On Friday, Time magazine published its Women of the Year list, which includes Aiysha Siddiqa, a climate defender from Pakistan. Along with women from various other countries, such as Mexico, Iran, Brazil, and Ukraine, who have made remarkable contributions in fields like politics, human rights, and arts in 2023.
Siddiqa, who hails from a tribal community in Northern Pakistan, became an advocate for climate and human rights after experiencing the impacts of climate change firsthand at the age of 14.
She is recognized as a powerful voice in the climate change movement and presented her poem “So much about your sustainability, my people are dying” at the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt last year.
Starting her climate activism at the age of 16, this sustainability worker has spent 24 years drawing attention to the impact of climate change, with a particular focus on the poorest countries that are hit hardest by it. She co-founded an international climate youth coalition called “Polluters out” in 2020 and launched a climate training course called “Fossil free university.”
In an interview with the magazine, she emphasized the importance of treating the Earth as a living being, with whom we have a responsibility. She expressed concern that we are collectively ignoring the cries of our planet, and how this affects women and girls who are often the ones tasked with fetching water and raising children in the aftermath of climate disasters.
She revealed that her own family had suffered losses due to polluted water, and that she was shocked by the human rights violations that often accompany environmental activism. Finally, she highlighted the disproportionate impact of climate change on women in South Asia, where women are often left to deal with the consequences of displacement, lack of clean water, and joblessness. In one instance, she noted that there weren’t enough resources to save the lives of 60,000 pregnant women during flooding in Pakistan.
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