrupted, making black women more vulnerable to various kinds of violence. Among IWRP’s recommendations were: improve communication among service providers, expand tenant vouchers, diversify policies for women and inclusion of low income women, and prioritize the voices of low-income women in planning decisions. Photo Credit: REUTERS/Lee Celano
Situated in the middle of a concrete jungle, La Finca del Sur is a thriving urban farmer cooperative led by Latina and Black women and their allies. Founded in 2009, the organization supports women of color to grow fresh and healthy food. Staff and volunteers are committed to building healthy neighborhoods in this low-income community through economic empowerment, nutritional awareness, food sovereignty, and advocacy for social equality and food justice. Photo credit: WhyHunger.org
Jeanette Origel is a Community Leader Fellow for the Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition (JP NET) and Sarah Byrnes is the Director of the New England New Economy Transition (NET) project at the Institute for Policy Studies. Both leaders write about the importance of thinking about the people in the community when planning concrete ways of improving a place’s resilience - be it through urban farms, renewable energy, or alternative ways of mobility. This is because by improving a community’s resilience, many times the neighborhood improves and then gentrifies, expelling its original inhabitants. Jeanette tells personal stories about her parents fear of prices increases and difficulties in finding products from Latin American countries after local renovations. Food access is only one example of how gentrification can affect a community. This is why Jeannet and Sarah work to bring communities closer together, teaching about climate change and how to adapt, mitigate and be resilient to it. Photo credit: NET
Phyllis Omido, a single mother from Mombasa, Kenya took action to close a local lead smelter after finding out that her child was suffering from lead poisoning from her breast milk. She collected data in the form of local knowledge and hospital visits with patients suffering from lead poisoning, and founded the Center of Justice, Governance and Environmental Action. With proof of the plant’s impacts, Omido organized letter-writing campaigns and street protests, and in 2014 the smelter ceased operations. Throughout the duration of the protests, Omido was arrested and attacked by armed men. Today, Phyllis Omido continues to push for a clean and safe environment for all Kenyans. Photo Credit: Goldman Environmental Prize
In England, women architects are leading innovative and creative design projects to get cities ready for a greener and more sustainable future. Lucy Bullivant, Irena Bauman, Alison Brooks, Alessandra Cianchetta, Liza Fior, Katherine Clarke, and Johanna Gibbons are using the ecological approach of soft planning—an innovative cyclical process that responds to climate change and urban ecological issues by focusing on reducing land waste in cities while preserving urban resources. These women architects pay particular attention to the incredible cultural diversity of London and pair it with the natural sciences to create more green space, sustain resilient urban environments, and construct greener infrastructure including silviculture trees and biophilic design. Photo credit: David Vintiner
In the Indian state of Gujarat, drought is disproportionately affecting female farmers, whose income is dependent on the monsoon. Leelaben Lohana is one of five women members of the women-initiated Bhungroo group. Bhungroo is a climate change resilient water management system that collects and stores rainwater underground. It is liberating women from the imposed debt and vulnerability that comes with drought. Bhungroo is also turning to the agricultural knowledge of Indian women in exchange for land ownership and local governance, protecting women from having to migrate into urban poverty by gaining self sufficiency in their local regions instead. Photo credit: UNFCCC
The Women’s Environmental Network is organizing 15 new urban community gardens in Tower Hamlets, London, together with three local housing associations and support from the Public Health Departments from the City Council. Watch the video to see the testimonials and impressions from benefited residents and photos from the food and plants they grew in these gardens. Photo credit: Women’s Environmental Network
In West Oakland, former Black Panther Elaine Brown is using her tradition of revolutionary action to support ex-prisoners with job opportunities in urban gardening. West Oakland Farms is blooming with a colorful palate of peppers, corn, kale, squash and tomatoes. The inspiring 72-year-old radical envisions a joint project that will offer affordable housing, a fitness center, a juice bar and a grocery store, all run by her NGO, Oakland & the World Enterprises. Brown’s objective is to connect poor Black women and men to autonomously run land based resources that provide economic opportunities in a dramatically gentrifying city. Photo credit: Twilight Greenaway
Kristina Erskine, Iyeshima Harris and Maggie Cheney are part of the growing movement of urban farmers planting and harvesting their produce at the Bushwick Campus Farm in Brooklyn. So are Pam and Esther of Hell’s Kitchen — a rooftop garden, and Jennifer, and Charlotte, and Kennon and Leah of Queens County Farm Museum, and Sarah, and Kate, and Shella, and Chelsea of East New York Farms. According to the New York Times, the approximately 900 food gardens and farms New York harbors are run by a predominantly women run pink-collar labor force. Photo credit: Erin Patrice O’Brien/New York Times
The Women’s Initiative the Gambia (WIG), established by women, is leading the way in reusing, recycling, and upcycling waste. WIG representatives like Isatou Ceesay, aim to combine environmental education with skills to make marketable products, not only from trash, but also traditional crafts such as bead-making. This provides income opportunities to women while addressing the rising environmental issues caused by the increasing waste pollution in Gambia. The generated income is helping participants invest their money back into their families and children’s education. WIG is currently working with four communities by training apprentices and teaching locals the importance of waste separation, recycling of plastics, and environmental conservation.
Nohra Padilla has had a long history of experience with waste picking, as she started the occupation from an early age to help her family. With the pass of years, she became one of the main leaders of waste pickers from Bogotá, growing the Association of Recyclers of Bogotá (ARB) into an organization of more than 3,000 informal recyclers and the National Association of Recyclers in Colombia (ANR), with 12,000 members into strong institutions that revolutionized the infrastructure of waste management nationwide. In 2011, Padilla managed to lead a law that prohibits contracts for waste management that do not offer jobs for informal pickers and had them be recognized as a part of the recycling and waste process in Colombia. Even amongst threats to her well-being, Padilla has achieved great improvements for sustainability and waste management in her country. Photo Credit: Goldman Environmental Prize
Rashida Ali-Campbell is looking to build an Earthship in Philadelphia, a building which serves as an off the grid educational center. Campbell is the leader behind Earth Philly, an initiative that has already successfully constructed an earthship greenhouse in the Philly Emerald Street Urban Farm. Photo credit: Kim Glovas