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#16DaysActivism: Opposing the Climate Crisis is a Stand against Gender-based Violence

Environmental deterioration and the climate crisis are contributing factors to gender-based violence. When it comes to environmental resistance groups, women and gender minorities are particularly vulnerable to violence. When they defend their homes, communities, lands, means of subsistence, and ecosystems that are essential to biodiversity and the climate, they face threats, intimidation, attacks, or even death.

On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Gender Minorities, we want to recognise this scourge and stress once more that there can be no Climate Justice without Gender Justice.

Every year, the UNITE Campaign focuses on a specific theme and this year’s is “UNITE! Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls”. The campaign calls on citizens to show how much they care about ending violence against women and girls by sharing the actions they are taking to create a world free from violence towards women. This year's campaign also calls on governments worldwide to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention.

There has never been a more pressing climate issue than there is right now. 85% of all people have already experienced the effects of climate change, whether it be from floods, droughts, forest fires, excessive heat, or even unusually cold spells, according to recent research published in Nature Climate Change. There is a surge in the violent attacks and assassinations of environmental and land rights campaigners, and the movements of resistance against pollution and extractivism are stronger than ever.

With 227 official findings, the most current report from Global Witness revealed a record amount of defender assassinations that were reported in 2020. The victims’ range in profile from farmers, lawyers, journalists, activists, doctors, and employees of non-profit organizations to concerned citizens who organize their neighborhood against the destruction of their houses by mining, drilling, logging, or intensive agriculture. The figures have increased over the three years.

Global Witness’ research shows that these lethal attacks are met with blatant impunity in 95% of the cases. Not only are powerful industries and politicians not held accountable for the material damage they cause to climate and biodiversity, they also benefit from legal protection, resulting in a horrifying vicious cycle of perpetual violence.

In actuality, violence against women and girls is on the rise everywhere due to the effects of climate change. In addition to murder, rape, imprisonment, and extortion are frequently employed as forms of repression against female environmental defenders. An increasing amount of research is highlighting the connection between gender-based violence and environmental degradation.

Patriarchal societies have a tendency of ignoring, minimising and silencing the voices of women and gender minorities. Their active resistance against polluting, extractivist projects represents a double threat to the status quo: not only are they publicly denouncing existing power dynamics by challenging these destructive actors, the act of publicly speaking out is in itself also an act of rebellion, thus tackling the patriarchal system at its core. Nevertheless, all around the world, women and gender minorities remain at the frontline of environmental resistance.

Today, women are utilizing their voices to take the lead and push for action on climate change everywhere they go—from boardrooms and policy positions to local communities, from science to activism.

In Kebetkache, we’re fighting so that the valuable contribution by these women activist is acknowledged as well as to protect their lives, their right to be leaders and to live with dignity in their communities. As a result, we work together with community groups that are experts in the field so that they can be trained to prevent violence, self-defense and to protect their communities. Moreover, we support their demands and emphasize their situation, both nationally and internationally. But this is not enough.

The struggle for a healthy and peaceful planet inherently requires equity and respect for all who live on it. Environmental destruction cannot be fought without fighting sexism and the violence associated with it: they are two sides of the same coin.

Join the global movement with the #NoExcuse campaign calling for urgent investments to prevent violence against women and girls.

We need an ecofeminist revolution Now!

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