Happy International Women's Day!
To celebrate International Women’s Day we're shining a light on some of the amazing women at Eco Brixs and explaining why it’s more important now, more than ever, to empower women in order to tackle climate change!
It is widely accepted that climate change disproportionately affects women with 80% of the people displaced by climate change being women according to the UN. This is because women are the primary caregivers and make up the majority of the agricultural workforce so when climate disasters strike, such as drought and flooding, they are impacted the hardest. Maternal mortality increases, child marriage rates increase and with high barriers to access credit or alternative job opportunities, it’s much harder for women to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
So, what are we doing at Eco Brixs to help empower girls and women to tackle climate change?
Education is central in the fight against climate change and educating girls ranks as number 6 of the 100 most powerful solutions to tackle global warming. Educated girls are more likely to be economically and politically empowered, and less likely to be forced into early marriage to bear children. Lower fertility can lead to healthier, more secure families, and can reduce emissions well into the future. Perhaps most importantly, an educated girl is equipped with the skills to withstand and overcome the shocks of extreme weather events and changing weather cycles.
At Eco Brixs, we’re continuing to educate girls through our Plastics For Education programme. Since 2017, we've built 31 Eco Clubs and educated over 900 pupils across Uganda about the importance of environmental protection.
Our educational programme includes an introduction to the Eco Brixs circular economic model, the dangers of plastic, and a practical workshop to empower students to become change-makers within their own communities. They get hands-on by making upcycled plastic waste collection bins and once they've filled them with their plastic waste, our team collects them and exchanges the plastic for payment, which is then recycled!
The majority of women in rural Uganda are in traditional household roles, spending over 7.5 hours per day on unpaid care work and remain financially dependent on others. Women have been shown to invest more money back into their families and communities but without financial independence, it's incredibly difficult for women to make informed choices, both for themselves and for their children.
At the heart of the Eco Brixs mission is creating sustainable green jobs, particularly for those who face barriers to accessing employment, including women and people with disabilities. By enabling anyone in the community to deliver plastic waste to us at any time, we are offering women access to employment that can importantly fit around their existing responsibilities.
We’re really proud that 50% of our team are women and as we grow, we’re focused on developing capacity within our team from the ground up.
Regina, the self-proclaimed ‘Mother of Recycling’ first joined Eco Brixs in 2017 to provide day to day support to the team. She is now a full-time finance officer and this month has been taking part in the Uganda Green Enterprise Finance Accelerator in Kampala:
“Eco Brixs has helped me so much. I now know how to balance the books, receipting and accountability processes. My whole family are in a good situation now. We have electricity, food daily and treatment is available when children are sick. I can now solve my personal problems.”
3. ADVOCACY AND LEADERSHIP
Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a wave of young female activists demanding climate action, with Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate hitting headlines last year after being cropped out of an image at Davos with Greta Thunberg. The global pandemic has shown the importance of female leadership and research highlights that countries with a high representation of women in parliament are more likely to ratify international environment treaties. We're continuing to advocate and encourage female leadership at Eco Brixs, with Sarah launching our Planet Youth campaign, an online movement designed to encourage young Ugandans to share and create ideas to protect planet earth via social media. Sarah, who's currently studying Conservation Forestry and Products Technology at Makerere University, is passionate about advocating for both women's engagement and the environment:
"Considering the dire situation our environment is in today, the inadequacy of opportunities for women engagement in policy-making and environmentalism can not be ruled out as a contributing factor. So as we move forward, empowering women and girls, intentionally involving them, fairly distributing opportunities in regards to climate action will be a great move in our fight against climate change and other global challenges." - Sarah
4. COLLABORATIVE ACTION
Of course empowering women wouldn't be possible without the support of men and a big thank you to all those who continue to support and advocate for gender equality.
The Eco Brixs men have kindly agreed to cook lunch for the women on site today rather than the other way around - thanks boys!!