Climate change is the hottest topic on the planet, as catastrophes of wildfires, hurricanes, flooding and droughts take center stage around the world. From Sept. 25 through 30, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, or WECAN, is hosting the virtual Global Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice, bringing together speakers and attendees from around the globe to address the critical issues connected to these disasters through a feminist lens.
The Assembly calls on women and feminists to stand at the forefront of policy-making, and through this gathering will call for immediate action to address the climate emergency.
Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Osprey Orielle Lake, executive director of WECAN, who talks about the topics to be explored at the Global Women’s Assembly and the fundamental causes of the climate crisis.
OSPREY ORIELLE LAKE: The Global Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice is organized by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, so we are the main organizers and hosts and designers of the event, and we are really honored to have over 100 global partner organizations who are joining us to uplift the event and participate with us, along with over 90 speakers from 40 countries at this point. So, we’re really excited about the representation from the global community. What we are doing is uplifting women and gender-diverse voices to really demonstrate community-led solutions, strategies, policies and frameworks to address the climate crisis. You know, leadership at the United Nations has said this is “Code Red for humanity,” and we are saying we are drawing a red line to say we need to act on climate justice now, so a lot of the different speakers and panels are going to be addressing the fact that for decades, women, feminists, black, indigenous, brown, frontline community leaders and speakers, have been talking for a long time around a lot of the root causes of the climate crisis, as well as solutions.
So, we’re going to be online for six days, with 20 panels featuring topics from forest protection, which is central to climate solutions — both in terms of protecting old growth forests as well as regenerating forests and reforestation projects; how indigenous rights are a solution to the climate crisis and the role of indigenous rights and indigenous leaders in resistance movements; as well as feminist frameworks for climate policies and new economies. We will be talking about food security and food sovereignty; renewable energy; ocean protection and sea-level rise and so much more because we see that there needs to be coherence across all sectors with a feminist lens and women’s leadership.
We know that women around the world are impacted first and worst by the climate crisis due to unequal gender norms. Yet, when we look at all the statistics around who are the backbones of a lot of the movement that we see toward solutions and movements that are very successful, as well as women in high levels of leadership roles, that women are really leading the way, so that we really want to show all the variety of ways and different arenas in which women are demonstrating their solutions. So, like I said, there are 20 panels over six days to really delve into a lot of different topics in great depth and with a feminist analysis.
MELINDA TUHUS: Osprey Orielle Lake, I feel like a lot of climate activists don’t look at the underlying problems that have led us to this point, but your gathering is going to do that. Can you explain a little?
OSPREY ORIELLE LAKE: The reason that we’re gathering all these amazing leaders from around the world is that the climate crisis, the Covid 19 pandemic and socio-ecological injustices have emerged from interconnected systems of capitalism, racism, the commodification of nature, colonialism, imperialism and patriarchy, and if we’re going to really address this moment in time, which is a result of how we have been living for a very long time, we have to really confront these deepening crises, and accelerate a path forward that has collective coherence to address the protection and defense of human rights and nature and uphold community-led solutions.
And what that means is that we have to understand that all these interlocking crises didn’t just happen. It is a result of a worldview and a system change that we have been needing to address for a really long time. So the ideologies and societal norms of white supremacy, patriarchy, colonization and capitalism really continue to be at war with both people and planet, and interfere with the healthy and just world we seek.
So, when we’re talking about solutions, we need to understand that, as an example, indigenous, black and brown women – people of color – are harmed first and worst because of these systemic problems. And when we look at solutions, we need to really center BIPOC communities. We need to center nature. We need to center all the communities – whether they’re human or non-human – and center their voices and solutions.
Learn more about the Global Assembly for Climate Justice, which is free and open to all genders, by visiting the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network WECAN at wecaninternational.org, WECAN Assembly for Climate Justice at wecaninternational.org/womens-