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During the second week of the 2019 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, a series of special events celebrated the winners of this year’s Global Climate Action Awards. They culminated in an awards ceremony on Tuesday December 10, to honor 15 game-changing initiatives from more than 20 countries. CAMFED was one of four awardees in the ‘Women for Results’ category, for young women’s grassroots action on climate change in rural sub-Saharan Africa. Esnath Divasoni, a CAMFED Association leader and Agriculture Guide, and Catherine Boyce, CAMFED Director of Enterprise Development, were delighted to accept the award on behalf of all in our movement.

“Today, we are feeling on top of the world as proud members of the CAMFED Association, CAMA. Winning this award will raise our ambitions even higher as we support more girls to go to school, thrive and lead change. We got this seal of approval just as some of my sisters and I graduated from EARTH University with support from the Mastercard Foundation and CAMFED. We stand ready to return to our communities to take bold action against climate change and girls’ exclusion from education.” - Esnath Divasoni, CAMFED Association leader and climate-smart Agriculture Guide, Zimbabwe

The award recognizes young women leaders in the CAMFED Association, CAMA, who are encouraging wide adoption of practical and affordable techniques for climate-smart agriculture, helping to build communities' resilience in the face of climate change.

Esnath is one of these young women, and has received training as a climate-smart Agriculture Guide. This initiative was launched in 2014 through CAMFED’s partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and EARTH University, with funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and others, also playing a vital role in the development of CAMFED’s programs to educate girls and support young women’s transition to secure livelihoods after school. Since then, the Agriculture Guides have improved improved the productivity, sustainability and profitability of their own smallholdings and reached more than 8,500 individuals through demo farms, community workshops and mentoring.

Through the events at COP25, Esnath highlighted the simple solutions that Agriculture Guides demonstrate, as well as the many benefits of their work:

Sowing seeds: How girls’ education catalyses climate action in rural Africa

On Monday December 9, Esnath and Catherine took part in a talk-show style event, giving the audience an insight into Esnath’s early life in Zimbabwe. Her story reflects that of many CAMFED students and alumnae, who are rooted in rural communities reliant on rain-fed agriculture as a source of food and income. Esnath described her family’s struggle to cultivate enough to cover school-going and living costs, especially as drought and floods became more commonplace.

Esnath then talked about and demonstrated some of the climate-smart techniques she has learnt which are helping her family and others to increase productivity and overcome challenges. This included pot-in-pot refrigeration which helps rural communities to preserve their produce for longer, reducing waste and improving nutrition.

Esnath and Catherine on stage at COP25

"I'm a product of my community, and I want to give back to them. The skills that I've learned, the knowledge that I have, I'm going to be sharing with everybody." Esnath on her role as a CAMFED Association climate-smart Agriculture Guide.

Women for Results Special Event

Another conference highlight was Esnath’s appearance on a panel for the ‘Women for Results’ awardees (pictured above). In her presentation Esnath talked about the positive change that results when girls are supported in education and women are empowered as leaders and entrepreneurs. She brought into the room other members of the CAMFED Association, who are using their knowledge of climate-smart agriculture to benefit others. Eva from Tanzania has used her rice demo-farm to train approximately 50 people. While Clarah from Zimbabwe teaches school children about mulching to prevent water evaporation and recycling available materials, including plastic water bottles, to help with irrigation.

“These award-winning projects shine a light on outstanding examples of scalable, innovative and practical climate action from around the world. Each of these projects serve as beacons, guiding us towards a better future. The recipients of the UN Global Climate Action Awards are leaders from communities, governments, businesses and organisations, and they are from all corners of the globe and all levels of society. The teams behind these projects are stepping up to meet the global climate challenge by delivering on the Paris Agreement.” - Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change

Hear from CAMFED Association founding member and CAMFED Executive Director, Angeline Murimirwa, and CAMFED Association member Leticia Chikumbirike about the Agriculture Guide Program.

Awards Ceremony

Esnath and Catherine took to the stage once more on Tuesday evening to accept the UN Global Climate Action Award in the ‘Women for Results’ category. The presence of our 140,000 young women leaders was truly felt when Esnath joyfully raised the award above her head for all to see. She later said: “I had to make sure the CAMFED Association and the world saw our award!” 

The ceremony was also marked by the first screening of the UN Momentum for Change’s short film about the award winners in each category (see left). Celebrating ‘Women for Results’, this film is narrated by Founding Signatory of the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action Stella McCartney.