A word from Maiysha Moin, previous One Girl Ambassador and climate activist.
The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.
It’s funny how some quotes plant themselves in the back of your mind and a couple of years later, sprout into seedlings. Sarah Ban Breathnach’s famous quote was one I actually found whilst learning to become a One Girl Ambassador back in 2017. Fast forward two years, and here I am, a young environmental activist making my dream of a clean energy future a reality.
Hey there legend, I’m Maiysha, a former One Girl Ambassador (2017 and 2018) and one of the lead organisers of Melbourne School Strike 4 Climate. Last year, Malala Yousafazi came to Melbourne, holding an interview with Annabelle Crabb; during the evening Malala spoke about the intersection between girls’ education and climate change, and since I had just MCed the first November strikes a month before, I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation!
Though I don’t remember word for word what Malala shared with us that insightful evening, throughout my investigations into tackling the climate crisis, I realised that educating girls is an overwhelmingly powerful tactic to address the issue. So here are the five ways educating girls can tackle climate change!
1. An educated girl is more likely to have fewer and healthier children
At school, girls (and boys!) receive the good ol’ sex ed class – sexual and reproductive health and rights education. These classes are a way for girls to learn about family planning so that later in life, they can apply these principles to exercise their right to choose when to start a family and to choose how many children they will have. Since the climate emergency, what we’re facing now is anthropogenic (a fancy word meaning induced by humans), so maintaining a small and healthy population size is key to averting climate change. Emissions are produced by our demand for food, transport, electricity and goods – so the lower the demand, the more emissions we can cut.
All participants in One Girl’s programs receive some form of sexual health education – whether in or out of school. So by becoming a One Girl Ambassador, you’re providing one of the most important demographics with the skillset to fight climate change!
2. Schooling encourages girls to become leaders
There is nothing more powerful than knowing that you matter. Girls feel valued, equal, and that they matter by having an empowering education. One Girl’s report, ‘Who are you calling vulnerable?’ mirrors this, elucidating that girls feel more confident to speak up in school and within their communities, and also more likely to be encouraged to participate in family decision-making opportunities. Education provides young girls with a voice. A voice that doesn’t just shout, but leads others through the climate emergency to a clean energy future.
Research from the UNFCCC shows that women’s participation in the political system helps to cross party and ethnic lines to sustain peace – woo! This cooperation, compounded with women’s understanding of sustainable resource management, allows them to deliver improved outcomes for climate-related projects. In addition (phew, look how great leadership is!), women in leadership roles are more likely to better consider the needs of women and children in responses to climate disasters. Ambassadors – you can literally save a community by educating girls!
3. Education equips girls with resilience to tackle climate change and its disasters
Climate change will not affect everyone equally, and unfortunately, women will be disproportionately affected by climate-related disasters, especially those reliant on natural resources or living in poverty.
Education allows each generation to progress and learn the mind-blowing technology of the day. Since women have traditionally been responsible for energy and domestic needs, access to knowledge about clean energy technologies such as solar power, waste management (who would’ve thought that gas from animal waste can be used for fuel?) and improved water systems, these small choices can all add up. Imagine if every household in a community practised these great initiatives! We can easily reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural resources just by sending girls to school!
4. Schools can teach sustainable agricultural practices and natural stewardship
Across the big wide world, 80% of all agricultural work is actually undertaken by women (yeah the girls!). So sending girls to school can help educate agricultural communities to practice more sustainable methods such as permaculture, crop rotation and phasing out pesticides – reducing emissions and growing healthier and more nutritious food for everyone. Win win!
Keep your eye out for more information about One Girl’s new pilot program which will give girls access to smarter farming practices and empower them to become excellent stewards of the environment. All the lessons the girls learn through One Girl’s Scholarship program will be handed down to their future children and so on; teaching generation after generation.
5. Girls can enter the emerging green tech and renewables market
I’m having too much fun here – and for a good reason too! It’s a no-brainer that education directly increases a woman’s chance of getting employed and earning a high income. With a ginormous boom in green technology and renewables, this industry poses a fantastic and fruitful opportunity for women to find impactful work. The girls you educate through the One Girl program are better equipped to enter new exciting and emerging markets!
In tropical Uganda, One Girl’s Business Brains program is jam-packed with action, now investigating how to train girls for green tech, solar and other renewable technologies. The future looks very bright – so bright you’ll need sunnies.
Now it’s your time to shine – be the change you want to see by becoming a One Girl Ambassador. You can play a great role in tackling climate change just by empowering girls with an education. Investing in a girl? It’s a no-brainer.