The voices of 150 African women resonated powerfully during the second Women’s Climate Assembly 2023 (WCA), where participants from 17 countries across Central and West Africa converged in Lagos, Nigeria, to learn and share more about their related struggles.
Organized from September 24 to 28, 2023, the gathering brought together women under the banner, African women united for climate justice, reparations and development alternatives! Faced with the escalating climate crisis, it is African women who are disproportionately affected. Yet their voices and struggles often remain ignored and sidelined by governments, multinational corporations and elites who put profit before people and the planet.
Africa is faster warming than the global average, from deadly floods in West Africa, droughts and famine in East Africa to devastating cyclones in Southern Africa, the climate emergency calls for drastic measures if we are to avoid carbon emissions exceed 1.5 degrees of global warming.
Women will no longer accept being mere spectators to the global crisis that is profoundly affecting their lives and livelihoods. Instead, they are actively engaged in radical resistance against destructive mining and extractive activities, megaprojects such as hydroelectric dams, monoculture, land grabbing and the continued exploitation and pollution of our ecology and our natural resources.
This new rush for Africa’s wealth and mineral resources places a heavy burden on women, particularly those who produce crops for their families and for the market, having to travel long and often perilous distances to fetch food. water, and live with the continued and ruthless extraction of resources. towards the northern countries.
With the support of a few non-governmental organizations working in solidarity with community women and a steering group of women’s movements and grassroots networks, the assembly provided crucial political space for women from Benin, Burkina Faso, from Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
They participated in various activities, including classes, political education workshops, from song and poetry to making posters and banners. Participants exchanged knowledge, amplifying the voices of their communities to support and mobilize the creation of women-led movements and strategies, as well as development alternatives, from an extractivist economic model to a just and people-centered model. people.
To make the voices of women and frontline communities heard, the assembly joined the third COP 2023 of the African Peoples Counter, organizing an online session on green colonialism within the framework of the popular assemblies. Both side events sought to shine a spotlight on Africa and provide a much-needed platform for their collective struggles and share solidarity with communities across the continent in the fight for climate justice.
“We are asking them to change the system. We cannot live in this climate – it is hot everywhere, there are many diseases and we can no longer survive. Our plants are dying, our animals are dying. We need to change things and tell them to leave our climate alone! With the COP Counter, we will make the COP a space that serves us. A space where we can assert our demands and ensure that community voices are at the forefront,” said Oumou Koulibaly, from Senegal.
Ahead of the next one COP28 in Dubai last November, which has been captured by the corporate polluters who lobby for their vested interests, advocate false solutions like Net Zero and greenwash their dirty oil and gas businesses on the continent, the voices of Africans must be at the forefront discussions because Africa and its peoples are those who benefit the least from the pillaging of its natural resources. Between growing food insecurity, climate refugees, an economic slowdown and a growing humanitarian crisis, it is time for polluters to pay their historic debt for the losses and damage that Africa has felt the hardest.
“We need to talk to polluters about the problems they are causing in our communities. Everywhere you turn there are problems. After maybe six or seven years, you’ll hear about fairness, but we’re still there. We need to wake up and do something as women! When we sit there, they will speak for us. We need to wake up and do something that will bring us justice,” said Abie Freeman of Liberia.
At the end of the assembly, participants published a declaration in which they demanded climate justice, reparations and development alternatives. Following the success of last year’s inaugural assembly in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, it is now a permanent assembly where women can continue to build together and forge a new future that highlights the powerful resistance of African women organizing for a just world, a healthy and equitable future for all.