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Members of our Sisterhood of climate activists in the CAMFED Association headed to Glasgow (by train and virtually) to participate in several events hosted in and around the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, at this critical time for our planet. Together they brought the deep expertise, lived experience and grassroots activism of young African women to a global audience, and to the policy-making table. They represented a network of more than 178,000 change leaders, working to secure an equitable future through girls’ education. 

On November 9th 2021, CAMFED Association members joined events in the public Green Zone and the United Nations Blue Zone of COP26. This is our second time at the conference, after CAMFED received the 2019 UN Climate Action Award at COP25. In the lead-up, on October 29th, CAMFED Association members Forget Shareka and Talent Vhurachuma spoke at the UN Climate Change Conference of Youth (COY16), and on November 7th, Fiona Mavhinga joined a World Climate Summit workshop on gender equality in education. Our Sisterhood for climate action is leading by example, advocating for global investment in girls’ education and women’s leadership – and for a gender and equity lens to be applied to all solutions to the climate crisis.

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Green Zone Panel: African Women’s Grassroots Climate Action - November 9th, 12:30-14:00 GMT

In the Green Zone at COP26, four of CAMFED’s climate-smart agriculture experts — Fiona Mavhinga, Forget Shareka, Esnath Divasoni and Harriet Cheelo — joined a panel chaired by Emma Spicer, Head of the Girls’ Education Department, FCDO, on African Women’s Grassroots Climate Action.

The event was live-streamed on Youtube. It’s not too late to hear from the true experts in keeping girls in school and nourishing school communities. 

Watch the COP26 climate action event live stream

Forget, Fiona, Esnath, Harriet and 178,000 young women in our CAMFED Association Sisterhood are living proof that, with the right investment and support, today’s girls are tomorrow’s leaders, and studies show that greater representation of women in leadership results in more equitable policies and better systems.

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Blue Zone Event: Our Future, Our Voice: Girls' Education and Tackling the Climate Crisis - November 9th, 15:30-16:30 GMT

In the Blue Zone (UK Presidency Pavilion), CAMFED Association member Forget Shareka from Zimbabwe chaired a round table discussion bringing together youth climate leaders, political actors, researchers, and other key stakeholders to discuss the critical role of girls’ education and women’s leadership in tackling the climate crisis.  

The event was live-streamed on Youtube. Watch to hear from a global coalition of partners, including the FCDO’s Minister of State, Malawi’s Minister of Education, representatives from USAID, RISE and the FCDO Girls’ Education Challenge as they discuss the link between girls’ education and climate action, and listen to and answer questions from young women in Malawi, Zambia and Ghana. 

Watch the COP26 girls' education panel live stream

I am super excited for this opportunity to represent our Sisterhood for climate action, share our experiences with the world, and send a message to global leaders to make education investment a priority at COP26. Education is key to tackling climate change and keeping the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees — and the education of a girl child is unique. It changes everything, benefits our societies, the planet, and goes a long way to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. I was once at the verge of dropping out of school, and that is still a reality today for millions of children in Africa from disadvantaged backgrounds. With the education support I received from CAMFED and the Mastercard Foundation I managed to attend secondary school and get to university. Today, I am using that education to transform my community, contribute to climate adaptation and resilience. Also, I am championing change by contributing to food and nutrition security and environmental sustainability through my company, Chashi Foods.

Forget Shareka, CAMFED Association member, agronomist and climate-smart entrepreneur

Having themselves experienced the devastating effects of climate change on their communities in sub-Saharan Africa, CAMFED Association members will bring their expertise and evidence of the importance of girls’ education and women’s leadership for climate adaptation, resilience and mitigation to a global audience and the policy table.

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World Climate Summit workshop: Paving the way: How can gender equality in education positively impact climate change - November 7th, 11:30-12:30 GMT

CAMFED’s Fiona Mavhinga spoke alongside Christina Kwauk (Nonresident Fellow – Global Economy and Development, Center for Universal Education, Brookings Institution), Lucia Fry (Director, Research & Policy, Malala Fund) and two Future Rising Fellows at a workshop hosted in Glasgow by Allspring Global Investments’s Deirdre Flood CFA (Head of International Client Group) and Hannah Skeates (Co-Head of Sustainable Investing). They discussed how educating girls contributes to climate resilience, adaptation and mitigation; and how to support girls and women to secure their rights, and rise to leadership positions – both in the green economy and in climate decision-making bodies.

Explore the World Climate Summit program

We’re coming to Glasgow to remind the world that the most impactful climate investment is the education of girls. Not only is girls’ education a right, and a matter of justice — it leads to improvements at every level of society – from health to economic development to political stability – it is the foundation for women’s leadership. And evidence shows that women’s leadership results in better environmental decision-making. As women once excluded from education, who’ve now stepped into positions of authority on climate action, we’re very excited to quite literally have a seat at the global policy table

Fiona Mavhinga, Executive Adviser to the CAMFED Association of women leaders

CAMFED’s climate-smart Agriculture Guides — young women once themselves supported to receive an education — address the urgent and immediate needs of their communities. Already at the frontline of climate change, they have experienced extreme droughts and floods, as well as increased food insecurity and poverty, which in turn pushes more rural girls out of school and into child marriage.

They demonstrate the multiplier of investing in girls’ education and young women’s leadership. In Zimbabwe, for example, 320 Agriculture Guides have already trained more than 5,000 young women, and collectively they have reached more than 35,000 members of their communities (most of them women — “forgotten farmers” without access to skills training or resources). They share Indigenous and innovative climate smart agricultural methods – including mulching, agroforestry, drip irrigation, and compost-making – and connect forgotten farmers to markets and resources. Together they are nourishing school communities, building climate-smart livelihoods, improving resilience to climate shocks, and have already reached more than 10,000 children with targeted support to stay in school.

Stand with our Sisterhood for climate action

Are you ready to ignite change with CAMFED? We have the community infrastructure, the school and government partnerships, and the expertise and commitment of young educated women in the CAMFED Association - we only need the investment to educate the next generation of climate leaders. Find out how you can play a part.

Ignite change with CAMFED

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