Zambia | VCA Movement | Akina Mama wa Afrika


The tranquil expanse of Lake Kariba in Siavonga, Zambia, was the perfect canvas for a transformative journey that etched a new chapter into my worldview. I found myself amidst the vibrant energy of 30 remarkable African women at the African Women's Leadership Institute (AWLI) from August 14th to 18th, 2023, discussing the theme: Ecofeminist Leadership for a Just and Sustainable Future.




Have I always been drawn to climate action? The answer lies within my journey. Prior to AWLI, my understanding of climate action had its gaps and biases. The AWLI journey unravelled these biases and deepened my insight into the intricate intertwining between climate justice and feminism.

Guided by remarkable facilitators like Professor Sylvia Tamale, Hope Chigudu, Mwanahamisi Singano, and Ruth Nyambura, the week unfolded like a tapestry of wisdom. We peeled away the layers to reveal the undeniable link between feminism and climate justice. Our discussions unveiled how gender, race, and socio-economic factors intersect with climate change’s complex narrative.

A recurring theme was addressing the roots of the climate crisis. AWLI taught me that advocating for climate justice means confronting underlying power dynamics and reshaping environmental policies to reflect the voices of marginalized communities. Gender also took centre stage in our discussions. The fellowship showed me that women are not just victims, but also powerful agents of change in the face of ecological challenges.

But the essence of AWLI was bigger than any individual insight. It was a collective awakening. Ruth Nyambura’s words about collective efforts struck a chord: “Upper and middle-class fantasies” cannot solve the climate crisis. We need unity, dismantling norms, and reimagining systems.

As I shared my experiences during the fellowship, I realized that AWLI’s impact goes beyond me. It empowers women and girls to become catalysts for change. The training illuminated pathways to amplify my advocacy, reinvigorating my commitment to climate justice.

The AWLI experience was more than just a gathering; it was a transformation. I extend my gratitude to Akina Mama wa Afrika for curating this powerful journey. As I departed Siavonga, I carried with me a newfound energy, fresh perspectives, and an unwavering dedication to advancing ecofeminist leadership in the relentless pursuit of a just and sustainable future.

With passion and purpose,

Sharon Mutende

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