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Khadijah’s Daughters is Shahnaz Chinoy Taplin’s blog focused on Muslim women – their issues, challenges and opportunities.

Shahnaz is Chair, Invest  in Muslim Women

December 8th, 2015
Today’s Heroines are The Brave New Warriors – leading the Way!
 
When Vogue magazine profiled thirteen women around the world, three of them were Muslim women, and I wanted to share a longer profile of each of them to celebrate the work of all women on issues like climate change. Women in the NEWS at the United Nations COP 21 conference in Paris are indefatigable warriors who face daily challenges even as they try to better the lives of women and children on the ground. Here are the profiles of three incredible women who make a difference in their communities by enabling women to survive often under harsh conditions.
 
“In Africa, you don’t just think about the children that you bear,” says Amina Mohammedspecial adviser on post-2015 development planning to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Every child is yours.” In Mohammed’s home state of Nigeria, she says, climate change has exacerbated poverty.“It has come together as the perfect storm to create situations that have fueled Boko Haram, the terrorists that live in my part of the country.” But, says Mohammed, “I think we’re getting nearer the light at the end of the tunnel.” 
 
“By 2030 we can end poverty, we can transform lives and we can find ways to transform the planet while doing that,says Ms. Mohammed. Amina asks the tough questions: “Will we have the leadership to follow through on our plans?” “We want to see women in more leadership roles given that women constitute half the world. We need a new agenda for the next 15 years that tackles the unfinished business of the millennium development goals.”
 
Farhana Yamin originally from Pakistan is an international environmental lawyer and a climate change and development policy expert. She is a visiting professor at University College, London, and teaches international environmental law and is also an associate fellow at the Chatham House. Yamin is a strong proponent of reducing environmental emissions to zero in our lifetime. Since Yamin launched the idea in 2013, the idea has exploded, papers have been written, seminars held. UN Security General Ban ki Moon, environmental groups and celebrities, including Leonardo di Caprio are following her lead. She is proposing that emission fade out by 2050 and the focus should be on near term emissions. She favors net zero emissions, carbon neutrality but larger nations have not yet embraced this concept. "In your lifetime, emissions have to go to zero. That's a message people understand," says Ms.Yamin.

Ms. Yamin, highlights a key change over the years in the negotiations which early on were marked by a quid pro quo equation of “If you do something, I will do something” but that notion is now changing. She pinpoints a major shift over the years and says, “What keeps me going is a sense of change. She highlights the fact that there has been a significant shift in the climate negotiations where there was a decade long dominant narrative that I follow, we’ve had a whole decade where the dominant narrative was based on quid pro quo negotiations based on: ‘I’ll do something if you do something for me.” But now she believes, the new spirit of negotiations is embodied which is that there is a turning point captured in “Let’s all do something together.”
 
Hindou Oumarou ibrahim hails from Chad and is the coordinator of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of (AFPAT) a community based organization. She represents the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), and as the Congo Basin regional representative she works to include the indigenous peoples on international platforms, as well as in the three Rio Conventions. 

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim is from the Sahel region of Chad, where climate havoc through droughts and floods have created a new norm. Ms. Ibrahim’s challenges are tall but as co-chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, she works hard and against the significant hardship that creates havoc resulting from the environmental devastation and the vanishing of Lake Chad. This impacts the lives of an estimated 30 million people in Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger. Ms. Ibrahim’s faith is resolute and she says “If women come together, they can have more impact than any agreement, or any negotiations.” She is resolute about the future and says,"We know that the future—it’s coming from us.”
 
One of my heroines is Leila Ahmed who wrote “A Border Passage,"  where she succinctly captured the heart and soul of “Women’s Islam“. She writes: “And the women had too, I now believe, their own understanding of Islam, an understanding that was different from "men’s Islam," or  ‘official’ Islam. She continues, “Islam as I got it from (women) was gentle, generous, pacifist, inclusive, somewhat mystical – just as they themselves were. My mother’s pacifism was entirely of a piece with their sense of religion….. being Muslim was about believing in a world in which life was meaningful…. Religion was above all about inner things….. in your attitude towards others and in your heart.” 
 
We salute the women activists for their dedication and commitment to representing the needs of women on the ground in the third world.
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