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Powerful Women Protecting Our Planet


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BBC Radio 4 recently revealed its ‘Women’s Hour Power List’ for 2020. This year the radio 4 programme focused on women based in the UK who are making a positive contribution to the environment or the sustainability of our planet, in an attempt to showcase inspirational initiative stories that are influencing how we view climate change and can make changes to improve our ways of living at all levels of society.

Taking the top spot this year was Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas with environmental lawyer Farhana Yamin taking second place – she has been described by judges as a ‘powerhouse for climate justice’. The list celebrates women’s achievements in the environmental arena from five different categories: decision makers, innovators, communicators, campaigners, and volunteers. So, it is not just women in powerful offices getting recognition, although their work is clearly commendable.

Amongst the 30 women in the UK making the list, was 18-year-old Mya-Rose Craig and 17-year-old Zaqiya Cajee. Zaqiya who says ‘I do get climate anxiety’, focuses her campaigning on fast fashion and at the young age of 17 has started her own initiative known as ‘swop it up’, to help in regard to sustainable fashion by encouraging teenagers to swap second hand clothes in their schools. 

Another campaigner, Mikeaela Loach who also made the power list as the presenter of the ‘Yikes’ podcast, is also concerned about the effects of the climate crisis on minority groups. She said, “with the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the death of George Flloyd saying the words ‘I can’t breathe’, that resonated with so many black and brown communities because not only can we not breath because of systematic racism, we also cannot breath due to air pollution in our communities”, showing how unequally the climate crisis impacts different people in society. 

In an era dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, governments and ministers have put the issue of climate change on the back burner, with over half of 18-24 year olds believing that the challenges of climate change have been neglected by the government throughout the pandemic. However, this is not an issue that is going to go away and by honouring those women who have continued throughout COVID-19 to campaign to achieve environmental policy goals is both admirable and inspiring. 

The government do still have some plans such as the extender producer responsibility scheme for plastic waste by 2023 which will affect packaging items but, as Zaqiya Cajee rightfully points out we need to see this ‘develop more in terms of the way products are manufactured and delivered’.

So, whilst over the last 12 months there have been many obstacles in the way, it seems there are still many opportunities to help advocate change in the climate crisis and the 30 women on the women’s hour power list are just some examples of this. 

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