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International Women’s Day: Raising up women as light in dark times

16 Women Restoring the Earth
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“Hang Out in the Trees for a While.” Used under Creative Commons license. Flickr/Thomas Hawk

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When I was a young girl, a friend and I spent our summers building a treehouse. We built it because our older brothers were building one and wouldn’t allow us to help them.

So, we asked our parents to support us as we procured basic tools, collected scrap wood from the local hardware store, chose a tree, and then spent day after day puzzling beams and boards together into a structure in which only people of our small size could fit.

Our brothers would often scope out our progress, refusing to believe we had managed some of the architectural feats on our own, but we didn’t mind their judgements. It was sturdy, it was ours, and it was perfect.

Although we’ve now outgrown the treehouse, I pay it a visit from time to time, remembering the seasons spent among the branches building our humble stronghold – and building ourselves. Those summers taught me that even with the most minimal amount of support, there was little I couldn’t do with hard work, resourcefulness, teamwork and friendship.

I share this story on International Women’s Day 2022, because I believe that every woman has such a story – indeed, many may have tales involving much steeper challenges than the simple and privileged ones I overcame in my youth.

The statistics about gender equality in the context of sustainable development continue to be staggering. While the exact percentage is debated, it’s widely agreed that women comprise the majority of the world’s poor. Eighty percent of people displaced by climate change are women and girls, and sixty percent of the world’s food insecure people are women and girls. And pretty much all pre-existing gender inequities have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

But what is more staggering still are women’s stories of triumph despite the obstacles – when they’ve turned others’ doubts into opportunities, when the fruits of their tireless labors yielded literally unbelievable results, when they were given a dime and built a castle.

This deserves reflection and recognition, which is why we at the Global Landscapes Forum are honoring such leaders and agents of change in our annual 16 Women Restoring the Earth campaign. This list raises up women from across five continents, three generations and all sectors who are using their efforts, resources, relationships, and willfully-built selves to help piece together a better reality – and future reality – for everyone else too.

Find the full series and read the stories on Landscape News.

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