Advancing Climate Justice through Community Engagement and Collaboration: The Significance of Earth Day and the SDGs

Every year on April 22nd, Earth Day is observed worldwide to promote environmental awareness and inspire individuals to actively safeguard our planet. This year, we actively engaged in this global event, amplifying the message of preserving Earth and its invaluable resources. With the theme of “investing in our planet,” the focus was on acknowledging the significance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as we near the year 2030. Understanding the criticality of achieving these goals is paramount in securing a brighter and more sustainable future for generations to come.

SDG goal 13

The SDGs were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. There are 17 SDGs, covering a wide range of issues, including climate change, sustainable cities, responsible consumption and production, and gender equality. 

Goal 13 of the SDGs addresses explicitly climate action and recognizes the urgent need to take action to combat climate change and its impacts. Key targets of SDG 13 include Strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters, improving education, raising awareness, human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning; implementing the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible, Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in the least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women and youth. 

Despite all these strategies in place, headway towards achieving the SDGs has been slow, and the COVID-19 pandemic further complicated matters. The pandemic highlighted the importance of addressing the root causes of environmental issues, some of which are deforestation, air pollution, and climate change, to prevent future pandemics and protect human health. The climate crisis is one of the most significant threats facing our planet, and it’s critical that we take urgent action to address it. 

The impact of the 2022 flooding in Ihuike Ahoada East LGA in Rivers State 

Nigeria’s significant impact of climate change. 

Nigeria, just like most developing countries, has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to developed countries but has still been impacted significantly by climate change. This has made the country more susceptible to extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, and storms, which have caused significant damage to infrastructure, property, and livelihoods.  The impacts of climate change on Nigeria’s agriculture sector have had a significant impact on food security and nutrition, with millions of people facing food insecurity as a result of reduced crop yields and rising food prices.

According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the 2012 floods in Nigeria affected over 7 million people across 30 states, resulting in the loss of over 300 lives and causing an estimated $16 billion in damages. In 2018, flooding in Nigeria affected over 2 million people across 12 states, resulting in the loss of over 200 lives and causing significant damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges. Similarly, In September 2020, heavy rainfall led to severe flooding in several parts of Nigeria, affecting over 140,000 people and causing an estimated $200 million in damages.

The most recent flood in Nigeria occurred in September 2021. According to the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), at least 70 people were killed, and over 100,000 were displaced by the flooding that affected 17 out of the country’s 36 states. The flooding was attributed to heavy rainfall, which caused the overflow of rivers and dams. Several houses, farmlands, and infrastructure, including roads and bridges, were also destroyed.

The impact of the 2022 flooding in Ihuike Ahoada East LGA in Rivers State 

How we are challenging the existing state of affairs.

Connected Development (CODE) with support from OXFAM recognizes the urgency of the climate crisis and is taking action to improve public opinion, awareness, and understanding of frontline solutions. Our campaign across Rivers and Akwa Ibom states is a significant step towards achieving the SDGs and raising awareness about environmental issues in Nigeria. The campaign aims to empower local communities to take action and make a positive impact on the environment. 

We aim to see Governments, companies, and other power brokers recognise the value of frontline narratives and implement policies and practices that respect and protect the rights of frontline communities and contribute to climate justice.

As an organization, we recognize the need to raise awareness about the devastating effects of flooding and spur reactions and urgent actions from relevant actors, especially the sub-national government. We shot a documentary that amplifies the adverse effects and impacts of flooding across our frontline communities across Rivers and Akwa Ibom State.  It was indeed a sight visiting the internally displaced camp where women, men and children were left with little or nothing from the catastrophic impacts of the flood. Pregnant women, elderly women, and sick men were all left to carter for themselves and their families in a dilapidated building with an unpleasant WASH facility.  As we interviewed these groups of people, I could barely hold a tear. I was glum and devastated.  Click here to watch the documentary.

We will continue challenging the existing state of affairs through partnerships with community-based Organizations and Media to ensure that everyone has a voice in the fight against climate change. By working together, we can make a significant impact on the environment and achieve the SDGs before 2030.

Men and boys have a Critical Role as Allies in Preventing Gender-based Violence (GBV) and Achieving Gender Equality.

Hyeladzira James Mshelia April 19, 2023 0

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a global problem affecting millions of women and girls yearly. I like to refer to GBV as a growing Global Pandemic. GBV includes any violence perpetrated against someone based on gender identity or gender expression, including physical, sexual, and psychological violence. While women and girls are the direct victims of GBV, men and boys have a paramount role in stemming it and promoting gender equality. 

Unfortunately, GBV incidents in Nigeria have experienced a significant upsurge due to the insurgency in the northeastern region. The escalation of violence in the Northeast since the onset of 2015 has led to a severe humanitarian crisis, with over 2.2 million people displaced due to the intensified attacks by Boko Haram insurgents. May I also remind you that the world is still reeling from the impact of COVID-19, including the socio-economic impact of the pandemic in Nigeria as well as the spike in cases of Sexual and gender-based violence cases? According to a report by the United Nations Women, nearly half (48%) of Nigerian women have encountered at least one form of violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hyeladzira Mshelia engaging boys in JSS Garki School

Why engaging with Men and Boys is paramount. 

Research indicates that men are more likely to perpetrate gender-based violence than women. According to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. The majority of these acts are committed by men. Additionally, the Global Study on Homicide by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that over 80% of homicide victims are men, with men being more likely to be killed by other men. These statistics demonstrate the need to involve men and boys in the efforts to end gender-based violence, as they are often the perpetrators of such violence.

  • While both men and women can be victims of GBV, men are more likely to be the perpetrators of such violence. Engaging men and boys in ending GBV is important because it can play a significant role in stopping the cycle of violence. 
  • Men can influence other men and challenge their harmful attitudes and behaviours towards women and girls. This can be particularly important in settings where GBV is normalized or accepted
  • Ending GBV requires the participation of everyone in society, including men and boys. Sustainable change can only be achieved if everyone is involved in the effort to prevent GBV and promote gender equality

In this perspective, Connected Development with support from Voice Program in Nigeria took the engagement of men and boys at the core of its interventions to promote gender equality and address violence against Women and Girls within Nigeria. The team and I adopted a grassroots engagement approach that targets men and boys, enabling them to provide direct impact and empowerment to victims and young people. Through this strategy, individuals have been receiving vital information on their roles as responders, the availability of diverse communication and reporting channels, and the importance of mobilizing a collective voice to speak out against gender-based violence. We engaged with diverse stakeholders ranging from informal stakeholders to formal stakeholders. I became conversant with The National Union of Road Transport Workers as a result of spearheading this campaign and very easily, I was fondly referred to as “Iya Motor Park” by my colleagues.

In a bid to strengthen the capacity of 1000 men and 1000 boys as ‘he-for-she’ champions to lead strategic advocacy and multi-dimensional stakeholder engagement against gender-based violence in Nigeria, we held a series of capacity-building sessions, training and town hall meetings for drivers, loaders, conductors, ticketers and even market women. We have come to understand that men and boys can play a significant role as partners and allies in reducing incidents of GBV and promoting gender equality. Equipping them with the necessary tools and knowledge to become advocates and allies in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence is crucial. Collaborations and partnerships are also key to laying a strong foundation for project implementation, which leads to greater success. 

Over the past 18 months, our project has yielded significant results, by partnering with the National Union of Road Transport Workers, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency, and The Enugu State Ministry of Gender Affairs and Social Development, we were able to mobilize various stakeholders throughout the project cycle. This resulted in the creation of five gender desk offices across five states in Nigeria, across the informal sector where women can rant and speak out without fear from their perpetrators, as has never been the case in places like the motor parks in Nigeria. We have thus far created safe places and a reporting channel for women to seek justice and demand accountability on issues relating to sexual and gender-based violence and sensitize school authorities on including guidance and counselling in curricula.  In addition, we empowered 2,610 boys through the Boys Against Gender-Based Violence Club and reached a total of 2.5 million people through online engagement. We also recorded positive behavioural changes by men and boys through their willingness to engage and educate other men and boys, who will do the same for their peers. 

The most exciting aspect of engaging men and boys as allies in ending GBV was through our extracurricular activity in the form of consent education for boys and girls in Junior Secondary schools. This was not only targeted at the students, and this was achieved by also strengthening the teachers’ capacities through the use of the Actions. Boys.Choices [ABC] on the SGBV manuals and ensuring they handled club activities regularly. 

A cross-section of participants during a Motor park town hall meeting in Abuja

Using innovative tools to directly impact and empower victims, young people across the project states

Young people across the project states are utilizing our innovative tools to directly empower and impact victims of GBV. These tools are designed to provide immediate and practical assistance to those affected by GBV, as well as to raise awareness about the issue and promote social change.

  • We developed a Social Construct Platform which is a digital data collection and analysis tool to access the misogynistic tendencies of men and boys, educate them on the subject of gender-based violence, and provide a one-stop reporting platform for victims and survivors. Click here to check your SABI level.
  • Using the Actions. BoysChoices [ABC] on SGBV Manuals, we developed a 24-week educational manual on mentorship and extracurricular activities for secondary school students, both boys and girls, across several states targeted by the project. As part of this initiative, we launched the Boys Club Against Gender-Based Violence in 30 schools, making it one of the first of its kind in Africa. Through this program, we have successfully educated and mentored over 3,000 boys on the issue of SGBV, empowering them to be allies in the fight against gender-based violence. ABC Manual for Boys
  • We produced a series of documentaries aimed at engaging with rights holders and raising awareness about the harmful impact of sexism and male dominance on ending all forms of violence against women and girls. These documentaries helped to shed light on the issue and promote dialogue around the need for action to end gender-based violence.  Find a link to the  docu-story  here 
  • We initiated dialogue with rights holders about their experiences and perspectives on gender-based violence through a VOX POP production. This initiative was conducted in three languages – Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa – and was instrumental in starting conversations and engaging with communities on the issue of SGBV.  Find a link the Vox Pop here 
  • SGBV Manual for Transport Workers and Organizations in the Informal Sector: We designed and developed an SGBV Manual for Transport Workers and Organizations in the Informal Sector. These manuals engaged gender desk officers within the motor park space. Manual for Road Union Workers on GBV
  • We created various knowledge-sharing materials, including fact sheets, cartoons, infographics, jingles, stickers, handbills, and community-based information dissemination tools. These materials were placed strategically in motor parks, buses, and cars to ensure maximum exposure and to reach a diverse audience

Through leading this campaign, I have realized that gender-based violence also affects men and boys, who often remain silent about their experiences. Male victims of gender-based violence often face a unique set of challenges, including social stigma, lack of support, and even disbelief from others. This can make it difficult for men and boys to come forward and seek help.

One of the key obstacles facing male victims of gender-based violence is the lack of data and research on the topic. Historically, most studies and statistics on gender-based violence have focused exclusively on female victims, leaving male victims largely invisible. This has contributed to a widespread misconception that gender-based violence is exclusively a women’s issue. In reality, gender-based violence affects individuals of all genders and can have devastating consequences for men and boys.

In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the need to address the needs of male victims of gender-based violence. This has led to the development of new initiatives and resources aimed at providing support and assistance to male survivors. These initiatives include counselling services, hotlines, and support groups specifically designed for male victims of gender-based violence.

However, there is still much work to be done to ensure that male victims of gender-based violence receive the support and resources they need. This includes challenging social norms and attitudes that perpetuate the myth that men cannot be victims of violence, as well as increasing funding for research and services aimed at addressing the unique needs of male survivors.

Ultimately, the fight against gender-based violence must be an inclusive one, recognizing that individuals of all genders can be victims and survivors.  I hope to witness more initiatives and remedies geared towards addressing the needs of men and boys impacted by gender-based violence.

Over 500 diverse world Leaders; A thrilling experience!

Hyeladzira James Mshelia October 17, 2022 0

A cross-section of Sub-Sahara African Shapers 

I would easily describe the Global Shapers Annual Summit as an immeasurably life-changing moment. This event inspired me in profound ways.

Weeks after, I am still finding the right words to describe how immensely powerful and liberating it was to be amongst over 500 diverse young people from across the Globe.  Let me put it in perspective, under 30 leaders who were Asians, African Americans, Europeans, and Australian were adequately represented under one roof. 

I received an email from the World Economic Forum (WEF) inviting me to attend the Global Shapers Annual Summit in Geneva, Switzerland. After more than two years, WEF opened up the summit for physical participants at the Forum Headquarters. Of course, this was an opportunity for shapers around the world to have a chance to connect, learn and plan to make a difference in the year ahead. 

The summit served as a favourable time for us to develop an understanding of our communities and what they truly stand for. We were also expected to test new ideas, skills and tools to lead change in today’s unique context. Of course, my role at Connected Development as someone who leads and coordinates some campaigns across Nigeria has availed me with numerous opportunities to work directly with marginalized communities  while understanding their context and exploring possible solutions. 

As I sat through the opening plenary at the United Nations building listening to Klaus Schwab Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum speak about the dimensions of leadership and how best these principles can be applied, I swiftly took a glance at the people sitting next to me. It was at that moment I realised that indeed diversity opens up fresh, unexplored avenues of thought and avoids myopic views, which is critical in our world today. 

Diversity is beautiful. Diversity gives us strength. Diversity makes life interesting. Diversity propels us forward. Diversity inspires unity. I could feel the power in the atmosphere. 

Global Shapers bonding during climate-related conversations 

I was born and raised in Nigeria; arguably one of the most diverse countries in the world. Despite colonialism, today, we boast over 500 unique languages and rich cultural heritage. However, We struggle to accept one another. I would rather refer to my neighbour by their tribe or religion. Tribalism has eaten deep into the flesh of Nigerians. Forgetting that we are all Nigerians, and in our differences lies our strength. I could certainly feel the energy. 

I bonded with a number of people on the first day. We spent hours talking about the various challenges we faced in our countries. Particularly, the shaper from Pakistan mentioned how over one-third of his country was underwater. This was a result of increased precipitation and glaciers melting fueled by climate change. Pakistan contributes less than 1% of the global greenhouse gases that warm our planet but its geography makes it extremely vulnerable to climate change. He delved into the root causes of terrorism, which occurs due to a lack of law enforcement, poverty, and unemployment. I could instantly relate because Nigeria is faced with similar challenges and we are working tirelessly at Connected Development to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. We must keep playing a vital role while anticipating the necessary evolution.

Most of us spread across all the continents of the globe are constantly thinking of ways to make impacts. We remain bound together by the desire to facilitate change and that is the epitome of diversity and inclusion. Change-makers from across the world move together as a team, yet spread from pole to pole of the planet earth. 

As the days progressed, I shared the work done by my hub while exploring areas of collaboration and partnerships. The most recent was the Climate reality project incubator which the hub won $3,000 to carry out a Gender-inclusive Plastic Recycling Action within two schools in Abuja, Nigeria. The summit had various breakout sessions under the community’s main impact areas. Areas like Protecting the planet, Creating inclusive communities, Strengthening civic engagement, reskilling for the future, Delivering basic needs and Improving health and well-being.

While we networked, learned, relearned and unlearned, we had tons of fun. We never hesitated to dance or sang during breakout sessions. We spent the night looking for fun activities and most importantly, afro-pop concerts on the heavenly streets of Geneva.

Lf- Natalie Pierce head of Global Shapers Community Rh- Hyeladzira James Mshelia Abuja Global Shaper 

This life-changing experience has deepened my understanding of the importance of diversity. Indeed, a multicultural exchange of ideas reinforces richer ideas, better impact and comprehensive solutions to perhaps, the global challenges we face in our world today.

I am thankful to World Economic Forum for this opportunity that I now hold so dearly to my heart. 

Gender-Based Violence: Are we ever going to get the desired change? – By Hyeladzira James Mshelia (Programs Associate)

“Madam if you like dey under this sun dey do training from morning till night if na rape issue, I go rape, my wife. Her body na my own”

I was utterly dump-founded, livid and startled. I was not sure if I heard right or if my mind was playing a fast one on me. Perhaps from the fatigue of trying to get a suitable motor Park in Enugu State to carry out our Project SABI motor park town-hall. 

I thought to myself that this man had some nerve to spew such distasteful words. How dare you openly admit that it is ok to forcefully have carnal knowledge of someone else. More so, your wife!
Statements like these, draw you into the reality of the appalling state of Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria and how these cases keep increasing in Nigeria despite all efforts to stem the tide. Violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence – is a major public health problem and a violation of women’s human rights, the World Health Organisation has stated.   Estimates by WHO indicates that globally about 1 in 3 (30 per cent) of women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Recently, the United Nations declared Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) as a ‘shadow pandemic’ while calling for urgent, comprehensive, and effective actions by duty-bearers to curb the menace.

What CODE and BQA are doing with support from OXFAM Voice to change the status quo 

Hyeladzira Mshelia CODEs Programme Associate giving a presentation on project SABI

To address these issues, Connected Development (CODE) and Boys Quarters Africa (BQA) with support from OXFAM Voice began a grass-root engagement approach with Men & Boys, on the “Project SABI” to directly impact and empower victims, and especially young people across FCT, Lagos and Enugu, with necessary information on their roles as responders using diverse reporting channels to mobilise mass voices. This project is aimed at seeking new approaches to tackle Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
I bet you are asking why men and boys right? Men and boys are key to promoting gender equality. The focus of this project is on engaging Nigerian men and boys as gender allies in their households and communities. We hope to bring together men and boys to challenge existing gender norms and plant new seeds of thought about the role of women in Nigerian society. Men and boys can shift existing gender norms by engaging with and understanding their privilege.

A driver lending his voice during our motor park town hall in Enugu State

Over the years CODE has led strategic campaigns that address issues affecting women and girls including gender-responsive budgeting, girl-child education campaigns and campaigns to eliminate all forms of violence targeted toward women and girls. I have been privileged to spearhead most of these gender campaigns but for obvious reasons, project SABI stands out.  This specific campaign is urging me to be even more relentless in my fight against Gender-Based Violence, more so, in an insane country like my dearly beloved. Nigeria has sworn to remain a truly complex nation whose growth is double-edged. As we grow in age and population so have we grown in all facets of crime and injustice. I am saddened by the trajectory of this nation and the lack of justice for almost everything and everyone. 

Remember how ​​Blessing Otunla’s unclad body was found in a brackish ditch in Iddo village, Abuja, Nigeria’s capital? How about the Nigerian gospel singer Osinachi Nwachukwu?  Was it not recently that a 22-year-old Oluwabamise Ayanwola, a promising fashion designer’s body was found after she went missing on February 26, 2022? Let us not forget that it has been almost two years since Uwa Omozuwa, a 22-year-old 100 level student of the University of Benin, was raped and killed inside a Redeemed Christian Church of God parish on May 27, 2020. 

You see, these barbaric acts have gone on for so long and I ask myself, Are we ever going to get the desired change? I have sisters and adorable nieces that I will detest if they made the headlines for the wrong reasons. Permit me to say ‘my tired is indeed tired’ 

However, It is time to take greater action therefore, I call on the Nigerian government and relevant stakeholders to accelerate efforts to curb Sexual and Gender-Based violence in Nigeria. There is so much work to be done. A holistic and intentional approach by you and I will go a long way in mitigating this menace. Tell the person sitting next to you that it is never alright to rape/ molest anyone and of recent anything. Oops! I said it.

Ten Crucial Points From Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists” for Ending GBV

Hyeladzira James Mshelia April 10, 2021 2

By Charles E. Uche Esq & Hyeladzira J. Mshelia

In the view of Socrates, intellectualism allows that “one will do what is right or best just as soon as one truly understands what is right or best.” The virtue is a purely intellectual matter, since virtue and knowledge are familial relatives, which a person accrues and improves with dedication to reason.

Thus, the aim of this article is to make people understand what is right and best, so they can be better in respect to the “gender problem”.

I, recently, read a piquant novella by Chimamanda N. Adichie “We Should All Be Feminists”. With instrumentality of the book, I mirrored our society, cultures, laws, and so forth, as well as my relationship with women and found institutionalised and inherent flaws. These flaws usually require a consciousness to be conspicuous or be noticed. A consciousness which many men fail to have because of “male privilege”. An ignorant privilege.

Just a few weeks ago, a Northern representative in the House of Representatives Chamber, ignorantly commented that women should be allowed to succeed, given opportunities, but not too much and his wife depends on him. As he said this, I anxiously waited for the Speaker of the House to call him to order for the comment. I was disappointed when he let it pass. Albeit, the disappointment was short-lived as soon as I remembered the sad reality that Nigeria is a nation that mostly regards women in general as chattels; and whose laws and cultural practises are oppressive to the feminine gender. A typical example is section 55 (1)(d) of the Penal Code which permits a husband to beat his wife for the purpose of correcting her. Interestingly, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act of 2015 prohibits and penalize spousal battery, but not spousal rape. 

The relationship between gender and violence is intricate. Different roles and behaviours of females and males, children as well as adults, are shaped and reinforced by gender norms within society. Often gender inequalities increase the tendency of women to be susceptible to violence and abuses. For instance, traditional beliefs and social norms portray that men have a right to control women and unfortunately, this  preconditioning also hinders the ability of affected women to come out of abusive situations or seek support. It’s interesting to see a wide range of bilateral, multilateral, philanthropic, and civil society actors – such as Connected Development [CODE] – working towards tackling barbaric social norms that deny girls of the right to education, women of the right to ambition and rape culture. CODE is also advocating for an end to Gender Based Violence in Nigeria.

I had in mind to write an elaborate appraisal of Ms. Adichie’s work vis-à-vis other contemporary issues affecting the female gender in Nigeria, and demonstrating how I am occasionally guilty of this “ignorant bias” as a young male.

In addition to reading Adichie’s “Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions”, I’ll attempt to make a much more succinct article on the entire issue.

Without much ado, here are ten (10) points from the book that need imbibing:

  1. Feminism arises from a “consciousness” of being; and Men can be feminists too.
  2. In the quest for equality, men who adopt a hands-off approach; who bask in the comfort of “male privilege” are tacitly promoting misogyny, patriarchy and androcentrism.
  3. Men (and women) must be “actively” thinking about, noticing and discussing gender problems (in the family, work place, cultures, laws, etc) with hopes of devising solutions to them.
  4. The reorientation of the mind, especially in the upbringing of our kids is crucial to tackling the gender problem. To decry gender-specific roles and expectations, we cannot raise boys to be hard and stoic in order to be a “Man” and girls to be soft and courteous.
  5. The fact that males have more testosterone level and thus, are physically stronger than females does not make females the “weaker vessels”.
  6. We don’t live in the stone “survivor of the fittest” age anymore where the physically-stronger exercises dominance over the less physically-stronger. Women don’t need the “protection” or “approval” of men.
  7. A person’s qualifications, ability to be innovative, creative, intelligent and hard-working should be largely instrumental to constructing his/her way to success(regardless of sex).
  8. Bottom/seductive power is not true power. It is just having the “free road” to the person who wields true power. Women must seek to develop themselves and wield that true power.
  9. Women should be true to themselves, challenge themselves, aim above Mt. Everest (there’s nothing like being “too successful/intimidating) and never be afraid of shattering the fragile ego and bloated self-worth of ignorant weak men.
  10. We should all be Feminists. In its undiluted, unadulterated, egalitarianism sense as it pertains to social, political and economic status of sexes.

And to conclude, while Chimamanda’s views on equality and feminism may not necessarily be the standard or all-embracing, she, however, raised and discussed solid points which both sexes must reflect upon as we seek to establish a society where no one is a “Second Class citizen”, as Buchi Emecheta wrote. Hence, we (men and women, alike) must all unlearn the centuries-long gender bias we’ve internalized while growing up; and seek to learn proper sex relations in the path to equality of sexes.

This piece was first published on 22nd March, 2018

Why You Cannot Keep Ignoring Climate Change

Hyeladzira James Mshelia March 5, 2020 0

Hyeladzira James Mshelia

Zira holding up SDG 13 Climate Action card

Greenhouse gas emissions constantly pose significant threats to flora and fauna,  economic development, as well as environmental sustainability. From shifting weather patterns, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, intense drought, storms, heat waves, warming oceans,  rising sea levels and melting glaciers. We do not need soothsayers to tell us the effect of and unprecedented scale of climate change and global warming.

 I remember having a conversation with a well-learned person on the dangers of leaving electric appliances on when not in use. He insisted he had no interest in matters of climate change because it was neither his concern nor did he believe in it. I thought that was sad. How can something so glaring and severe be easily shrugged off.

According to the NOAA 2019 Global Climate Summary, the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880. This is alarming. In 2020, predictions of far warmer temperatures have been made, regardless of which carbon dioxide emissions pathway the world follows. 

As one of the world’s most densely populated countries  with a population of over 200 million people, half of which are considered to be in obsequious poverty, Nigeria is known to be vulnerable to climate change. The sunny days are extremely hot while the rainy days are extremely wet.  The Nigerian agricultural sector depends largely on rain and fair weather–from crop production to livestock rearing to fisheries name it all. How then do we intend to survive when  the rainy season fluctuations and the weather temperature that tends to be unbearable for livestocks? Research shows that livestock mortality has increased drastically. These impacts are already being felt and will increase in magnitude if action is not taken. Despite increasing awareness on the effect and dangers of climate change, scores of people still claim ignorance. Many are ignorant of their adverse contribution they are making to increase climate change and are very much oblivious to the moral significance of mitigating climate change.

No one is asking you to restore beach vegetation to shade marine turtle nests in the Caribbean or Secure access to fresh water for elephants during periods of drought yet. Instead, we need to ask: “what can we do? What little efforts we can make towards mitigating the effect of climate change. Proper education on the subject matter is crucial at this point.

 Healing the planet starts in your living room, kitchen and garages.  Limiting the use of fossil fuels such as oil, carbon and natural gas and replacing them with renewable and cleaner sources of energy. An attempt to switch  to a ‘green’ energy provider and change what you buy and eat, turning off electrical appliances when not in use; are important steps to reducing climate change.