Becoming an activist is more than a choice for me, it’s a necessity. It needs me to push harder and do extraordinary things to make sure we are heard. I was schooled in the food basket of the nation.
This is where I saw the first-hand impacts of the climate change crisis and drought-driven clashes between the farmers and herders. In several situations, you see the villages and lots of displaced people coming into the school in search of shelter; this increases the rate of crime and struggles for natural resources such as water. If we drop labels, we will see climate change is a reality. We have to face the reality. And if we don’t face the reality, it will become a global crisis. We have to start facing the challenge now. If we see a society with loss of livelihood, drought, flood, you have to become a voice – for your society, family and large. It’s true that we can get the right solution if only we are using the right approach.
The school girls that were abducted in Chibok, Borno state in Nigeria were what made me an ecofeminist. Then I started researching when this happened– what could have led to this abduction? This is the trend we are facing in the region – mass abduction. Nigeria had the largest displaced population from Lake Chad – the drought and famine has increased banditry, loss of livelihoods and there’s no ready alternative for them to switch from to make a sustainable livelihood. We need to educate people, if you don’t that a problem exist, you can’t provide the solution to it. This is why I started the movement to bring more young people to climate activism. We need the climate governance. Once it’s there, we will know it’s a top priority. We need stop playing politics.
Eco-feminism focuses on how women are disparately affected by the climate change. Despite having the lowest carbon footprint, women experience land poverty, food poverty, time poverty and energy poverty. All of this poverty disproportionately affects women. For instance, women experience time and energy poverty by having to travel for miles to collect food and water. So now, these voices are left behind and we need to bring them to the centre of all discussion. Nature wants to claim its space, and women want to claim the space. This is why the imbalance keeps existing. And we can’t find equitable solutions while it disparities keep existing. This is why women need a voice.
We are seeing increasing child brides – women need to be change makers and voices in their communities. As a survival strategy – young women are married out. The more we involve women in issues of local and national importance – the bigger change we will see. This will help with food security and livelihoods – as women produce most food but have little land security. This is land poverty. If they are given access to their land, imagine how much they can provide to the nation.
We are seeing different ways that women are affected by climate change. If women have this poverty time poverty, land poverty, energy poverty – then how can they focus on conservation? There’s a correlation between women and nature. They are the ones who need to protect the environment. The more nature can’t claim its space, the more women are set back.
I’m currently writing an article about eco-feminism and democracy. Nature should be part of our democracy. Democracy is becoming fragile. If we don’t intercept democracy with nature – then we start getting is. Eco-feminism therefore even has a role in democracy – it improves the lives of women and girls – depends on nature. All these things will improve women and girls. Involving women in decision-making: eco-feminism not against the male or counterparts – we just want to claim our space. This space will create equality. All the issues are intersectional.
I have been advocating about the fact that Lake Chad needs to be restored as a step forward. We have to take it into account that millions of people have lost their livelihoods. Providing livelihoods is one of the humanitarian aids we need to take into account. In the sub-Saharan region – climate change is leading to conflicts and banditry. These are issues that are affecting us – when livelihoods are lost; people become vulnerable to armed groups.
Lake Chad cannot support the millions of livelihoods that it was previously supporting – as it should be. There is also mass migration. Leading to new conflicts, killings and kidnapping. We need climate governance now. These issues are really affecting us. It’s also leading to drought and famine. The herdsmen have to move around as a survival strategy to ease the burden of climate change and this is leading to clashes with the farmers due to resource control. The centre is getting weak, and war would be imminent.
When I start raising my voice, we get the attention from global north and other international arena. I have been arguing how it’s increased terrorism, peace and insecurity. Northern eastern Nigeria known for food production, so drought is fast taking over its farmlands. We rely on agriculture for 60% of employment opportunities. When there’s drought, it becomes so difficult and leads to hunger and affects all of the Sustainable Development Goals. Acting on Lake Chad will help us achieve all the goals.
There have been several commitments made by the United Nations and the international community, but greater much is needed to be done for Lake Chad to restore to its normal size. We have seen humanitarian support, but we have to also recharge the lake and give people alternative livelihoods. Because this is what is going to sustain them, and this is what is going to reduce the impacts of the climate crisis. When we restore Lake Chad, we restore hope. This will lead to greater stability. We can’t win through more military action. We need climate action to be at the centre of our action. There’s nowhere else that has an issue like that of the Sub-Sahara region – we need to know the right solution to the right crisis. We need more climate action.
One of our key goals for the I Lead Climate movement (www.womenandcrisis.com) is looking at how we can use eco-feminist lens to climate crisis. Right now, we are focusing on Africa. We are currently working on a project that we are involved in to develop a module on Ecofeminism and Climate Change for an online course that will be taken by thousands of people. It will help in developing the knowledge of people. Once it is done, it will provide solutions. And it will bring more people to the climate change movement. It’s going to act as a catalyst for young people to know where the problem lies. It will help reduce displacement and how we can adapt this and where the solution lies.
The model will be embedded with different types of knowledge that will help to foster development. A tool that can also be used for advocacy and a tool that can be used SDGs. It’s going to teach people about misconceptions about climate change. It is knowledge and sustainability driven and encourages more young people to get involved in the climate action. we all have to work together and tackle the issue.
The I Lead climate movement is working towards providing information in the bid to correct misconceptions especially in the Lake Chad region because the “stability” of the Lake doesn’t justify the means. At the same time, misinformation can disrupt actions that are needed. Currently, more 10.7 million people are displaced, and COVID-19 has worsened the situation. We want to correct these norms while being part of the solution and feed into our society. The future is bright but we must back it up with action. If we don’t know where we are going then there’s no future.
I want to see more young people to come into the movement for climate change justice. It’s a platform for them to come. Being an activist is not easy as it work. You have to keep thinking of what you need to do and how to influence policymakers and political will. We hope to make it easier for young people and to take action in different ways that will influence climate action.