Youth Empowerment and Gender Equality: Keys to face climate changes

In a few weeks, the eyes of the world will be on Edinburgh, Scotland, where COP 26 , the main summit of world leaders to discuss climate changes and its impacts around the world will be held.

A 2019 World Meteorological Organization’s report shows that the 2010-2019 decade was the hottest so far registered and 2019 was the second hottest year ever recorded. The changes in global temperature result in extreme climate events, such as floods, tornados, wide fires and severe dry periods. The impacts reach us all, but affect mainly those who are more socially vulnerable. Smallholders, for example, see themselves challenged to surpass problems caused by global warming. And each region faces specific challenges.

João Paulo Alves, Brazil Africa Institute Project Manager, evaluates that climate changes cannot be faced without the strengthening of two currently vital action frontlines: youth empowerment and gender equality. 

On Americas and Caribbean scenarios, an intense rural exodus that occurred in the subcontinents of South and Central Americas contributed to youth’s situation worsening.

“They are subcontinents where 87% of the population lives in cities, equaling themselves to North America and Europe continents. So these regions have been through an intense rural exodus and the cities, despite their industrialization, weren’t prepared to receive this populacional contingent coming from the rural environment”, explains Alves.

The coordinator affirms that this massive rural exodus created a cisme between the rural and urban environment in Latin America and Caribbean. “The rural environment is seen as a delay and the urban one is a synonym of success. And several dialogues focused in the youth empowerment happened around this theme because younger generations need to understand and surpass this ideia and start to see the rural field as a viable environment to work and life itself”

To this happen, it is required the implementation of public policies that allows employability in the rural environment and a people traffic to the countryside in an easy way. “All these actions must be done in favor of changing the population’s vision in the relation between countryside and city. Let the countryside be seen as a possible place to develop a life as any other, even now that we have so many available technologies”, says Alves. 

Dr Marcia Brandon, from the Caribbean Center of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods, believes that today’s youth have already started to turn again their eyes to rural environments.

“One of the matters that we have always had too much care for, to avoid that people would buy it, is the idea that youth do not get interested in agriculture. This is really a myth. And I don’t know why we keep saying it. Now, more than never, there are lots of youngs in Caribe in the rural field (…) e lost of creative youngs have been going to rural areas, you can see it everyday on Facebook: in Jamaica, Belize and Trinidad, for example, there are lots of young men and women that became famers”.

The Caribbean Center of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods is one of the participants of the ongoing Communities of Practice cycles developed by the Brazil Africa Institute. The program gathers entities of Latin America and Caribbean to an exchange of experiences that also includes African organizations. The initiative is promoted in a partnership with the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), that gathers good rural practices and solutions in the Rural Solutions Portal. 

Women in the rural field

According to United Nations data, agricultural women have less access than men to land for cultivating and so do the required technologies and inputs that help in the production. 

Dr Sandra Nespoio Bergamin, from the Brazilian National Union of Cooperatives of Family, Agriculture and Solidarity Economy (UNICAFES), an organization that also participes in the Communities of Practice cycles, talks about the relation between women and the rural field.

“We fomented women’s organizations in all [Brazilian] states where UNICAFES acts. From the moment we form a network, it structures itself based on the demands, necessities and potentialities that each women has in its own regions”.

Bergamin affirms that, despite the regional differences that Brazil presents because of its territorial extension, the moments to join forces happen to guarantee a female participation in all spaces. “Despite we have big regional differences in Brazil, what unifies us are the actions that aim to create moments where women may have a guaranteed participation in all spaces, being them by woman’s formation or a dialogue about gender inequality or a awareness about violence against women”.