Lives at risk

Climate Wise Women at COP21: “We should put images of people who are dying on those big screens”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (C), President-designate of COP21, and Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres (L), attend the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) on December 9, 2015. (REUTERS/Stephane Mahe)

Though climate change does not discriminate, the victims of climate change are predominantly women – especially in developing countries, where women make up the majority of small farmers. In Paris for the United Nations COP21 climate action forum, some of those women were there to make their voices heard to the world’s leaders. Thilmeeza Hussain is from the Maldives, where the rising ocean level is pushing shore-dwellers from their homes and contaminating the water table. With her colleagues Constance Okollet of Uganda and Ursula Rakova of the Carteret Islands, also known as the Climate Wise Women, Hussain is in Paris to stand up for the survival of her 400,000 countrymen. “We shouldn’t be forced to leave our country because of inaction of other people,” she told PRI.

“I think we should put images of people who are dying on those big screens in the negotiation rooms so they can have a human face,” Hussain said. “And then (can they) sit there and negotiate and put brackets around 1.5 degrees Celsius as a long-term objective and say we don’t care even these lives are lost?

Okollet, who has seen extreme floods and droughts as a peasant farmer in Uganda, said she’s sick of seasons that come as a “gamble” when the bargaining chips are the lives of those in her community: “They’ve been talking, talking, talking. Why don’t they act?”

Read the full story at PRI.

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