Women Take On Climate Change.
On Dec.12,2015, the Paris sky is alive with thousands of brightly
painted signs: “Urgence Climatique!” (Climate Emergency!), “Le Pétrole
Tue!” (Oil Kills!), “Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground!” Despite a ban on
protests in the wake of the November terrorist attacks, the signs are borne by
a wave of 15,000 marchers filling the Avenue de la Grande Armée, the Arc de
Triomphe towering behind. I walk next to a group of women of diverse ethnicities and ages, part of a delegation of front-line community activists from
the United States. The march is joyous and boisterous, more street party than
protest, as the sounds of drums, cheers and song fill the air.
“This is going to be a big moment in history,” a beaming 18-year-old,
Rossmery Zayas of Southeast Los Angeles, tells me, tears welling in her eyes.
“I’m so honored to be a part of it!”
Barely 10 miles away at Le Bourget conference center, representatives of 195
nations are exchanging handshakes and hugs as they sign the United Nations
Paris climate agreement, the farthest-reaching global commitment to reduce carbon emissions to date. Yet this is not the history-making moment to
which Rossmery refers.
Opinions vary on the overall success of the agreement, with those living
on the front lines of fossil fuel operations and the climate crisis generally
the most critical....[cut]
[continues] ...The good news is that tens of thousands of women were in Paris—as activists, advocates, policy experts and protesters. Some sought to influence negotiators; all came to meet, strategize and build an unstoppable global movement for climate justice. It is this movement to which Rossmery was referring, for just 13 days earlier, more than half a million people took to the streets in 175 nations demanding immediate climate action. On Dec. 12, Rossmery and the other marchers in Paris celebrated all that this movement would achieve going forward.
I had the privilege of interviewing dozens of women in Paris, and I share
four of their personal stories here: one from Africa, one from the Middle East,
two from the United States; lifelong activists and newcomers. Fortunately for
us, Paris is just one stop along their activist journeys.
“If you’re like me and you feel panicked about what to do,” instructs Ariel
Ross of Stillwater, Oklahoma, “a good thing to do is find someone who is already doing something, and try to help.”... [cut] [continues]
Read the whole article in the Spring 2016 issue of Ms. Magazine, available March 29. More information here: http://msmagazine.com/spring2016/index.asp