Across Cambodia, climate change is having disastrous impacts on local agriculture and livelihoods. Women like Pak Pov, are leading the way, taking action on a local and global scale by sharing their stories.
Pak is a widow raising and supporting her three children alone. Like many members of her village, she relies on rice and salt farming for her income. As climate change affects weather patterns, Pak says food and income security in her community has become increasingly uncertain.
“Our salt farm has not been fruitful in the last three years due to more rains during farming season. It has significantly cut down our family income,” she says.
To respond to the emerging issues, Pak’s village began holding regular community meetings to plan for the future. Although Pak was occasionally invited to these discussions, she didn’t have the confidence, fearing that she lacked the knowledge to contribute meaningfully.
Unfortunately, Pak is not alone in these frustrations. In many communities impacted by climate change, existing gender norms typically exclude women from dialogues. They often lack the opportunity or space to share their knowledge and experiences and their voices go unheard.
Pak is one of 8,000 women across Cambodia, Kenya, and Vanuatu, working with ActionAid to take individual and collective action to equip women with the tools and knowledge to actively participate and lead these conversations.
The Gender Responsive Alternatives for Climate Change (GRACC) project, with support through the Australian NGO Corporation Program (ANCP), has provided women with the resources to deepen their understanding of climate change and the opportunity to engage with each other and local authorities on these issues.
Reflecting on her own journey, Pak recalls that in her first GRACC training session she was too shy and nervous to contribute. As the training progressed, she developed her confidence as she realised the value of her own experiences and knowledge.
When Pak had the opportunity to travel to the 2019 United Nations Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction conference in Geneva, Switzerland, she leapt at the opportunity to engage in global discussions on climate change and advocate for increased women’s participation and leadership.
The decisions made by these international forums have significant impacts on women so it is vital women are included in the decision-making process. The conference also introduced Pak to a global network of like-minded women leaders who she could draw on for knowledge, inspiration and guidance.
“I have gained knowledge from every woman coming from all over the world to participate in this international forum. They shared a lot about their small groups and women’s networks in their local community, as well as their communities’ initiatives toward disaster when it happens. When I return home, I will share all this knowledge to my local community.”
Feeling empowered, Pak now has her sights set on the future, working towards starting her own women’s network initiative and becoming a member of her district council. She is ready to assume leadership positions in her community and share her valuable experiences, bringing other women with her on this journey.