This summer, as Rhodes was ravaged by wildfires, ancient forests on the opposite shore in Turkey were being felled to expand an open-pit lignite mine to supply a thermal power plant. Local villagers, especially women, have been catapulted into the public space in their determination to protect the trees and safeguard the future of their children and grandchildren. In northern India, in the 1970s and in 2021, hundreds of women shielded trees with their bodies. In Uganda, Ecuador, Indonesia, and Brazil, women are at the center of efforts to stop the loss of forests. Youth climate activists in Uganda and the Gambia are initiating tree-planting campaigns, and in Senegal, a project was launched titled “For every newborn, one tree”. In the UK, 70 women married mature trees to save them from a housing development. Women are on the frontline of the worldwide resistance against deforestation because they are the builders of communities, water carriers, memory bearers and storytellers. From student campaigners in major cities to traditional matriarchs in rural societies, women will increasingly be at the heart of the next chapter in protecting the land and the water.

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