Painting by Jade Leyva Art
In the face of the hottest temperatures ever recorded, the displacement of millions around the world, and the devastating impacts of environmental degradation on the Earth and our diverse communities – the most pressing story that needs to be heard is that of women on the frontlines of climate change.
Women are impacted first and worst by climate change, yet are simultaneously essential actors in local and global solutions. Studies worldwide demonstrate that women must be engaged at all levels of participation, leadership and decision-making to build effective and just social and ecological programs and communities. And yet – the voice and rights of women often continue to be suppressed and ignored. As CNN and Media Matters have reported, only 15% of those interviewed in the media on climate change have been women.
The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN International), working with global leaders across many sectors, has identified the urgent need for a compilation of qualitative evidence, and a readily accessible repository of stories from women on the frontlines of climate change across the world, which can be leveraged to affect policy and socio-ecological changes.
‘Women Speak: Stories, Case Studies And Solutions From The Frontlines Of Climate Change’ is a web-based research database and initiative designed to shift the narrative and challenge dominant systems of exploitation and oppression of women and the Earth, as we collect and share stories by and about women leading struggles and solutions for climate justice under a variety of cross-sectional themes. The goal is to create an accessible and ever-growing source of information, research and multimedia storytelling for frontline Earth defenders, policymakers, journalists, activists, educators, students, and all those seeking to understand and demonstrate why and how women are paramount to just action on climate change, and the defense and protection of the web of life itself.
Our team of WECAN researchers and allies is working continually to collect, categorize, summarize and share articles, interviews, videos, reports and other multimedia materials highlighting the work of cross-sector frontline women, grassroots leaders, policy–makers, sustainability innovators, educators, youth, culture shapers and others who are demonstrating and enacting solutions to diverse aspects of climate change. Included in the database are also pieces authored and produced by women climate leaders on diverse issues; as well as information documenting the many different ways in which women across the world are being impacted first and worst by the climate crisis.
The stories and solutions included in this project are rooted in a climate justice framework, and with a feminist lens, and are meant to provide a vision going forward towards a just transition to a clean energy future, respect for our living Earth, and justice for all peoples. They are presented as a tool for navigation of issues of environmental racism, inequality, colonialism, and dysfunctional economic and political systems that depend on patriarchy, extraction, and endless growth on a finite planet. Through this collection and offering of materials, we seek to highlight on-the ground solutions, strategies and worldviews that uplift women’s leadership with results that can be shared, replicated, upscaled and used for inspiration worldwide.
Select stories presented in this project reach outside of the core women-climate-justice nexus, in recognition of the many deep intersectionalities and complex dynamics impacting women and the Earth around the world. While select stories presented on topics such as women’s work cooperatives, racial justice, and economic/consumer paradigms may not directly mention climate change – we know that, for a just and sustainable future, these issues cannot be separated. In a similar vein, the Rights of Nature category is presented in the recognition that this vital legal framework and worldview must be considered if we are to re-vision and re-build a world that works for women, and for all life on Earth.
The materials shared in the Women Speak database are presented through short, scrollable and searchable summary paragraphs, which have been carefully drafted to allow users of many backgrounds and interests areas to navigate and explore vital information in an accessible and impactful manner. Research and writing for this project has proceeded with the support of a team composed primarily of outstanding women volunteers from countries around the world – from India to Brazil, from Kenya to Canada, the US and many places in between – who have each brought their own voice and experience to the initiative.
While extensive hours of research collection have gone into the compilation of this database – we acknowledge that the stories, struggles and solutions included in the Women Speak initiative represent just a small fraction of the indispensable work being done by women around the world – much of which remains undocumented and unpublished. We have, for example, thus far been unable to find sufficient resources documenting connections between LGBTQI communities and climate issues, despite desires to address nuanced gender identity in our discussions of ‘women’s’ work and experiences.
With this understanding, we present Women Speak as an open, ‘living’ project which will be continually updated and improved.
At this time, Women Speak will be limited to materials available in English, though there are hopes of multi-language capabilities, pending future support.
To the best of our abilities, all stories, case-studies, interviews, videos and documents included in this project are evaluated to meet guidelines including but not limited to –
- Demonstrates the work of individual women leaders, women led organizations, and/or women’s movements for sustainability and/or climate action.
- Explores intersectional themes of women’s resistance and resilience in the context environmental and social justice.
- Includes the framework of women’s rights, Indigenous rights, and/or Rights of Nature.
- Highlights the disproportionate impact of climate change on women, and the need for their involvement in all levels of decision making and action.
- Recognizes differing experiences and issues of injustice amongst women of diverse social, ethnic, political and economic backgrounds.
- Does not include greenwashing or consumption as a climate solution.
- Does not include false solutions or unsustainable techno-fixes.
- Supports solutions that are decentralized, safe, affordable and accessible to all.