Pakistani climate activist Ayisha Siddiqa has been named ‘Women of the Year 2023’. The 24-year-old is also a human rights activist and believes poetry represents hope – a way to bring humanity back into high-level conversations.
Siddiqa shared an original poem at the annual U.N. Climate Conference in Egypt in November, it was titled “So much about your sustainability, my people are dying” and was about how leaders have failed to act on climate change.
Ayisha Siddiqa added that the effects of high levels of negligence could be seen in life-altering events, including the Pakistan floods that washed away millions of homes and thousands of lives. Even months after the floods, the affectees still suffer from hunger and diseases as they still do not have a roof over their heads or access to resources.
Feeling hurt and wanting to protest, Ayisha Siddiqua channelled her feelings in the form of poetry, “It’s an effort to preserve what I have left, while I still have the time, in written form,” she says.
“Art makes life worth living, and in my opinion, it’s what makes humans worth the fight. Like all of the things that we leave behind, all the creations, wouldn’t it be so unfortunate if there’s nobody on the other side to witness and observe them?”
Ayisha Siddiqa – A 14-year-old Visionary
Siddiqa was 14 years old when she realized how climate change has impacted the environment and how dangerous it has become for civilization. She also witnessed the demise of her grandparents who passed due to the contamination caused by the pollution of river water.
At 16, she became more aware of the links between climate change and human rights, including that access to resources was a reason worth killing for. “The wounded world is so beautiful because she keeps producing life,” she says. “And my work is in defence of life. By default, it’s a defence of the rights of women. Therefore, it’s also by default human rights.”
Eventually, it was these wake-up calls and her values that motivated Ayisha Siddiqua to raise her voice and uplift those who became vulnerable while calling out the polluters who are responsible. “I was raised with the idea that the earth is a living being, that she gives life to you and in return, you have a responsibility,” she says. “And I think we, collectively, have come to a point where we are ignoring the cries of mother earth.”
In 2020, Ayisha Siddiqa co-founded Polluters Out, a global youth activist coalition and helped in the launch of the Fossil Free University (an activism training course). She is also working to help set up a youth climate justice fund to help correct the imablance of resources against the fossil fuel industry.
According to a 2018 study, when it comes to climate action lobbying, the fossil fuel industry out-spends activists and the renewable energy sector by a factor of 10:1. Siddiqa’s work aims to fund philanthtrophists and activits around the globe.
“This work is definitely intergenerational,” she says. “I am young now. Tomorrow, I won’t be. I absolutely love working with people younger than me to pass on this knowledge so that the chain never breaks.”
Kudos to Ayisha Siddiqa for her selfless contributions.
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