Meet the young woman who’s battling climate change in Bolivia
Mirna Ines Fernández Pradel - Bolivia
Global Goal 13: Climate
For Mirna Ines Fernández Pradel, 27, the environment matters and she’s passionate about protecting it. Mirna, who lives in Bolivia, became a Girl Guide when she was just six and it’s a movement that’s inspired her to stand up for what she believes in. That’s why she’s determined to make the fight against climate change a priority…
“In Bolivia, there are many ecosystems and people depend on them to survive. Unfortunately, the impact climate change is having on the ecosystem is being felt most by the poorest communities who are finding it the hardest to deal with,” says Mirna Ines Fernández Pradel, 27, from Bolivia.
The issue of climate change now affects every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives. It’s costing people, communities and countries a great deal. Unless measures are put in place, the situation will only get worse – and it will affect girls disproportionately.
“Among the poorest communities, girls are most vulnerable,” says Mirna. “Girls often have to drop out of school to take care of their siblings and to do the housework. As the effects of climate change worsen, it’s the girls who will have to shift activities to help their communities. This means they might have to drop out of school to help address issues associated with climate change, such as collecting water or becoming farmers to help families make ends meet, leaving them more vulnerable to early marriage."
Having grown up in Bolivia, Mirna knows the difficulties girls face. She became part of the Bolivian Girl Guides Association when she was six. Now, she’s a leader and, as part of her role, she is focusing on the Global Goal 13: Climate Action, and campaigning to ensure change happens.
Launched a year ago, the Global Goals are a series of ambitious targets to end extreme poverty and tackle climate change for everyone, and it’s a notion that’s at the forefront of Mirna’s mind.
“We can use the Global Goals to push decision-makers to move towards the change the planet needs, so the current challenges we are facing can be addressed,” says Mirna. “They also bring hope, reminding us it is possible to reach a consensus over all the intercultural and political differences.”
A committed campaigner, Mirna is also educating her fellow Girl Guides about why climate change needs to be tackled, through a range of non-formal education programmes.
“I want to influence as many people as possible to care about biodiversity related issues. At a grassroots level, I want to keep motivating my Girl Guides to work on environmental issues. At a national and global level, I want to network with young people from different regions focusing on biodiversity, as well as bringing solutions to the environmental crisis.”
Her campaign work is going well and it’s clear girls in Bolivia are passionate about the topic.
“The group of Girl Guides who want to learn more about the environment is increasing. At the beginning I was the only one in my group working on environmental issues, now there are many more who want to learn about it.”
As well as pursuing a Masters in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Mirna has also represented the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) at a range of high-level conferences, including the United Nations Climate Change Conference and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.
“For a young woman’s voice to be heard at these high-level conferences is a life-changing experience and it’s a responsibility we all take very seriously,” she says.
“It’s crucial girls and young women’s voices are heard. Empowering them through education and decent job opportunities means more resilient communities will be created, ensuring the coming generations will be aware and capable of how to build a better future.”
The Girl Guide and Girl Scout movement has been integral to Mirna’s journey, helping her to shape her values and beliefs.
“I owe a lot of my values, including the environmental ones, to the Girl Guiding Movement. My commitment towards nature comes from the outdoor activities I enjoyed as a Girl Guide. Being a Girl Guide leader helped me understand some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as poverty, sustainability and inequality, while I was able to develop my knowledge on environmental issues thanks to the non-formal education program,” says Mirna.
“Finally, my best friends, young women that I admire a lot, come from the movement, and I am still able to work with them. Now, as we come together to mark International Day of the Girl, it’s important to realise our full potential and to recognise that we don’t need to wait to grow up to make a big differences in the world. Change can happen now.”
Girls like Mirna around the world are working on projects to change their worlds, one step at a time.
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