Travel Notebook

WECAN International

Dr. Samantha Joye spends her days exploring and protecting our earth’s deep blue oceans. Dr. Flower Msyua is pioneering new technology to guarantee seaweed farming jobs for women on the coast of Zanzibar. Karletta Chief, a hydrologist and indigenous woman of the Diné (Navajo) Bitter Water Clan, is ensuring the quality of water on the Navajo Nation of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.

These are just a few of the remarkable women I’ve read about since learning of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International.  As our world and its climate patterns are being visibly altered during our generation, we must make real and workable change for the generations yet to come. My affiliation with Ethical Traveler and my new knowledge of WECAN give me hope that this change can be affected if passionate, dedicated women come together, whether we live in the flood-prone seismic zone of Chepdu, India, in Map Ta Phut, Thailand, where toxic water sources are contributing to severe health risks or the wildfire-prone regions of southern California.

WECAN Women of the Democratic Republic of Congo
WECAN Women of the Democratic Republic of Congo lead a local reforestation program. Photo credit:

Founder and Executive Director Osprey Orielle Lake envisioned WECAN as a “solutions-based, multi-faceted effort … to engage women worldwide to take action as powerful stakeholders in climate change and sustainability solutions.” The window for meaningful action on climate change, sadly, will not be open for long. Lake and her team hope to accelerate holistic climate action through the protection and defense of the earth’s diverse ecosystems and communities, saving ourselves and our planet from the systematic destruction of our home planet and the undermining of the vital cycles of the living Earth.

So why women? Multiple studies have shown us that women’s bodies are more susceptible to the dangerous levels of toxic pollution. As women, and the carriers of the next generations, we are the most impacted by and passing along severe environmental health issues. And yet … every day, we see that women have the essential ideas and skills to turn the tide, and to make the crucial changes and decisions about how we are living with the Earth and one another.

WECAN and allies present a Frontline Women’s Press Conference inside of UN COP21 climate negotiations. Photo credit:

WECAN and other organizations worldwide have long recognized that women are critical to implementing climate change, and yet there are not currently enough prominent platforms to wield a united effort. WECAN hopes to bring together women’s organizations from around the globe and many sectors in an attempt to join together and take effective action. They are hoping to capitalize on the fact that, in many countries, it is women who get out and vote, and vote more often – and often lead on environmental and social legislation when elected to public office. Furthermore, it has been shown that women are one of the most vital actors in peacemaking.

WECAN invites all women (and men) to join them on September 11, 2018 at the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in San Francisco, a gathering of policymakers from across the United States and worldwide. The summit is hoping to encourage even more action to achieve the aims of the Paris Climate Accord.

In WECAN’s words, “Recognizing an important political moment to apply pressure and stand for justice, the global movement for climate justice will also engage with a strong presence – holding actions and events, and organizing to build our power collectively. The climate justice movement will be working to expose greenwashing and false climate solutions, and to at the same time support and demonstrate the many effective, community-based solutions being put into action every day by people worldwide. We will call for real climate leadership for a just transition to renewable energy that breaks free from the fossil fuel industry and supports workers and communities. We will rise to ensure that the voices of those most marginalized and impacted by climate disruption and extractive economies are heard within the high-level forums that will take place during GCAS.”

Participants will have the chance to engage at the summit with WECAN, who will be on the ground in-action and in solidarity with diverse allies from the global movement for climate justice throughout the week leading up to and during the Global Climate Action Summit.

Please join them, if you can, for their September 11th public forum – “Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice: Women Leading Solutions on the Frontlines of Climate Change” – and march with them on September 8th as part of “Women for Climate Justice Contingents” in San Francisco, or in your home community.

If this hasn’t inspired you enough, consider Autumn Peltier, a 13-year-old Anishinaabe girl, and nominee for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Autumn has been tirelessly advocating for clean drinking water for her community, Canada’s Wikwemikong First Nation. This passionate, forward-thinking young woman follows in her aunt Josephine Mandamin’s footsteps, who in 2016 received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation. For Autumn, for this generation and for the next, women will rise on the frontlines of climate change.