Room to Read Nepal initiates Climate Justice Clubs | December 28, 2023
As of 2022, UNICEF estimates that 129 million girls are not in school worldwide. Over the last decade, the rapid increase in devastating impacts from climate change, like destroyed infrastructure and family displacement, have compounded the existing barriers millions of girls already face in accessing a full quality education. The Malala Fund projects that by 2025, climate-related disruptions to agricultural industries, education systems and social stability globally will force an additional 12.5 million girls to drop out of school completely, even after recovery.
Additionally, due to traditional gender norms, girls face significant social pressures to marry early or find employment to support their households. For girls that remain in their family homes during crises, traditional responsibilities like gathering household resources and growing food take time away from the classroom, as critical essentials become less abundant and affordable. Addressing these challenges will require increased investments in climate justice education, which include efforts to educate students on the science of climate change, as well as its social ramifications around gender equity, to ensure more girls can advocate for themselves to stay in school and navigate crucial decisions about their futures.
With this in mind, Room to Read Nepal initiated Climate Justice Clubs at 26 schools in Banke District earlier this year, supporting more than 500 girls in Grade 6 as they gain the knowledge and tools required to tackle pressing climate challenges. Crafted to delve into the vital link between gender inequality and climate justice, Climate Justice Club curriculum will draw inspiration from Room to Read's Girls’ Education Program curriculum, focusing on equipping girls with essential life skills that support their active participation in climate justice initiatives and their ability to make key life choices.
Planting trees for Room to Read's Climate Action Day
On Climate Action Day in October, girls enrolled in Room to Read's Climate Justice Club in Nepal organized a tree planting event in collaboration in local climate action partners. Participants, including students, teachers, government officials and community members, came together to plant more than 300 saplings of drought-tolerant Moringa trees and other climate-resilient species. An additional 600 drought-tolerant and heat-resistant tree saplings were distributed to the girls to take home. In the weeks that followed, girls planted the saplings throughout their communities, engaging their families in the process.
"There are more built environments around my house than natural environments, and I am excited to see how beautiful my community will look in a few years when the saplings grow into beautiful trees," said Sarita, a student in Room to Read's Girls' Education Program.
Creating change through Room to Read sustainability campaigns
Girls from Room to Read's Climate Justice Club went on to develop a sustainability campaign in their local communities. Focusing their attention on sustainable waste management practices, students developed proposals for new waste collection systems that would allow communities to sort compostable matter from non-biodegradable waste. Students presented their proposals to local government officials and then worked in partnership with local municipalities to initiate long-term changes. Following the campaign, the Kohalpur Municipality began using municipal vehicles to sort compostable matter from non-biodegradable waste. And the Baijanth Rural Municipality and Kohalpur Municipality both distributed new compost-friendly waste bins throughout communities, encouraging individuals to adopt the practice of sorting compostable matter from other waste.
"Before participating in the life skills sessions conducted by the Climate Justice Club, I lacked awareness about the importance of everyday sustainability practices like turning off lights and managing waste," said Najiya, a student in Room to Read's Girls' Education Program in Nepal.
"I used to study with the lights on and would often sleep without turning them off. Room to Read's life skills sessions enlightened me about the significance of conserving energy. Consequently, I began actively practicing this habit and also started separating biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste. I have also adopted a more environmentally conscious approach by reusing plastic items and minimizing the use of single-use plastics at home. The life skills sessions played a crucial role in transforming my habits and fostering a greater sense of responsibility towards sustainable living."