writer + artist

Constance Okollet

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“If we join hands together, things can change.”

-Constance Okollet

Several years ago I was honored to be on a panel at SXSW Eco with Constance Okollet. Constance is a farmer from Uganda, and she has been instrumental in not just organizing fellow farmers in her region, but taking a stand against climate change on an international level.

Constance, like many other female farmers around the world, feels the effects of climate change first hand. In fact, climate change disproportionately affects women. According to UN Women, “it’s the world’s poorest and those in vulnerable situations, especially women and girls, who bear the brunt of environmental, economic and social shocks. Often, women and girls are the last to eat or be rescued; they face greater health and safety risks as water and sanitation systems become compromised; and they take on increased domestic and care work as resources dwindle.”

Constance, and the work of fellow women in Uganda to help their communities better adapt to the effects of climate change, was recently featured in an article in Sierra Magazine. The article reminded me of her work and inspired me to select her as one of the 100 women to profile in the Women’s Wisdom Project because I think that she very much represents the struggle of women agricultural workers around the globe, and their intersection with environmental policy.

Climate change is closely connected to gender equity, and climate policy needs to take gender issues into account. Today, the average representation of women in national and global climate negotiating bodies is less than a third. And yet, according to the UN, “rural women make up over a quarter the world population and majority of the 43 per cent of women in the global agricultural labour force.”

Women like Constance need a place at the decision making table. Women plant the seeds and reap the harvests. They ensure food security and climate resilience. Empowering them, ensuring that they have access to land, and access to the decision making tables, means tackling climate chance head on. There are initiatives and organizations focused on the idea that by empowering women, we could in fact reduce climate change, like Women’s Environment and Development Organization, Gender CC – Women for Climate Justice and UN Women.

As Okollet says, “if we join hands together, things can change.”

This papercut is a part of the Women’s Wisdom Project, a yearlong project focused on showcasing the wisdom of inspiring, insightful women by making 100 papercut portraits.

Written by Anna Brones

March 13, 2018 at 12:14

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