Behind every powerful campaign or social movement are countless hours of hard work. Often uncelebrated, the hours of planning, logistics, catering, conversations, coaching, note-taking and cleaning up are essential - and often shouldered by women and queer people in the background of the movement.
To celebrate International Women's Day 2019, here are a collection of stories from inspirational wom*n and non-binary activists in the climate justice movement. And to the thousands of women and LGBTI+ young people who make our campaigns for climate justice possible: we see you and we are so so grateful.
Vanessa is the NT Campaigner and Organiser with the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network, leading work on the ground to fight against fracking in the Northern Territory. Vanessa supports young Aboriginal people and Traditional Owners across the Northern Territory to connect, share stories and take action to protect country and stand up to fossil fuel companies.
Precious is the Central Region Communications Manager with the Sierra Club, working on campaigns to move the United States beyond coal. Her leadership and advocacy elevates the struggles and intersections of the environmental justice and trans rights movements. Read her interview with Grist exploring how the risks of environmental and climate damage are exacerbated for transgender and gender non-conforming people.
"Diversity is not a monolith and neither are trans people. That’s one of the reasons I love the work that I do, that I bring such a unique perspective to working with all different kinds of communities."
Grace is a state leader with AYCC NSW, mentoring students and young people across Western Sydney to gain the skills and confidence to change the world. Her dedication in pestering political leaders to shift the politics on coal, and commitment to grassroots organising and conversations for climate justice, is amazing!
"In a world so centred around monetary possessions and capitalistic purposes, every second that young people dedicate to volunteering in the fight for climate justice adds years to the collective time we have left thriving on a healthy planet; and you can bet that this generation will neither wait, nor waste time."
Angel is a proud Aboriginal and South Sea Islander woman and a community organiser with the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network. She is leading work with young people in North Queensland to protect country and stop dangerous fossil fuel projects.
"I am passionate working for climate justice because I grew up seeing the impacts of climate change right in my back yard. From costal erosion, contaminated water, bushfires and floods I watched my family rebuild more than once with 7 children. They wanted all of us kids to have a strong connection to culture and country and they would do anything for us to have that privilege. Now that I am expecting my first child, I feel their strength. I want nothing more than for my son to have a strong connection to his culture and to be able to experience tradition in the rawest form."
Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini has helped catapult the youth climate justice movement into the political and media spotlight in the US. From leading sit-ins at political offices, to dreaming big about how climate policy can create better jobs and health outcomes for everyone, it's pretty inspiring stuff. Check out this news clip exploring the movement's goals and success so far.
Kai is an activist working tirelessly in climate justice, renewable energy and divestment campaigning, including as a community organiser with Nature NSW. They write and campaign extensively on racial, LGBTI+ and climate justice.
Author, advocate and activist Vandana Shiva has written over 20 books on environmental justice, food sovereignty, ecofeminism and the protection of land and culture. And a huge amount of her research and wisdom is available online!
“Climate change is not just a problem for the future. It is impacting us every day, everywhere.”
Chante is one of the incredible volunteers in AYCC's network who has trained hundreds of high school students to understand climate justice and believe in their own power to change the world. Chante's countless hours dedicated to running trainings and workshops, coordinating events and mentoring young people lays the foundations for a powerful, sustainable youth climate movement for the years to come.
"There has never been a more important time for young people to come together to fight for our future”
Alongside the Sunrise Movement, recently elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has helped to transform the conversation about ambitious and justice in climate action within the US Democratic Party. She's an amazing example of a young woman with lived experience of injustice taking a community mandate for social transformation into the halls of power - and she gives a bloody great speech!
Of course there are countless more stories of inspirational work of wom*n leading struggles for justice in diverse ways - from the halls of power, to coordinating grassroots resistance, to the care and domestic labour that goes into sustaining communities.
Thank you, all of you, for all of it.