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  • Vanessa Zwisele, Isaac Bravo and Ophelia Wach

“However, there is hope…”

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

How women across the planet experience the impacts of climate change

The intercultural video project “100 Voices - One Planet” collects and amplifies voices of people from the areas most affected by climate change. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the 100 Voices team gives insights into how their women participants are affected by climate change and what they believe is needed to stop it.

“In normal contexts women already suffer to get food for their children” says Regina from Mozambique, a participant in the video project “100 Voices - One Planet”. Climate change and unpredictable weather conditions make this even harder. “It is difficult to determine when is the best time to plant, avoid crop loss and have a successful harvest”, explains Miriam from Guatemala. As a result, “droughts impact negatively the lives of [these] women, making them more vulnerable than normal”, states Regina.

What Regina and Miriam experience is a common problem in many communities across the planet. As the team behind “100 Voices - One Planet”, a global intercultural video project, we have had the chance to listen to many stories on daily challenges our participants face with a changing climate. They are students, parents, grandparents, teachers or farmers from areas most vulnerable to climate change. With international women’s day around the corner, we took a closer look at what our women’s voices are concerned about. We realized ourselves that even if you are deeply invested in the climate debate, you might not be aware of how climate change affects people in their daily lives, let alone how it affects women.

What do women say on climate change?

We’ve asked all our participants the same question: “How does climate change affect you and/or your community?”. Out of the 30 statements we have collected so far, 18 of the participants are women between the age of 5 and 86 from almost every continent in the world such as Africa, South and Central America, Asia and Europe. Although these testimonies are not representative of all women globally, we identified the most frequently used words and common themes raised by the women’s voices of “100 Voices - One Planet”:

As evident in this word cloud, our women participants seem highly concerned about the impact of climate change on water as well as disastrous events such as floods or droughts. Furthermore, they appear to be worried about changing seasons and their consequences for the agricultural sector and food security. In general, the women participating in the 100 Voices project often use words like “people”, “life”, “family” or “youth”/”children” and “vulnerable”. Let us take a closer look at what they say!

Walking the extra mile to fetch water

Our voices from Madagascar, Indonesia, Zimbabwe and South Africa stress that the amount of water as a resource is decreasing. As primary providers and caretakers for their families, women are the first to experience water shortages caused by climate change and increased temperatures. Particularly in rural areas of countries like Mozambique and Zimbabwe, our women’s voices report that women and children are the ones who are often sent to look for water. “Most of the times, they travel long distances” says Elizabeth from Zimbabwe and “they also have to travel longer distances[...] each time the drought worsens” adds the Mozambique news reporter Regina.

Moreover, climate change negatively impacts the water quality. Due to warmer water temperatures and the increased likelihood of floods, women from Bosnia, Puerto Rico or South Africa all experience deteriorating drinking water quality which puts their lives and livelihoods at stake.

Finding new sources for food and income Another concern expressed by our women participants is the increasing threat to food security. Our women’s voices highlight the negative impacts floods, droughts, as well as high temperatures have had on a stable and secure access to food in countries such as Bulgaria, Guatemala, India, Zimbabwe and Colombia. As Rani, 86, from India states, rising birth rates in some areas of the world such as India aggravate the problem because “now there are too many people.”

Fiorella from Colombia tells us that because of this, families and communities that depend on agriculture have had to adapt not only their lifestyle but also the way in which they access food. In this context, Miriam from Guatemala stresses that this increases communities’ vulnerability and is worrisome "specifically in a country with high percentages of famine and poverty". Being the change they want to see

Many more stories remain to be shared - not only on how women experience climate change but also on what actions need to be taken. As Rani, an Indian grandmother, states,“there is hope, as previously women were not educated, now they are and from that we have learnt a lot.”. This hope is reflected in some of our participants who passionately engage in climate activism and believe that there is something we all can do: “The same way that we take care of our health we should also love and take care of our planet. And remember, even small acts when performed and multiplied by millions of people can really transform the world”, says Bozana from Bosnia. As the 100 Voices team, we couldn’t agree more. Like our youngest participant Eleanor from Paraguay, 5, states so truly: “El futuro es hoy” - The future is now.

About “100 Voices - One Planet”:

"100 voices - One planet" (100VOP) is a video project by five international students from the Technical University in Munich. By collecting voices across all ages, genders and ethnicities on the impacts of climate change from all around the planet, we aim for more inclusive and ambitious climate actions by global leaders.

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