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Youth Voices, Unfiltered


Scroll through to see young people's take on the global climate emergency, and the work that they are doing to fight against climate change.
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Importance of Women Leadership in Fighting Climate Change By Hatim El Otmani

Importance of Women Leadership in Fighting Climate Change By Hatim El Otmani

Women are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change partly due to their increased exposure. In many areas of the world, they are responsible for managing the natural resources hence they are more aware of the degradation in their immediate environment and the need for increased conservation. According to the United Nations, 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. It has been proven that women’s ability to adapt to the demands of climate change depends on the extent of their control over economic resources and access to economic and financial resources.[1] This is why there is a need for equal gender representation in leadership roles, whether in business, politics, or at the local levels so that the women’s skills, resourcefulness, and leadership in mitigation and adaptation efforts can be tapped.

Some of the women who have held such critical leadership positions include Hellen Clark, former New Zealand Prime Minister who also served in the UNDP, and Bience Gawanas, who is a Namibian advocate and a Special Adviser on Africa in the United Nations. According to Clark (2010), women should be allowed to make decisions, elect officers, and participate in climate change leadership. [2] Ms. Gawanas, on her part, has been at the forefront of championing for women’s health and rights in Africa, which has earned her commendation for her role in initiating far-reaching campaigns.

There has also been an upsurge in the number of women in leadership positions that are aimed at fighting climate change. One such women is Catherine McKenna who has advocated for women leadership in fighting climate change. Catherine McKenna, who is a former Minister in charge of Climate Change in Canada, hosted a Climate Leaders’ Summit that was focused on the importance of involving women’s leadership in combating climate. McKenna indicated that all women, both young and old, are at higher risk of being affected by climate change hence they should be at the forefront of forming bold climate leadership across the world. The summit gathered women leaders across the globe with representatives from the civil society, academic, private, and public sectors.[3]

In New Zealand, Jacinta Ardern, who is the prime minister, passed legislation that protects the nation’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. The prime minister has been vocal about why the country should be carbon neutral. As a result, the Zero Carbon Bill is expected to set a zero target for all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The bill is also planned to create a Climate Change Commission which will be focused on steering the federal policy. Further, the Arden Administration is seeking to plant approximately 1 billion trees within a decade and ensure that renewable energy is used to produce electricity by 2035.[4] This position taken by Prime Minister Arden is quite different from the neighboring Australia which has a high dependence on fossil fuels and is also in the process of opening new coal mines. In 2019, Ardern warned the Australian government against dependence on coal stating that it was answerable to the Pacific because of its climate policy.[5]

On the sidelines the United General Assembly in 2019, the African Youth Climate Hub was launched by Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa of Morocco, who is also the President of the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection. Her Royal Highness has distinguished herself over the decades as a global woman leader who is keen on education for sustainable development. By launching the African Youth Climate Hub, she endeavored to provide an opportunity for young African leaders to establish and maintain a movement targeted at fighting climate change. The hub seeks to offer a space where the young Africans can come together and share ideas on possible solutions and also connect with other groups and organizations, which will amplify the climate change actions. Based in Rabat, Morocco, the hub aims at transforming ideas into reality by putting in place the requisite support mechanism and networks. This, according to the hub, will be achieved through establishing connections across borders, setting up knowledge and incubation centers, e-learning and green jobs.[6]

The fight against climate change has continued to intensify each year with women being at the forefront of conserving the environment. Women understand the primary requirements to change the current environmental conditions.

As a result, governments across the world should provide the resources required and eradicate the existing biases such as providing women with financial and technology resources, providing women with land rights, and allowing them to participate in political decision-making practices.

Through this, their capability and knowledge will be unleashed which is very critical and practical in fighting climate change.[7]


About the Author

Hatim El Otmani has a master’s degree in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development from the Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco. He is passionate about sustainable development, youth, and Agenda 2063.

He is currently working as project manager for the National Erasmus+ Offices in Morocco and remains strongly involved in community life and civil society programs as president and founder of Atlas For Development. in 2018 he won the UN SDG Action CAMPAIGN Award in the mobilization category.



1. UN Women Watch(2009). Women and Climate Change Factsheet Retrieved on 24 May, 2020 from

2. Clark, H. (2010). Helen Clark: Inclusion and Equality: Why Women’s Leadership Matters. Retrieved 24 May 2020, from

3. Women leaders come together to fight climate change. (2019). Retrieved 24 May 2020, from

4. The Diplomat(2019). New Zealand Takes the Lead on Climate Change. Retrieved 24 May 2020, from

5. The Guardian(2019). Jacinda Ardern says Australia has to 'answer to Pacific' on climate change. Retrieved on 24 May 2020, from

6. Launch of major new African youth initiative to tackle climate change(2019). Retrieved 24May, 2020, from

7. World Economic Forum (2019). We can solve climate change – if we involve women. Retrieved 24 May 2020, from

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Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth supports all young people and their diversity in exercising their right to freedom of expression. Reach Not Preach platform serves as a safe space for all young people to share their take on the topic of climate change. The views expressed in the Reach Not Preach platform are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the United Nations Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth and the United Nations.

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