Empowering Women for Climate Justice: The African Feminist Academy for Climate Justice Sparks Transformation
The African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET) recently hosted a groundbreaking event in Nairobi, Kenya – the African Feminist Academy for Climate Justice (AFACJ). This seven-day workshop brought together over 50 participants from 13 African countries, representing a diverse range of perspectives and experiences. The academy aimed to foster a deeper understanding of the intersections between feminism, climate justice, and the urgent need for transformative action. Through participatory methodologies and feminist popular education, AFACJ provided a platform for grassroots women to amplify their voices and shape the future of climate finance and action.
Setting the Stage: Addressing Gender Inequality and Climate Change: Climate change is a global crisis that disproportionately affects marginalized communities, particularly women, young people, and indigenous peoples. FEMNET recognized that achieving climate justice requires placing women and girls at the center of every initiative. Historically, women have been underrepresented in environmental decision-making processes and have faced limited access to resources, networks, and legal systems. AFACJ aimed to address these gaps and barriers by promoting gender equality and empowering women to become leaders in climate action.
Empowering Women’s Agency in Climate Finance: One of the key areas of focus during AFACJ was examining the challenges faced by women and girls in accessing climate finance. The academy acknowledged that women living on the margins of society bear the uneven burden of the climate crisis while being underfunded and perceived as passive victims. By employing a feminist approach to climate financing, participants explored strategies to enhance women’s access to climate finance while advancing effective and sustainable climate action. The goal was to catalyze progress on women-driven, women-centered climate initiatives that promote equity and justice.
Sharing Best Practices and Lessons Learned: Throughout the academy, participants from diverse movements, groups, and organizations shared their experiences, best practices, and lessons learned. The focus was on breaking through institutional silos and strengthening the evidence base for gender-transformative climate actions. By amplifying the voices of women and girls, AFACJ ensured that they had a say in shaping the future of climate finance and action. Moreover, specific intersectional vulnerabilities that contribute to the disproportionate impact on women and girls were addressed, fostering a more inclusive and comprehensive approach.
Queen O, an environmental activist from Nigeria, expressed, “AFACJ has been a transformative experience. It has empowered me to advocate for gender equality in climate finance and to challenge the prevailing narrative that women are mere victims. We have the knowledge, skills, and expertise to be leaders in climate action.”
Azeb, a climate activist from Ethiopia, shared, “Being part of AFACJ has given me hope and inspiration. It has allowed me to connect with like-minded individuals and learn from their experiences. Together, we can create a more just and sustainable future for Africa.”
Alda, a representative from an indigenous women’s organization in Mozambique emphasized, “AFACJ has provided a platform for indigenous women to share our traditional knowledge and practices. Our voices have been heard, and we are committed to working towards climate justice while honoring our ancestral wisdom.”
Shaping Demands and Advocacy Towards COP28: On the final day of AFACJ, participants reflected on the learning exchange and the entire process. They collaborated to formulate demands for advocacy and a campaign leading up to COP28. The academy served as a catalyst for meaningful change, empowering participants to take their experiences and knowledge back to their communities, organizations, and countries. Through united efforts, these demands will contribute to shaping global climate policy and promoting a more inclusive and equitable future.
The African Feminist Academy for Climate Justice, organized by FEMNET, brought together African women from diverse backgrounds to address the urgent need for gender-transformative climate action. This groundbreaking event empowered women to challenge systemic inequalities, enhance their access to climate finance, and shape the future of climate policy. By amplifying the voices and experiences of marginalized women, AFACJ reinforced the crucial role that feminism plays in achieving climate justice. As Africa moves towards COP28, the demands and advocacy born out of AFACJ will contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future for all.