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Photography Survival Media Agency

‘Fighting for our human rights’: young African feminists reflect on COP27

As COP27 comes to a close, we speak to five African feminist activists about their experience at the conference – and how they’re continuing to fight for climate justice

Over the past two weeks, COP27 has been taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, markign the first time in six years that the global climate summit was held on the African continent.

Representatives from government delegations gathered to assess action on commitments made in the Paris Agreement, make agreements on the distribution of financing for climate action, and more. Activists gathered too, in an effort to challenge governments to be bolder and more equitable, to build stronger movements across countries and regions, and to foreground climate solutions that work for both people and the planet.

We caught up with a few young African feminists at COP27 who are organising in collectives like the Women and Gender Constituency and the African Feminist Task Force, networks of global and regional women’s rights and climate justice organisations. They shared with us why they wanted to be at COP27, what they are fighting for, and what’s next in the struggle for climate justice.


“As a first-time attendee to COP, I was looking for community, ambitious, radical organising, and visionary leadership. I found it in the civil society organisations – the Women and Gender Constituency in particular helped us ground ourselves in this overwhelming and intimidating space.

“I was looking for decisive leadership and action on the future of the planet at COP, but unfortunately, what I realised early on is that the people who should be in the negotiating rooms are not in those rooms. But that did not stop our collective resolve to keep pushing as far as we could within the context of COP. I was very inspired to see the commitment of feminist activists coordinating and organising across groups, having huddles at any given moment, staying up till 4am following discussions, writing up recommendations in texts and WhatsApp groups… it’s really been so incredible.

“What I got from COP is a hope that would have easily died were it not for the strength of organisation from feminist activists in particular. They’ve kept the movement hopeful, they’ve kept the movement empowered, they’ve kept the movement here really alive. At COP, I found facilitation of joy, of resistance, of resolve.”


“I’m fighting for the voiceless and the invisible communities who are directly facing the consequences of climate change. I’m here to amplify their voices. I’m fighting for our human rights to be respected. I’m here to valorise community-based solutions and not false solutions. My country, Madagascar, is one of the ten countries most vulnerable to climate change, but we don’t have enough resources to support our communities in their resilience. We don’t even have a pavilion space here at COP27.

“I’m glad to have support and solidarity from the Women and Gender Constituency and from other feminists. We’re supporting each other, empowering together, fighting together.”


“I hope that people are leaving COP with some hope that we can win this battle. We are up against so much. It’s a tough job, but we also know this is a marathon and we will continue to organise community-led action until our demands as African women and girls are met.

“I hope that we are leaving COP with smiles on our faces. Loss and damage were on the agenda for COP27, and now concrete steps have been taken to create a financial facility that is predictable, adequate and sufficient.

“Finally, I hope that we leave COP with a full realisation that the climate crisis is a values system crisis and centering justice in our climate activism means living in love even after COP27. That we as a people work in solidarity and always speak truth to power whether it’s comfortable or not. I believe this is how we change systemic barriers and build a radically more compassionate world, because we desperately need that.”


“There is a lot I can say about COP and what I wanted from it. Ultimately, there were more demands being disregarded than met – from failing to address gender on the climate agenda to the lack of consideration of non-market mitigation mechanisms.

“What I want to focus on, though, is the massive divide between the truly resilient, change-making forces of the developing countries that were calling for justice and pushing negotiations for their people, and the corrupt neocolonial wealthy states, corporations, and accompanying neoliberal structures and narratives that were perpetuating these systems of injustice for their own gain.

“I wish I had an answer on how to bridge this gap, but my hope is set on these strong, indigenous, feminist, young leaders and communities who are fighting the invisible battles on the ground across the globe and particularly in the Global South, as well as their supporters working to amplify marginalised voices. They are the ones that need to be at the decision-making and implementing tables, and we need to make sure we get them there.

“I felt privileged to be at COP27, but it shouldn’t be that way. I am Egyptian, Arab and African, but I am not representative of my people. So, let’s not speak on behalf of them, but elevate their voices and send the funds they direly need directly to these local activists to begin transforming climate action from greenwashing to effectivity. Push against false solutions and push for localised funding!”


“There can be no climate justice if we do not recognise and endorse the unique struggles of members of diverse and intersecting communities in climate action. At this COP27, I advocated for a just, human-centred negotiation outcome that endorses the realities of groups that have been left out for far too long.

“I am particularly keen to follow the review of how much progress (or otherwise) that countries and decision-makers have made towards climate gender justice. I want decisions that will awaken the ‘action’ in the Gender Action Plan (GAP). For me, this looks like women and girls meaningfully and equally represented, in their intersecting diversities, in climate decision-making in policy and practice, and accessing direct, flexible and affordable finance for their climate action.”

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