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Girls@COP26 event to promote gender equality to tackle global climate change

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More than 2500 S3 secondary pupils from schools across the city will gather at a special conference at Glasgow Caledonian University for the duration of the COP26 to debate different aspects of the climate emergency with a female twist.

Ahead of the event, some of the S3 pupils who have been helping to shape the conversations being held at the conference and to be led by local, national and international speakers, met up at the Suffragette Tree at Kelvingrove Park in celebration of the International Day of the Girl on Monday 11 October and 20 days until COP26.

The series of thematic daily talks have been planned from Monday 1 November – Friday 12 November at the city centre university with a different selection of girls from Glasgow schools joining forces to discuss the global issues around our environment and gender – Sustainable Development Goal 5 – and alongside other female related issues including health and challenges that can affect women and girls’ bodies.

The Solutions are Feminist conference, in partnership with GCU and Women of the Word (WOW), is the ideal platform for Glasgow’s female voices to be heard, influence change and make an impact – pupil voice is very strong in Glasgow’s schools and with COP26 being hosted in the city, our girls’ opinions are being given a stage to shout from.

Bailie Annette Christie, Convener of Wellbeing, Empowerment, Community & Citizen Engagement City Policy Committee said: “COP26 is coming to Glasgow, it’s the biggest event the city has ever seen and it is very important because we are in the midst of a climate and ecological emergency.

“Women have been central to climate action both in Glasgow and across the globe, particularly our young women. The events we are holding throughout COP26 centre on our S3 secondary schoolgirls. They will be coming along every day for two sessions where they will discuss a range of themes like climate action, health, culture, fashion and women’s contribution to society with a panel of experts.

“The event is called Girls@COP26 – The Solutions are feminist. The event space is with our partners at Glasgow Caledonian University. We hope that during and after the event the girls will come up with solutions because we know that climate change disproportionately impacts women and girls so we are looking to see how they come up with their own ideas and solutions to fight climate change.”

Professor Tahseen Jafry, Director of the Centre for Climate Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University, who are partners in the Girls@COP26 event, said: “The Solutions are Feminist event is a fantastic opportunity that will allow women and girls to galvanise around this subject matter.

“Women’s voices must be heard at COP26. Climate change is affecting the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world. Women and girls are on the frontline of the climate crisis. They experience hardship, grief and anxiety, so the impacts of climate change are affecting them both physically and mentally. It is vitally important that women and girls’ voices and needs are heard, and their aspirations and desires for a better, more sustainable and healthier world need to be aired. That conversation must to be front and centre of COP26.”

Drumchapel High School pupil Olivia Johnstone said: “To me climate change means that people, animals and plants everywhere are suffering and unless we act now nothing is going to change.

“I am keen to go to an event like this because, not only do I want to find out more about what is happening and how things are going to change, I want to contribute something to it.”

Caitlin Rosie, also from Drumchapel High, said: “The world is deteriorating and it’s going to affect my generation and future generations in a negative way in the future unless something happens now.

“Events like this bring more attention and awareness to the climate change problem so that things can happen quicker.”

St Andrew’s High School pupil Olivia Campbell said: “People in future generations aren’t going to be able to enjoy the world like we do if we don’t do something about it.

“I am hoping by attending events like this that people will change the way they do things and we can start to improve the environment again.”

Julia Rychlik, also from St Andrew’s High, said: “The world has been overfilled with greenhouse gases and is slowly being destroyed which means that future generations won’t be able to experience the world as it is now.

“I am hoping that people will start to realise that the world isn’t always going to be this pretty if we don’t take action to get rid of as much of the greenhouse gases and plastic as we can.”

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