By Sharon Atieno

As the world prepares to mark International Women’s Day on 8th March, 2020, 16 women activists are being honoured for their efforts to confront the world’s climate crisis and to restore the ecosystems that are crucial for the well-being of not only women and girls but families.

The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF)’s inaugural list of 16 Women restoring the Earth, acknowledges and celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and their unceasing efforts for gender equality.

Drawing from the fields of finance, landscape restoration, food and livelihoods security, and from across generations, communities and regions- the 16 women include: Inger Andersen, Julie Becker, Jolene Marie Cholock-Rotinsulu, Fe Cortez, Amy Duchelle, Joselyn Dumas, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Wanjira Mathai, Jennifer Morris, Constance Okollet, Autumn Peltier, Lina Pohl, Jennifer Pryce, Jo Puri, Alexandria Villaseñor and Janene Yazzie.

Worldwide, women are working hard each day to feed their families in the face of devastating climate change, said Okollet, chairperson for the Osukuru United Women’s Network (OWN) in Eastern Uganda.

“Being included on the GLF list is an honor and a chance to talk about how climate change is hurting so many women and families,” said Okollet. “But if we keep talking, things will change slowly and we will have food, year in, year out. The children will eat.”

Despite a majority of the world’s poor being women, they carry the highest burden of climate change impacts. Women’s unequal participation in decision-making processes and labour markets increases inequalities and often prevent s them from fully contributing to climate-related planning, policy-making and implementation.

There must also be adjustments to organizations and states because too often, rights are recognized legally but cannot be implemented on the ground due to traditions, cultural or social norms, said Iliana Monterroso, scientist and co-coordinator of gender and social inclusion research at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

 “It is not only about having rights, but ensuring rights gained are secured…(we must) identify other structural problems of power and inequity that influence implementation and outcomes.”

This year’s theme for the International Women’s Day is:  I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.