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Climate Justice is Gender Justice: Reflections from #COP21

FRIDA advisors Alina Saba and Ayesha Constable attended the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (#COP21) that was held in Paris in December 2015. Here they pen their experience as young feminist activists at a critical global forum. To know more about FRIDA’s advisory committee, click here

One of the first things we noticed and experienced at COP21 in Paris was that gender was a ‘hot button’ issue there. The discussions on gender ranged from its inclusion in Article 2 of the agreement to the inclusion of ‘gender responsiveness’ in the finance and technology components. The Women and Gender Constituency (WGC), one of the key stakeholder groups of the The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), provides opportunities for civil society and non-governmental organizations which work for women’s rights and gender justice, environmental protection, or both, to influence the annual conferences and contribute to the UNFCCC.

This year, the WGC was especially vocal and deliberate in its efforts to bring attention to the vulnerability of women and indigenous groups to climate change. Women articulated their demand for a gendered response to climate change and called for ‘system change’ as a means of addressing it. System change should challenge the current economic and political systems that perpetuate gender injustice. Kate Lappin, Regional Coordinator of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), asserted that the current global economic structure depends on the inequality between men and women. Some activists called for an overhaul of the structure of the UNFCCC, pointing at the skewed ratio of men to women in the leadership of the organisation as a major flaw in the system.


The call for system change was amplified by young and passionate feminists on Young Feminist Day. Young activists from around the world used the day to make calls for greater action and inclusion in climate change processes. Young women used the day to join the wider WGC in calling for “bold, ambitious, binding agreement that dismantles a globally unjust order and the framework that disadvantages women”. Women were visible and vigilant and were adamant in their defence of the needs of women and other vulnerable groups and by extension all of humanity. It was heartening to see young feminists demonstrating awareness and passion as they led actions and presented on panels.

Despite their presence and representation at COP21, young feminists shared their disappointment with the continued segregation based on their age and, thus, “inexperience”. Some young activists argued that ageism and cultural views on age sometimes leads to their exclusion or mere tokenistic involvement in some spaces and discussions. One activist lamented the lack of tools and resources developed by young women for young women. There was a call by young feminists for greater equity in the movement to allow young women the opportunity to be fully engaged and participate in a wholesome manner.

Even with the increasing number of young women who are being afforded opportunities to attend the COP, there is room for more young women of the Global South to attend. The challenges of young women globally, though similar in some ways, differ based on the economic, social and political context. The realities of young women in the global north and south are vastly different and are best represented by the people who themselves have to live these experiences. This assertion is in keeping with the call made by Tetet Lauron of Ibon International that the new agreement needs to be framed as ‘our own coming from our own, open to input from the [local] community’.

COP 21 failed to give a strong climate agreement that women rights activists had been advocating for. In the words of Tess Vistro, climate justice activist from Philippines: “The Paris Agreement failed those who most needed it: The women of the global south who have contributed nothing to the problem but suffering the greatest, most deadly impact COP 21 traded away the rights of the most vulnerable communities, specially   of rural, indigenous, urban poor and migrant women in one the greatest opportunity to re-write the history of the planet earth.”.  The inaction and failure of governments has made women rights activist to act in solidarity more strongly. Women rights activists have declared to reclaim power in their hands to change the climate change by creating local climate justice movements and influencing the policy at local, national and global level.

During the two weeks in Paris, we witnessed a strong civil society activism and action calling for strong climate agreement. Despite French government’s ban on civil society due to the state of emergency, thousands of climate justice activists came out in the street of Paris to join the human chain before the COP 21 began. Civil society activists kept the voice of climate justice high and that boosted our faith that people all over the world are still united for justice.

Women and Gender Constituency at the UNFCCC in Paris, France December 3, 2015

Women and Gender Constituency at the UNFCCC in Paris, France December 3, 2015

WGC joined the civil society group and activists like Naomi Klein to talk about the link between the trade agreement and climate change—a perspective that was missing at COP 21. Unless we talk about our global economic model that is driven by burning of fossil fuel and unequal distribution of wealth and resources, we cannot achieve climate justice because the current global system we live in is driven by the unequal economic system where women are the most vulnerable group.

The climate justice movement is bringing together people working from diverse background together to demand system change. It is creating solidarity between movements led by women, trade unions, farmers, indigenous peoples, educator, youths and many more. It is an opportunity for young feminists around the world to create a stronger movement and be intersectional in their feminist approach and politics.

As penned by Alina Saba and Ayesha Constable

Photo of the Month: February 2016

FRIDA publications pic

This month’s photo is one that we love so much that we can’t stop smiling while sharing it with you! FRIDA was one of the participants at the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) Conference in San Francisco where organizations and funding institutions from all over the world gathered together to discuss and share their ideas on funding, grantmaking, resource mobilization and philanthropy. The picture above showcases some of the publications by participants, including three by FRIDA:
1) Our annual report 2014-15;
2) Our special impact report on early marriage and;
3) Our first-ever grantmaking report.

Woot! Woot! 🙂

Pic credit: Nevin Öztop 

Category: Blog, Photos · Tags:

Introducing FRIDA’s Board!

Board of Directors_featured

The year 2015 was an exciting and important one. With our staff and our advisory committee growing, FRIDA is proud to have, for the first time, its Transitional Board of Directors!  

In the last five years of its existence (yes! FRIDA  turned five recently!), FRIDA has grown rapidly and shown massive transformations. Drawing on the wisdoms and support of established organizations, FRIDA was incubated in partnership with the Association for Women’s Rights in Development and the Central American Women’s Fund, while also housed as a Collective Action Fund of the Tides Foundation. In this hybrid structure, FRIDA has successfully run four participatory grantmaking cycles and awarded almost $800,000 USD to over 70 groups of young feminists in over 60 countries.

These achievements have demanded significant growth and maturity in FRIDA’s programs, operations, and administration. And we realised that it is now time for FRIDA to spread her own wings and set up as an independent institution. The formation of the Board of Directors is an essential step in this process, to ensure FRIDA will always have the strategic direction, necessary resources, and financial oversight to fulfill its mission and uphold its core values.

While deciding to set up a Board was fairly straightforward – deciding who should be on it and how the selection process should be organized so that it is truly aligned to FRIDA values was much harder! In consultation with our grantee partners, advisors, and donors, it was decided that the Board of the young feminist fund must honor its intergenerational beginnings and act as an example for social justice movements everywhere. FRIDA’s Board is made up of diverse young people from around the world under 35 years old, with support of two multigenerational advisors that can be any age.


Because of the nature of the tasks our first Board needed to immediately fulfill, we focused our first selection process based on candidate’s’ familiarity with FRIDA and a special skill set. We drew primarily on our own Advisory Committee and close partners. However, we are committed to creating a more open and participatory nomination and election process for the recruitment of new Board members in 2016.

So without further ado, we are pleased to introduce to you our Board!

Click here to read more about these fierce feminists who are now an integral part of the FRIDA family!

FRIDA special impact report on ending forced marriage

Forced marriage is, unfortunately, a grave reality in many communities around the world. It has become a social phenomenon and a common practise in several developing countries, and is often a result of cultural, religious and even economic reasons that disproportionately affects girls and women.

As forced marriages are often unofficial and undocumented, specific and reliable statistics on forced marriage are difficult to come by. But it is heartening to see groups and collectives relentlessly working to end this human rights violation. In the 2015/16 grant-making cycle alone, FRIDA received forty-one applications from groups seeking funding to address forced marriage in their communities.

As part of a new ongoing series, we are proud to share with you this report on what five of our grantee groups have been able to achieve in their work to eliminate the practice of forced marriage.

Forced Marriage Impact Report

Click here to download and read the report.

From theater in Romania to radio in Nepal, these groups have helped young women and girls break a silence in their communities to share their feelings, concerns, and dreams about their own life choices. Meanwhile in Burkina Faso, Malawi, and Pakistan, groups are supporting married girls to remain or return to school, while working with local leaders to enact fines and support advocacy on ending forced and early marriage.
We share this report with much pride and gratefulness with you because we know that the hard work of young feminist groups cannot be strengthened without the consistent support of passionate donors. We encourage you to consider giving to the young feminist movement. Donate to FRIDA today!

Introducing FRIDA grantees 2015!

We are super excited and thrilled to share the results of our fourth grant cycle!#FRIDACycle2015 was our biggest grant cycle yet with proposals pouring in from young feminist groups from all over the Global South region. We received over 900 applications in seven languages (English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese and Russian) from over 100 countries!

We are incredibly thankful to everyone from the FRIDA family who helped make this year’s grant cycle possible: advisors, staff, volunteers, translators, references, donors and all the young feminist activists who applied whose work inspires us.

Together with our advisory committee and our staff, we shortlisted a total of 291 applications that fit our funding criteria. In keeping with our participatory grantmaking model, shortlisted applicants voted for what they thought were the best proposals from their respective regions.

Based on the proposals that received maximum votes, we are proud to award new grants to 38 groups! In addition, we renewed 33 of our current partners, making a total of 71 groups supported by FRIDA!

Click here to read more about these inspiring young groups who are working towards gender equality in their own unique ways: ranging from art, theatre, poetry, coding, sewing and more!

We hope you enjoy reading more about these fierce feminist groups as much as we did. And we encourage you to show your support. Tell us who you liked. Share with your friends and peers about the group that inspired you the most. Donate and be a part of this funding movement so that more groups can be supported in the years to come!

In solidarity,
Team FRIDA – Ruby, Jovana, Boikanyo, Monika, Nevin, Deepa, + Devi