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Hopes and Dreams Shattered by Climate Change

By filmmaker and women's rights activist Salma Zulfiqar

Northampton, MA --News Direct-- Global Citizen

"There is no clean drinking water where I live in Balouchistan because of climate change," Maria, a Refugee in Pakistan said. "The pollution is making us sick, I'm coughing and getting ill from it," Hadiqa, another Refugee in India explained.

8 in 10 people displaced by climate change are women. Women and children are 14 times more likely to die in a natural disaster (UN Women). Even as a hardened humanitarian artist who has worked in conflict countries, working on The Migration Blanket climate change film project over the past year has been an eye-opening experience.

The dozens of young marginalised and refugee women from 15 plus nations that I met for my online ARTconnects workshops had very little knowledge of the impact that climate change is having on their lives and our planet. I found this shocking. How can we protect our planet if large proportions of people living on mother earth don’t have enough knowledge on climate change?

They don’t know how it’s affecting us all and don’t know why it’s having an impact on their livelihoods, plunging them into deep poverty, adding to the numbers of girls getting married off because their parents can’t afford them anymore and contributing to hunger, violence, and displacement.

Ultimately turning the inequality gap into a big black hole. “Yes, more girls are getting married, this is happening in our village in Afghanistan because of the weather. We didn't have good crops over the past few years, but I didn’t know it was due to climate change,’’ said one participant during the workshop. “Lots of girls are getting married at the age of 10 or 12 because the parents can’t afford them,” said another in Tanzania. “We have flooding all the time and it’s destroyed the land and farming so they don’t have an income to pay for the girls' education’’. Climate change is having a massive knock-on effect that many poor communities around the world are unaware of.

While researchers continue to work on strengthening links between gender inequality and the climate crisis, we know that the high-risk climate change countries are also those with high rates of child marriage including Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

Late last year a group of young women in Malawi joined us online - their village was hit by bad weather causing major mudslides, destroying a local school, and forcing them offline. The hopes and dreams of these young women living on the frontline of the climate crisis are being shattered by climate change.

A few weeks ago the UN Secretary was quoted with the headline stating that the planet was being ‘clobbered by climate change’ - but the truth of the matter is that women in the most deprived communities are being clobbered by climate change.

I am in ore of Greta who has inspired millions to take action around the world, calling on young women to take matters into their own hands and take action. Yet many countries still fall short of their commitments hurting the poor the most during a pandemic of epic proportions which has crippled communities adding to their woes.

Reaching ‘Net Zero’, cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans and forests, for instance, is the target. A target which has stalled progress with many countries in a disagreement over saving our future. But many villagers have never heard of ‘Net Zero’ so how can they be part of the change when they are ill-informed?

The need for governments to scale up, educate, and inform young women in poorer and rural communities about climate change has never been greater to help better protect women’s rights, save lives and give them a chance at having a better future.

Salma Zulfiqar is the Founder and Director of ARTconnects and an Award-winning artist and Women’s Rights Activist: www.artconnects.co.uk

Global Citizen and ARTconnects are partnering on this event on 23 March to learn more about women on the Frontline of the Climate Crisis: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/women-on-the-frontline-of-the-climate-crisis-tickets-277153211717

Link to Migration Blanket - Climate Solidarity Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ayn9XAL6Jlw

View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Global Citizen on 3blmedia.com

View source version on newsdirect.com: https://newsdirect.com/news/hopes-and-dreams-shattered-by-climate-change-116997722