BRINGING WOMEN’S VOICES TO THE CLIMATE TABLE
The Climate Sisters project emerged from the Feminist Green New Deal grassroots workshops, with women’s groups and community groups around the UK.
Two groups, SAWN, based in Manchester and a group of women based in Glasgow wanted more time and space to really explore their vision, concerns and needs for a green, safe and caring economy. They did this by creating an exhibition of creative works that were exhibited at COP26 in 2021 and at a Wen Forum event in 2022.
Insights gained from these workshops, along with roundtable events with policy makers, informed our series of Feminist Green New Deal policy papers and recommendations.
Read about the exhibition below:
Climate Sisters exhibition
SAWN (Support and Action Women’s Network) trains, educates and provides services for Black African women in Oldham, Manchester. Take a look at what the sisters have created.
The Dorothy Duvet project was created to address the disposable social construct of our society alongside the division of wealth between the global south and the global north. It takes the life of a duvet cover and shows how it can be kept from landfill whilst providing an income.
Dorothy’s Duvet project is a product of several SAWN Sisters: Karen, Audrey, Rose K, Dada, Fola, Mercy, Ruth, Joyce, Jovia, Lillian, Norah, Mary Ann, and Norma
Taking inspiration from their Mothers back home in Zimbabwe, Judith and Loice have chosen to show how a so called waste product can be turned into a an array of upcycled products, using a hessian bag to make sofa throws, blankets and mats. This also helps the animals around from being harmed by the discarded hessian sacks. This project addresses the disposable culture we live in and also how high welfare living goes hand in hand with climate friendly living, when unique one-off pieces can be used for beautiful interior design.
Hessian bag project: Judith and Loice
APPS & BIO FUEL
It was felt the there was a need for people to know how to find recycling centres and so this project set about to invent an app that would make this information easily accessible. Alongside this the three sisters on this project wanted to draw attention and again make the information of how to create biofuel accessible – using a process already in action in Uganda, where women rear pigs and turn the pig waste in to bio fuel. To do this the sisters are making a leaflet that will be shared on how this process works, translated into the dialects of the area.
Apps and biofuel project: Joy, Carol and Fola
OUR LIFE. OUR PLANET
Siphiwe has created a statement piece from reclaimed materials to showcase how human action changes the climate
Our life. Our planet project: Siphiwe
DIGITAL GENIUS PROJECT
Julie has documented each of the sisters projects as the project has developed, to capture the journey the sisters have been on and the many amazing creative pieces coming into life. Julie created a webpage for this.
Digital genius project: Julie
Climate Sisters featured on BBC Reporting Scotland – November 2021
NAHAWAND AL FARHAN
Nahawand is from Baghdad, Iraq where she obtained a degree in teaching and was a schoolteacher. Nahawand had never left Baghdad, had never travelled anywhere until 2010 when she and her family had to leave because of the unrest in her country. Since then, she has lived in Glasgow and devotes her time to teaching children and teachers which she enjoys passionately.
Nahawand’s idea for her project came about when she was thinking about waste materials and what could be created from the. Nahawand has used old bits of wood together with other recycled materials to create a sculpture to raise awareness of the harm that deforestation has caused our environment. Not only does it contribute to the abolition of animals’ habitats, but it also limits biodiversity and increases greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Nahawand’s goal with this piece is to encourage individuals to become passionate and educated about the wellbeing of the Earth. When people look at her artwork, she wants them to feel inspired and motivated to improve the state of the world for their children and the next generation. Nahawand would like her sculpture to be displayed prominently in a public space to highlight the endless possibilities that come with upcycling household materials into beautiful designs.
She wants society to not take our Earth’s wonderful environment for granted. Nahawand wishes that individuals can come together and unite to make a change and contribute to a good cause that will allow nature to flourish once again. A special appreciation to Berenice Berlan for her time, patience, and support as Nahawamd’s mentor.
Aniqah was born and brought up in Scotland, from an Indian-Pakistani Iranian heritage. Aniqah feel like she has been sheltered from, privileged to, and naïve of climate issues specifically those affecting people in other countries such as her ancestors’.
Aniqah is ashamed of the way the western world treats the environment, causes the issues and then tries to ‘educate’ the global south on these issues who are facing the mess of what the western world has driven. Since studying community education, Aniqah has become even more passionate about social justice issues. She is now learning how climate justice is a social justice cause and how race and gender inequalities are all interlinked. Aniqah believes there should be more education even in Scotland about climate justice as well as global warming as it will affect future generations. However, she really feels that it’s not up to future generations to sort. We must all act now.
Aniqah is grateful for this opportunity to interview people from diverse backgrounds in a series of podcasts as it gives women, who may not have an opportunity to be ‘given’ a voice, for our voices to be heard. With the help and knowledge of her mentor Paula Nino, a Colombian woman doing an international master’s degree at Glasgow University, Aniqah has been able to highlight issues of climate justice through her podcasts and she hopes to continue this series beyond COP26 to include an ever growing catalogue of diverse voices.
Amanda grew up in South Lanarkshire in the countryside and was very lucky to spend most of her life living in very scenic countryside areas. Growing up around nature is what made her appreciate the beauty of our earth and the need to protect it.
A big influence on Amanda’s interests in climate activism was her mum, passing down knowledge Amanda started making a conscious effort to do her part too. She always felt passionate about recycling and keeping our planet clean, but it wasn’t until she started working with Gilded Lily in 2019 and took part in the Climate Leadership Course that she truly started to learn about these issues in detail and how we can tackle them. Amanda has been a musician since she was 14 years old and started playing professionally 2015 using her stage name ‘Sadie Marie’. Amanda has never written a song about climate change before and this is also her first music video, this project has challenged her in many ways and grateful for the opportunity.
Amanda really hopes her song ‘This World Is On Fire’ makes people think about the throw-away culture that we have adopted and to treat the planet more kindly by using what we already have. She hopes that the video conveys how much “stuff” we throw away and how there is no need for the amount of rubbish in landfills etc. Amanda’s mentor Zhanna Kugotova provided invaluable support in her guidance and support with the music video. Amanda would like to see this song becoming an anthem for COP26.
Susy is from El Salvador and came to Scotland in 2019 with her 3 sons as an asylum seeker to escape the violence and corruption they were facing in her home country. Susy was a hairdresser in El Salvador and ran a successful hairdressing business for many years. Susy is a talented artist who has used single use plastic and other non-recycle plastics to create a decoration of art piece and jewellery.
Susy wants to show how you can make beautiful things instead of throwing away items. Too much plastic is in our oceans and affecting the fish and what we eat. Susy wants to highlight this issue so that people learn to reuse plastic and not throw away as rubbish. She has seen a film about the Great Pacific garbage patch and it really upset her that we, humans, are causing so much rubbish and killing the sea life. Susy has seen the beaches of El Salvador covered in plastic which has travelled across the ocean. Susy wants to try to help other people to understand the damage that plastic is causing to the fish and to climate change.
Through this exhibition Susy would really like to start a business providing kits to inspire others to make jewellery pieces and she would like to make bespoke pieces for special occasion for gifts.
Meray is a Cypriot filmmaker based in Glasgow. Identity, environmental and social justice, peacebuilding in post-conflict has been the recurring themes in her films. She has been influenced by places and situations that humans normalise and tries to explore them from a different perspective.
Meray has produced a short experimental film/documentary that explores the impact of current activities that contribute to climate change.
‘Mission: 2121’ is a short Sci-Fi film showing 100 years ahead of now if we don’t act and look after our planet and peatlands in Scotland. The aim is also to show the species growing in peatlands and how important they are as others from other planets come to collect them.
Meray would like to thank Zhanna Kugotova for her support with editing.
Meray’s hope are that this film and films like these can be used in schools as an educational resource and encourage more people to understand the impacts of climate change on our planet.
Heather is a 47 year old married mum of two young people. She worked for a supermarket for 21 years, a certain one that had a lot of customers who wouldn’t understand what food insecurities mean. Heather herself has experienced food insecurity as a family, but not to the same extent as people are facing now.
Since she started working at Gilded Lily a year ago, she has seen how food is entwined into our culture. Talking about it or eating a meal we have cooked at the same time (perhaps on zoom) brings all people together, bonding over something we all need and enjoy. The benefits of having a garden are more than food security, it’s a chance to be proud of an achievement, it gets you back in touch with the soil. Reminding us of where our food comes from and the work it takes to get it makes us appreciate it.
Heather teamed up with her friend Menesia who felt the same about food and the benefits of growing to make a mobile garden. Having a garden that was accessible was paramount to Heather, she wanted anyone to be able to use it, and be able to keep everything together. Thanks to Scott at Galgael, our design changed and became so much better.
Heather’s hope is to make more mobile gardens, or to help other groups build their own as they are simple to assemble and work beautifully.
Born and brought up in Luderitz, Namibia, Menesia is deeply passionate about climate change and community development. She comes from a country that has all the natural resources to address climate change, food security and poverty. The wind and sun in her Kharas region which is where she resided can provide energy to the whole of Namibia.
Menesia wishes she could do something to save Mother Earth from the poor decisions taken which are not beneficial for the poor and needy in society. What she wants to stand together and get our leaders accountable for their decisions otherwise we will never be able to reverse the effects of greenhouse gasses and burning fossil fuels. She came to Glasgow with the eagerness to make positive changes and building this mobile garden from pallets and reusable materials shows anything is possible if you want a positive, sustainable change in your community. Menesia is a staff nurse and midwife by profession but is now studying Community Development at University of Glasgow to study Community Development. I also want a video to show the steps how me and my Scottish friend Heather Dundas have made our “Garden on Wheels”
Farkhonda better known as Farah has been living in Glasgow since 2018. Currently, she is studying Business and IT. Farah took part in an online climate change leadership programme which made her look at the current climate crisis from a different perspective and take a step towards protecting the environment.
Farah was always upset about the throwaway culture and decided to start her project under the heading of “Fighting Throw Away Culture’’ with the main focus on waste of appliances. Electronics and white goods are not typically the first thing that comes to the mind, and we don’t look beyond the seemingly innocent “white cube”. But they contain chemical and toxic compounds which contaminate the land and water.
Through Farah’s hobby of photography, she reminds us of the hazards of electronics to both us humans and to our planet. Farah then moves to illustrate some solutions for this growing problem.
Farah has been helped by her mentor Mariana Pintado-Zurita, a student at University of Glasgow from Mexico, to illustrate and display the photographs in a way best to discuss this climate crisis.
Farah aims to use her academic knowledge to build a career which will benefit the environment and puts an end to the throw-away culture.
Monica lives in Glasgow, Scotland. She moved to the United Kingdom 11 years ago. Last year, Monica did a course on Climate Change Leadership. During the course, she learned many things about climate change. In the process, Monica became more curious to know about the effects of climate change. Since then, she has been reading articles about this topic.
She believes it is up to an individual to deliver what they are capable of. Monica’s interest and skills are IT and Data and she wanted to create an impactful escape room game which states a clear message of possible things that can be adopted to contribute to the fight. Personally, she has taken an oath to be a part of this fight. Monica takes inspiration from people around her who have successfully made a change in themselves. The game will focus on how a family decides to make small changes in their day to day lives to fight climate change.
This escape room will consist of puzzles, quizzes, and various challenges and most importantly FUN. This can be played individually as well as with family. Monica’s hope is that voices of local woman like us will be heard across the world through this COP 26, Glasgow.
Simran was born brought up in Glasgow but has strong ties to Punjab as both her maternal and paternal grandparents are Punjabi Sikh immigrants. Simran has recently started studying at University of Glasgow, but environmental issues are an important part of her life.
Coming from a family heritage that has strong roots in organic farming for livelihood, she has a personal and emotional connection to environmental sustainability with regards to our food systems. In this current climate when Indian farmers are being exploited and protesting to fight unjust legislation, we must raise our voices and stand with them, as their livelihoods affect us all.
Simran’s creative project involves looking deeper into the consequences of government legislation to organic farming in India, and its wider relation to environmental sustainability. She has developed an environmentally friendly piece of art, The World is Wa that represents her view on this topic by creating 12 panels, one for each month of the farmers’ protests.
Simran believes this exhibition is a wonderful and exciting platform to give young, diverse, aspiring artists like herself, the opportunity to showcase their skills and develop their confidence, especially being a young, Sikh, South Asian girl.
Simran’s hopes for her artwork to be displayed in public settings so that she can raise awareness of social justice issues linked to the climate crisis.
Simran was mentored by Chrisilia Philiastides, another student at University of Glasgow.
Khabat Malarasheed born in Syria. Since her childhood she has been fascinated by nature, so she started to draw her world in words. Khabat has shared her poems at different festivals and events in her country.
Her journey started when she was imagining the rain and hearing the sound of the wind, she felt pleasure and her pen started to write poetry. Since she has been in Glasgow, Khabat loves exploring the natural environment and has started to think of the ways in which we protect our environment. Her immigration journey of immigration from country to country eventually to Glasgow has shown her the differences in the changing climates of countries.
She wants to raise her voice and say that we all have a responsibility to protect the environment and the world together. For this exhibition Khabat is sharing her poem “Through My flowers”
Khabat would like to thank her mentor Alibhe Harrison, a student at the University of Glasgow, for all her support.
Sajida is a mother of two and a daughter of migrants from Pakistan. Her passion has been fashion and textiles, and from a young age has been behind a sewing machine creating many masterpieces. Sajida, for this exhibition, has designed and created a ball gown dress using discarded denim and tartan, giving old fabrics a new lease of life.
While researching for her climate leadership presentation, she learned a lot about the huge negative impact textile and fashion production has on the climate. Sajida wants to highlight through her exhibition piece, what we don’t see in a finished garment, is how the different processes layer up and are causing pollution. These layers include water, air and land pollution. In particular Sajida is concerned that those that are being impacted the most from fast fashion are women of colour in the poorest places and yet no one talks about what’s happening to them or their families.
Sajida valued the support and talks on climate justice with Marsha Burke who is studying music at Glasgow University.
Sajida would like to see this dress worn by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon who stands for both gender and climate justice.
Born and raised in Namibia, Nguatjitavi came to Glasgow three years ago for her own safety and security. Nguatjitavi has no family in Glasgow, and it has been difficult to connect to people here because of the restrictions imposed because of Covid.
Prior to starting this project Nguatjitavi knowledge of climate change was limited. However, she started to learn new things through the climate change leadership course and was able to express her skills and talents and whilst doing so she found out more about climate change and her knowledge expanded. Through research she conducted, she discovered numerous ways that we, as individuals, can help in the battle against fossil fuels. In addition, she realised government and corporations aren’t doing enough. There are variety of different ways, new and old, to help overcome this challenge, from the most technically advanced solar panels to the good old fashioned washing line. Every action big or small will help bring about meaningful change. If everyone does their bit it will help the planet, ensuring that future generations can walk after us.
Nguatjitavi would like to give a special thanks to her mentors Eadan McSweeney from University of Glasgow and Paula Nino (for helping to edit the video).
HONORARY CLIMATE SISTER – ZHANNA KUGOTOVA
Zhanna has become an honorary climate sister as she has been on the journey with the whole project and the other women capturing on film our events, trips and special moments, she’s been with us step by step. In addition, as a mentor Zhanna created the soundscape for the piece with Meray Diner and created the music video for Amanda Bogle. Zhanna has also contributed with footage to assist the film maker Catherine Dunn.
Zhanna is a Russian sound artist and filmmaker. Having worked in post-production sound for film and TV in NYC, she is currently based in Glasgow where she continues her experiments with sound design — expanding her work beyond the screen into interactive audio-visual installations.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND THANKS
This project was made possible by a team of people behind the scenes providing funds, advice, mentors, opportunities, promotion, venues and words of encouragement. A special thanks and much gratitude to
Kate Metcalf and team at Wen (Women’s Environmental Network)
Sophie Long at Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust
Nicola Banks at Care International
Mark Banks and Casi Dylan, University of Glasgow
Beth Christie and Catherine Dunn, University of Edinburgh
Gilded Lily CIC
Ahl Al Bait Society
The Whiteinch Centre
Scott at Glagael