Voices of the Action Coalition Leaders: Joanita Babirye

This editorial series provides a glimpse into the work of the Generation Equality Action Coalition Leaders as they work to develop catalytic actions and commitments to advance gender equality.

Name: Joanita Babirye

Action Coalition: Climate Justice

Role and Organization: Co-founder, Girls for Climate Action

Action Priority: Enable women and girls in all diversity to lead a just transition to an inclusive, circular and regenerative economy

Why did your organization sign up to play a leadership role in the Action Coalition and how has your experience been so far?

We started Girls For Climate Action because we wanted to raise awareness and explore solutions for the impacts of climate change that we are experiencing first-hand in Uganda. Our biggest motivation for becoming an Action Coalition leader was to make these experiences and our voices heard beyond borders. When I say ‘our’ voices, I mean all of the beneficiaries of the organization, including the young women and girls that are striving for climate justice on a daily basis but are usually marginalized and left unheard.

Becoming a leader and sitting at the same table as Government representatives, civil society leaders and philanthropists means that we are visible and that people recognize how youth voices are essential to achieve change. Our work also facilitates dialogue between younger and older generations, which is vital for the journey ahead over the next five years.

What outcomes do you hope the Generation Equality Forum will have, and what young people will take away from it?

The Generation Equality Forum is a learning experience that offers young people a space to network, speak out, think together, and create commitments that will have a bigger impact for our communities. I hope that young people can continue taking the lead in the Forum discussions and have opportunities to share their ideas for change based on their experiences on the ground.

Overall, I hope the main outcome of the Forum is that the intergenerational gap is bridged. We need to work together to achieve a just world by tapping into the expertise of the older generation and applying new experiences and solutions from the young.Joanita Headshot

What kind of transformation in the field of climate justice are you hoping to achieve through your leadership role in the Action Coalition?

Empowering young women and girls to become climate leaders is an essential part of provoking action. Women and girls should be able to demand climate justice, but this is only possible when they are equipped with the tools and knowledge to hold everyone accountable and to break the barriers that are hindering their access to resources. For me, the transformation needed is to make women and girls fully aware of the issues and leaders of the solutions.

The action defined by our Coalition that speaks to me most is about the development of climate leadership and knowledge hubs. Commitments to enhance learning and capacity building for women and girls are essential as they will increase the ability of different individuals to take climate action and advocate for justice. Additionally, integrating climate issues into curriculums is key to taking action, even if it is small. For example, if you decide you are going to start walking to work every day that is a good contribution and will have positive effects for marginalized or rural communities in the long run.

What motivates you personally to keep driving for change, including through your leadership role in the Action Coalition?

I grew up in a community where women and girls interact with the environment every day for food, income, and to take care of their households. We started having to travel longer distances to look for water. We noticed that changes to the seasons were having a negative impact on agriculture, which made us increasingly concerned. I felt passionate that something had to be done to address this, and that is why I have committed to creating awareness of how to prevent climate change and take action to lessen its impacts.

Being involved in the Action Coalitions has opened up a diverse space where everyone is pushing for the same goal. This gives me the feeling that we are in the fight together, that we stand for the same cause and we believe in creating something that represents the voices of the highly marginalized. Together we are creating goals, commitments and actions that will work for our communities and meet the ambitious vision for change that we all needed to see and achieve when we started this process.

Read more about the Action Coalitions here.