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Women’s Climate Strike Vigil For Our Planet held on Forres High Street

By Garry McCartney

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Making their message clear during the silent vigil. Picture by Mark Richards.
Making their message clear during the silent vigil. Picture by Mark Richards.

FOURTEEN women held a silent vigil in the centre of Forres in support of a new international environmental movement.

The 'Women’s Climate Strike Vigil For Our Planet', co-organised by environmental campaigner Rachel Winter, took place on Forres High Street from 12.30 to 1.30pm on Friday, August 20 and will be repeated this Friday.

Rachel explained: " "Of all the terrible images we have seen of so-called natural disasters this summer, I haven’t been able to forget the one of an elderly Greek woman standing distraught, as flames from wildfires approach homes behind her.

"I wanted to participate in the Women’s Climate Strike to stand in solidarity with her and all those suffering because of human-induced rapid climate change.

"Despite over 50 years of warnings from scientists, governments are still failing to take action required to halt the greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation that is driving global warming. While the last UK budget allocated £145million for environmental measures, it dedicated £40billion to policies that will increase emissions."

The Women’s Climate Strike is calling on women to demand action on the climate catastrophe by striking every Friday.

Rachel said: "We came together in silence to collectively express our love for the world, our grief at the climate and ecological destruction we see, and to call on our elected representatives to take urgent, ambitious action to protect the lives, health and wellbeing of all, including the most vulnerable.

"My hope is that more women will join us over the coming weeks. Everyone is welcome: you can stand or sit for as long or as short a time as you are able. Showing up and bearing witness together builds solidarity. When women get together it can be powerful. We know how to care for each other and it is time for us to rise up and say enough is enough. Our home is being destroyed and we must no longer leave it to the younger generations to hold those profiteering from this destruction to account. Every action counts."

An important statement. Picture by Mark Richards.
An important statement. Picture by Mark Richards.

Women’s Climate Strike organisers believe that women and children are paying a disproportionately heavy price for climate and ecological destruction. They are calling for urgent action from governments, including an immediate end to all new investments in fossil fuels, as recommended by the International Energy Agency. As well as unprecedented heatwaves, wildfires, and flooding across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, rain fell on the summit of Greenland’s huge ice cap for the first time on record, and the highest temperature in European history was recorded in Sicily.

Unicef now says that almost half the world’s 2.2 billion children are already at "extremely high risk" from the impacts of the climate crisis and pollution.

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued assessment report 'Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis', confirming that the climate crisis is caused by human activities and stated that "immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions" in greenhouse gas emissions are required to stabilise global warming.

Scientists warn humanity faces more frequent extreme weather events, wildfires, and coastal flooding, as well as increased risk of future pandemics and violent conflict over scarce resources.

However, according to the UN, 80 per cent of those displaced by climate change are women. Heatwaves, droughts, floods, pandemics, and extreme storms disproportionately affect women because they are more likely to live in poverty, have less access to basic rights and face systematic violence that escalates during instability. Despite this, women are often not involved in decisions made about the responses to the climate crisis: the UN says the average representation of women in national and global climate negotiating bodies is below 30 per cent.

This was why, on Augst 20, a Women’s Climate Strike was launched and Jane Combelic took part in Forres.

She said: "Something must be done, and soon. If the governments and business leaders won’t do it, or don’t do enough, it is up to us to remind them.

"Standing in a silent vigil with other women, insignificant as that seems, is at least standing up for what I believe in. I am not someone who ordinarily joins in political protests or carries a banner. I felt quite nervous just standing there, in silence for an hour. Yet I took solace in the dozen other women in the vigil, and especially the women who spontaneously joined us.

"I will be there again on Friday. I will stand in silence to show my disappointment in political inaction, to share in the sorrow of the millions of women around the world who suffer disproportionately from climate disruption, and to pray for the healthy world I know is possible."

The second vigil will be held on Friday, August 27 from 12.30-1.30pm, followed by a social gathering in Grant Park to meet each other and share concerns. All welcome.

Encouraging women to make a stand. Picture by Mark Richards.
Encouraging women to make a stand. Picture by Mark Richards.

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