Climate Justice And Gender Justice Have To Go Hand-in-hand

11 October 2019

“We demand that the new European Commission secures equal rights for everyone – and that they work hard to smash the gender-gap, both inside and outside the European Union. Because the young girls living in this world should grow up having the exact same possibilities and rights as the young boys. I will fight hard to make that a reality.” Says Kira Marie Peter Hansen, a green feminist and the youngest Member of the European Parliament from Denmark. On International Day of the Girl, we wanted to know from Kira what motivated her to run and what she plans on doing for girls and gender equality in the upcoming five years.

You are officially the youngest MEP ever. How does that feel?
I was excited, but also stressed out. My whole life had changed very suddenly and I didn’t really know how my new life as a MEP would be. Nevertheless, I felt very lucky to actually be in the Parliament and play a role. As you might can imagine, the first days in the European Parliament were busy, but in a different way than they are now. Everything was new to me and probably most challenging was to find my way around the building.

What inspired you to become active in politics at such an early age and above all, EU politics?
s a young, green feminist, I did not feel that I had a voice that represented me in the European-Parliament, and that was what motivated me to run. I saw how politicians in the EU were letting my generation down. Nobody was doing enough to fight the climate-crisis, inequality was rising and the gender-gap was not decreasing rapidly enough.

Did anyone in particular inspire you? Or is there anybody at the moment you are inspired by or look up to?
Actually, most female politicians inspire me, even if I don’t necessarily agree with them politically. It takes courage to engage in politics, especially as a girl or a woman, so whenever someone is stepping on to the political scene, I find it inspiring.

Before I decided to run as my party’s youth candidate for the EU elections, I was very much in doubt whether I should do it. There were already two competent men, who announced they would run for the post, and of course I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to win, that I be able to compete in debates, or that my campaign wouldn’t be good enough. However, when my friend Astrid told me that if I didn’t run, I would regret it, and if I was really serious about wanting more women in politics, this was the moment to do something about it. To this day, I am grateful that Astrid pushed me to run.

What advice would you give to girls and young women who are at the moment getting involved in politics?
First of all – thank you for caring about the future and being courageous enough to make  your voice heard. Believe that you can make a difference just by being you – don’t be held back because you’re afraid you might say something stupid or not having the answers to everything. I don’t and I manage anyway.

Remember politics is not everything, but you are allowed to follow your dreams and focus on what is matters most to you. Whilst campaigning, I was studying economics at the university in Denmark. I felt that my mom and society in general found it important that I was studying to ensure I would “become something”. Although I was very happy to be studying, it was also really stressful and frustrating, that I couldn’t focus my energy completely on either my studies or the campaign and ended up doing both half/half.

What I could draw from this period in my life is that I believe it is important we allow ourselves to focus on what makes us happy and do not necessarily follow some societal norm telling us what we should be doing, and when we should be doing it.

What will you be focusing on in the upcoming five years?
 will focus on fighting the climate-crisis and secure a liveable and green planet for the future generations. Without that, no other political battle matters. Being among the largest historic polluters, the EU needs to take leadership and responsibility. In the next 10 years, global emissions need to be more than halved. We need a very rapid transition to a 100% renewable based and highly energy efficient system, a fast phase-out of the use of fossil fuels and a rapid shift to sustainable mobility. Therefore, from the EU to the regional and local level, we must end fossil fuel support and invest in climate proofing all sectors of the economy. Simultaneously, we need to ensure inequality is not affected while we move towards a greener way of life.

And anything specific that you would like the EU to do to ensure girls all over the world get their voices heard?
As a young feminist, I will fight for equal rights for everyone. Certain movements inside and outside the EU have attacked gender equality, women’s rights, LGBTI rights, and reproductive freedom increasingly over the past few years. We have to fight back – we cannot let ultra-conservative religious idiots undo decades of human rights advances. We have to let them know, that their values are not the European values of democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. We demand that the new European Commission secures equal rights for everyone – and that they work hard to smash the gender-gap, both inside and outside the European Union. Because the young girls living in this world should grow up having the exact same possibilities and rights as the young boys. I will fight hard to make that a reality.

What do you expect from the new Commissioners? What would you want them to start working on first?
I expect fast climate action and the new European Commission to make climate priority a reality and increase our CO2-reduction target from the weak 40 per cent at the moment to at least 65 per cent by 2030. At the moment, planes and ships are being exempted from paying for their pollution, at the same time they are receiving tax subsidies, in my opinion this unacceptable. The Commission should propose a fair CO2-tax and let shipping pay for their pollution. I also expect that they will fight for a just transition that leaves no one behind – they should take measures that fight inequality in Europe and secure equal rights for everyone, so that all young people grow up with access to the same possibilities in life.

Last but not least, 11 October is International Day of the Girl (IDG), what message would you like to share across the whole world on this day?
e need to make sure that climate justice also means gender-justice. Women and girls represent the majority of those affected most by climate-change. Women are still under represented in positions of power and decision-making, and the gender division of labour continues to channel women to positions traditionally considered more appropriate for them, such as care work, which is oftentimes more precarious. Therefore, most aspects of climate change have a gender dimension: the causes, the impacts and the policies just simply have different effects on men and women. Therefore, climate-justice and gender-justice have to go hand-in-hand. If not, girls will grow up much more exposed to climate-change than they already are today, which is definitely not the outcome I am after.

Young people holding signs advocating for action against climate change.

Girls Get Equal, Skills and work, Climate change, Climate change activism

Climate Justice And Gender Justice Have To Go Hand-in-hand

11 October 2019

Girls Get Equal, Skills and work, Climate change, Climate change activism

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