On 15th June 2023, the International Gender Champions Secretariat held its second Lunch and Learn event, focusing on the theme ‘Driving Radical Change: Reclaiming Ecofeminist Perspectives.’
Moderated by Cara Au, a master’s student in international development at the Geneva Graduate Institute currently interning at the International Gender Champions Secretariat, the event featured two speakers: Elise Buckle, Co-founder and CEO of SHE Changes Climate, and Stephen Bright Sakwa, Co-founder and Director of Bees and Trees in Uganda. They shed light on the interconnectedness of environmental exploitation and the oppression of women and other marginalized groups, and how these intersect with other forms of oppression.
Buckle emphasized the importance of involving men in the conversation, while suggesting that the term "ecofeminism" might potentially deter men from engaging in the dialogue. She stressed that “when women thrive, the whole of society thrives”, and called for reframing the climate debate: “women should not be viewed solely as victims but as agents of change and champions of resilience”.
Buckle also underscored the crucial role of gender parity in decision-making processes emphasizing that countries with higher female representation in parliament tend to adopt stronger climate change legislation. In line with this, SHE Changes Climate advocates 50-50 gender representation at all levels of climate-related decision-making and invites party delegations to endorse a 50-50 pledge, with Finland and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) being among the first to sign. She further emphasized the importance of “not only including women at decision-making tables but also ensuring that they are given a voice.”
Meanwhile, Bright highlighted the impact of gender roles shaped by society on women's involvement in climate issues. He emphasized that women play a pivotal role in the defense of nature and therefore should “be at the forefront of climate discussions.” Bright called for a comprehensive approach that integrates top-down and bottom-up initiatives to addressing the gender imbalance in climate discussions and highlighted his role as an ambassador of the SHE Changes Climate initiative to demonstrate the importance of male allies in driving change.
He noted that by empowering women in climate action and placing them in positions of influence, “we can harness their expertise and insights to drive meaningful change.”
Event attendees highlighted the importance of promoting inclusivity in addressing environmental challenges to create a more sustainable, equitable future for all.
This event, held by the International Gender Champions Secretariat, was part of the IGC 'Lunch and Learn' series, which aims to foster interactions between the IGC community, experts, academics, and activists. It is supported by a grant from the US Mission and serves as a platform for dialogue and knowledge exchange. The event is open to IGC focal points, Champions and the broader audience, including students, researchers, and policymakers.