How can girls’ education help combat climate change?

For each additional year of schooling a girl receives on average, her country’s resilience to climate disasters gets betterYet education remains an overlooked strategy to protect the planet.

The Pan-African Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) movement puts girls at the forefront of climate action through its Farm Girl Guides Program, which educates women from marginalized farming communities about sustainability.

Forget Shareka, a member of the CAMFED Association and founder of Chasi Foods, a company tackling food waste in Zimbabwe, contributed the guide with other young leaders. Shareka is actively working to promote sustainable agriculture within her community and beyond.

Global Citizen spoke with Shareka about how she is fostering the adoption of sustainable techniques, why the education of women and girls must be at the center of climate action, and more.


Global Citizen: Why is it important for girls to have access to education to help reduce our global greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change?

Forget Shareka: When we look at the people who are most vulnerable when it comes to climate disasters, especially in developing countries, the people most affected are women. If we educate these girls, one day they will become women and can contribute to tangible solutions.

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Can you tell me about the climate-smart practices CAMFED teaches women and girls?

At COP25 [the United Nations Climate Conference in 2019]CAMFED won the Climate Action Awards for CAMFED Agriculture Guide Program. It was [one] from the people who wrote the guide to reaching forgotten farmers. Those forgotten farmers are often women without adequate access to training and land resources. We link them to information and services that help them increase returns. When yields increase, they also contribute to building community resilience and climate action. That guide, I think last year, was used to train more than 35,000 farmers.

In Africa, most women in marginalized areas are responsible for walking long distances in search of firewood. To ease that burden, we tried to come up with a fuel-efficient, energy-efficient stove that also doesn’t use a lot of wood, and we introduced the idea of ​​replanting trees.

How have you seen the impact of climate change in your community and what role have girls and women had to play in recovery efforts?

The most painful thing is, the entire continent [Africa] it emits only 3% of global emissions.

I would love to quote what I think one of the agriculture ministers from the climate department in Kenya said. [at COP26 in 2021]:: “When it doesn’t rain, we cry, and when it rains, we bleed.” I share the same sentiment. When it doesn’t rain, we face very serious droughts that burden women a lot because in most families… especially in rural areas, women are in charge of looking for food. When a climate crisis strikes, it means a woman is forced to find a part-time job far away, and a girl has the added responsibility of caring for siblings while the mother is away from home. That also affects the health of a family because people are not eating properly. They are exposed to other diseases that are linked to malnutrition. The girl also has to go in search of water, and on the way there are cases of girls being raped.

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When it rains excessively, when there are floods, people are moving. During cyclone idai, many families were displaced and forced to stay in inappropriate structures that increased the cases of abuse. Your security is not guaranteed in this type of infrastructure. Simply put, a climate crisis translates into a humanitarian crisis.

How Chasi Foods integrate sustainability into your mission?

What we’re trying to do is reduce post-harvest losses and food waste through agro-processing opportunities, leveraging innovation and clean energy while improving living standards in the areas in which we operate. lose. In Zimbabwe, 40% of the food produced each year is also wasted, and that is a reality in most African countries. That food can feed the people of Kenya for four years.

We work with farmers, especially women and youth from rural areas who do not have access to the market, so we give them access by buying their products. We also offer drying services to some of the well established farmers for excess produce that they were unable to sell and increase the shelf life of their produce.

We contribute to food security and climate action because when spoiled food spoils, it produces carbon dioxide and methane. For example, just last year, we managed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector by 10%, which is a lot for a company that is only three years old.

How have you seen the value of empowering women and girls to fight climate change firsthand?

Women not only contribute to change in the company [Chasi Foods], also contribute to change outside the company in their homes. For example, we value the separation of garbage. We don’t just throw things away. And one day I visited one of the workers in her house. I found out that she also implemented the same garbage separation process. It means that we are making a change not only within the company but also within the community because people are taking it home and educating others.

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What would you say to ordinary citizens who want to take action on climate change within their own communities?

Every day is an opportunity to help and contribute to change in different ways. Every community has needs. There is always something that can be done, be it bigger or smaller. It is a matter of collaboration. It’s a matter of saying, “Okay, we have to take action.” It is a matter of compassion, and compassion is at the heart of our actions. Let’s have that kind of mindset, that even if maybe it’s not me causing it, I can play a part in solving it. Please consider loss and damage because those people who are contributing the least [to climate change] they are paying the highest price, [and] that’s not fair.