Sally Foster-Fulton: Global warming is real and happening – just ask women in poverty like Aster

Aster Argo, with her children Agar, 11, Hinit, 9, and baby Dibora
Aster Argo, with her children Agar, 11, Hinit, 9, and baby Dibora
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As the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness rolls in, and as some of us ­celebrate harvest in our churches, people across Scotland can stand together with women like Aster in Ethiopia, who are leading the charge in a drive towards a renewable future.

The harvest tradition reconnects us with the Earth and each other and our shared planet home gives life to us all.

Sally Foster-Fulton, head of Christian Aid Scotland.

Sally Foster-Fulton, head of Christian Aid Scotland.

As we enjoy and give thanks for the fruits of this harvest, we can also stand in solidarity with women whose harvests are uncertain.

For powerful women like Aster, whose life holds constant struggles, climate change has created chronic challenges and has made life ­harder.

No matter how hard she worked – farming, cooking, carrying firewood – Aster was unable to save enough money to support her ­family. But she refused to be beaten by poverty.

Aster came together with ­women in her village to set up their own solar-powered shop. With training from Christian Aid’s partner organisation, they have turned this shop into a thriving business that benefits them, the community and the environment.

Here in Scotland, our emissions of greenhouse gases have halved since 1990. This is a huge achievement – well ahead of countries such as ­Germany and Denmark, where emissions have only fallen by around a quarter. Although Scotland has so far made great progress in tackling climate change, we find ourselves at a crossroads.

The Scottish Parliament will soon debate a new Climate Change bill, and – as it stands – the draft laws don’t do enough to keep Scotland at the forefront of tackling this crucial issue.

This would be a huge missed opportunity – both for Scotland, and for communities and people like Aster, most affected by climate change. With enough pressure from people across Scotland, we can ­celebrate Scotland’s climate leadership for ­decades to come.

Just as women like Aster provide leadership in their communities, so nations and governments must also demonstrate leadership on this ­defining issue.

In Aster’s own words: “Coming together as a women’s group, it’s like adopting sisters; another family. We share happiness and sorrow together. They share my burden and help me face my challenges.”

Solar energy has given Aster’s ­village not just literal power – they once had no access to electricity – but also the power to change their lives for the good.

Now they can save for the future, show leadership in their communities, and challenge ­traditions while caring for the planet. All of this is happening in an environment where ­climate change hits women and girls the hardest.

Aster’s sister, Ari, said: “In the past women were not recognised and we were not free. Having money as women was difficult. We didn’t have any reserves for the hard times or the drought.”

Now women like Aster have the power to own their own businesses, adapt to climate change, and ­nurture their environment for future ­generations. They have the power to transform their lives and communities.

As this model is replicated, with the ­support of charities like Christian Aid, all over the globe, we see the world transformed. Together we’re powerful. Together, we can create a world where ­everyone can live a full life, free from poverty.

To donate to our Harvest Appeal please go to www.christianaid.org.uk/harvest-appeal. This harvest, your gift goes further.

Every £1 you give will be worth £5, thanks to funding from the European Union. That’s five times the number of lives you can help transform this year.

To learn more about Christian Aid Scotland’s climate change campaign, please visit www.christianaid.org.uk/news/scottish-climate-bill

Sally Foster-Fulton, head of Christian Aid Scotland.