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A cancelled History: we cannot solve the climate crisis without women and girls


A cancelled history, containing the fact that we cannot solve the climate crisis without women and girls

On international women’s day I was invited as speakers on several platforms; Nile University of Nigeria, Georgetown Institute for Women, peace and Security, AGRA,Eygpt’ COP27 presidency side event on young women in agriculture, Amos Trust webinar (as one of the female fellows), center for gender, power and diversity at Rockilde University in Denmark among other upcoming events. These events were virtual except that of Nile University of Nigeria. So, here is my speech to the student and staff of Nile University of Nigeria below.

I had my tertiary education far away from home. As a young lady for the first time I got to see another view of what the world looks like and experience its reality. While I was an undergraduate student, as a new student I came across different world that are not common but found within the university environment. On different occasions I hear the word “Jamo” being referred to by the male folks to the female folk. On one of these occasions I asked what the meaning? I was told it could mean prostitute – such a wrong word! I was told that the name was derived at an early stage of the university when there was only one hostel for both male and females. They have eventually passed judgement to history but not telling the truth the way it is. And a one sided history is a cancelled history because there is more to it. However, history exists but it is how we tell them matters.

When I was in primary school, I had this little argument with a male classmate. He told me that girls’ education will end in the kitchen. I wondered how naive he was – maybe he must have known better by now. Then I know nothing about gender equality but I know within me that it is a grievous injustice to be done unto women whether educated or not for our rights to be limited because we have women like LadiKwail that her skills empowered her and she broke the bias – she became an honorary doctor. This has inspired many women to become creative. We also have women like Rita Idehai, AdejokeLasisi who are re purposing waste into bags, shoes and other reuse items. Just imagine if her role has been limited to the kitchen, maybe our society will have been undeveloped. Though, I was able to tell him that my education will not end in the kitchen. Then he went ahead to say that his wife and sisters’ education will end in the kitchen. Seeing women as a liability has become a stereotype and a norm that we need to break free from. From research, it is further stated that it is during drought and flood that girls are married off – we need not to normalize using girls as a survival strategy to deal with the impacts of the climate crisis because today’s girls are tomorrow’s women. Also, the climate crisis has the face of women and girls. How do you expect our society to be stable when more than half of the people (women) that make up the population are left behind? How do we solve the defining issues of our time when women struggle to be part of the society? Sometimes, I feel men are threatened by a gender- balanced world. Otherwise, what will it take for the gender bill to be passed? Just because we are underrepresented in different arms of governments doesn’t mean we are a weaker vessel yet we have what it takes to bring about a sustainable world. Gender equality is all about knowing your rights and using your rights. Today, I remember the Chibok School girls and other victims of abduction including those whose rights have been marginalized from exercising our equal rights. It is possible that one of these girls can become the first female governor in her state. Every day, we lose change makers (women) due to traditional and social norms. Leaving women behind in solving the climate crisis is the most dangerous thing to do because we are not just leaving women behind but also depriving ourselves of the vital contribution in solving climate change. If we have attained gender equality, maybe we might have found the lasting solution in solving the defining issues of our time such as food insecurity, hunger, poverty and even education for all. Every bit of solution matters. Her voice can become your voice and her voice can become our voice.

Likewise, the climate crisis is sweeping away our history thereby making our society become less safe for women and girls to exercise their rights. The beginning of a history starts with once upon a time which tells you if a history is made or cancelled. Once upon a time when women were kings and rulers of their communities but in our world today, it is seen as a taboo or arward. Nevertheless, we can change this narrative and bring back the cancelled history if only our society can create a safe place for women and girls to exercise their rights. It is possible that the first female president or governor will emerge from this university then history will be made because making history can create a narrative of what a society should look like. You can be the voice your society needs. The climate crisis makes us a slave of our own right - thereby negotiating for it. What we could adapt now, was never part of our history. I know women to be resilient enough and could use their indigenous knowledge to transform our society. Sometimes I wonder how we got here, struggling for our rights. Like bearing the brunt of the climate crisis such as the drought, flood and heatwave. The danger of a cancelled history is that it erases the normal reality and brings in a new reality that distorts our rights. The climate crisis provides an enabling environment for a cancelled history. We want a society where our constitution will have a feminine face. I believe gender equality is not against anyone’s religion or tradition so we need to rethink it.

                Oladosu Adenike award at Nile University of Nigeria.

Also, child marriage is neither a protection nor is it a financial solution – it is a denial of her rights. Breaking the bias is a way of rewriting our story that – women make history, history doesn’t make women. Likewise, my fight for the restoration of Lake Chad is also a fight to strengthen women’s rights through access to resources such as land and water that will ease their everyday burden and increase democracy in the region and beyond. Sometimes I wonder how long it will take to achieve gender equality – 1year, one decade, or a century? Being disadvantaged twice comes from the fact that women are at the frontline of the impacts of climate change but yet are left behind when decisions in proffering solutions that matter to our equal rights are taken.According to the UN Women report, it says “it will take women 135 years to close the gap” that means that it will take more than a century to get climate justice because there is no climate justice without gender justice because justice for one will become justice for all. A sustainable world is possible if only we can integrate women as part of the solution.

By OladosuAdenike – The Ecofeminist, peace and green democracy advocate.

Writes from Lake Chad region of West Africa.















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