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Welcome to #Women4theClimate on CleanbuildVoices!
In today’s edition, our Woman Crush Wednesday (WCW) is none other than Ayakha Melithafa, an 18-year old environmental activist in South Africa.
Ayakha is part of the climate justice movement in South Africa. One of the deciding factors for her was learning about climate change having connected it to some occurrences, particularly climate-induced droughts, playing out in her environment.
Hailing from a family of farmers, Ayakha had always had a personal connection to nature was taught from a young age how to look after nature. At school, she took the initiative to join an environmental organization where she became more exposed to the science behind climate change as well as some ways to mitigate the effects.
The turning point came when she was introduced to fellow environmental activists- in person or by reputation- case in point, Europe’s Greta Thunberg.
Like other youths making their voices heard in Africa and across the globe, Ayakha knew she had to take that bold step of actively protecting the environment. She recognizes that the Global South (a term that refers to refers broadly to the regions of Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania) is already facing the impacts of the climate crisis and will also be most vulnerable in the not-so-distant future.
For her own part, she wants to shine a spotlight on South Africa and hold the government accountable. She believes that the power to effect changes lies in the youth. Unlike the older generations that have been shaped to be permissive, youths today are challenging the status quo, calling out for social, economic, and now environmental change
In her words: “The climate justice movement is led by young people. If we are given the knowledge and the resources, we will definitely stand up against all the injustices we are facing and fight for our future.”
This fearless young lady is part of different groups and initiatives some of which include the Fridays for Future movement, and the African Climate Alliance. In September 2019, she was among the 16 young children who filed a petition with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the child for their failure to adequately address the climate crisis.
Watch this space, as we’ll be back to feature another amazing woman as our WCW.
Featured Image: Ayakha Melithafa, South African Environmental Activist