Grace doesn’t hesitate when she speaks. It is clear that she cherishes her home — the BOSAWAS. Full of forests, landscapes, traditions, nature-loving people and culture, it is her birthplace, her homeland, and where she has been teaching students for more than 15 years — sharing the importance of conserving the natural wealth of this important biosphere reserve. She loves planting and fishing and the potential of each new day.
But, despite the idyllic backdrop, Grace faces challenges akin to all women here.
As a woman, she is more vulnerable to climate change impacts. Like many women who make up the world’s poor, she bears the responsibilities of home and family and work and is also dependent on natural resources — resources threatened by climate change. New diseases are emerging, but there are fewer medicinal plants to treat them.
It is increasingly recognized that as climate change intensifies, women will struggle the most. Women have less access to basic human rights and less ability to acquire land. Women are more likely to live in poverty than men, are more likely to be responsible for the care of others, and are more likely to face violence that escalates during periods of instability.
Grace and her community weathered back-to-back hurricanes in 2020. In the past ten years, 87% of the world’s disasters have been climate-related. Despite the challenges she faces, Grace is an optimist. She believes that equipped with the necessary knowledge and adaptation tools, the people of the BOSAWAS will continue to overcome.
In commemoration of International Women’s Day, Grace invites everyone to reflect on the roles that women play — and the roles they should play — in their living environments and to prioritize the recognition of women’s rights and the participation of women as fundamental pillars, decision-makers, and change-makers in forging more fair and equal societies for the future.