Adolescent Girls in the Climate Crisis: Voices from Zambia and Zimbabwe




This report details the key findings from the Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) on how climate change impacts on adolescent girls’ and young women’s access to education in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The research is centred on and carried out by young women researchers. Their individual experiences and analysis of the research process are as important as the research findings.

The report is written from the collective perspectives of the young women and adolescent girls involved.
It captures everything leading to the production of the report; including how they understood, analysed, and expressed themselves during the research process which involved detailed capacity building activities, data collection, analysis and writing workshops. Using a FPAR approach, this report is the result of a series of workshops that sought to develop a shared understanding of feminism, climate change, and the gendered impacts of climate change on education.

Research Aims

The overall objective of the research was to understand the impact climate change has on girls’ education in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Also, to provide evidence of the role of both formal and informal education to build adolescent girls’ and young women’s ability to adapt to climate extremes and contribute to a transition to a greener economy in these two countries. The research sought to build an evidence base that furthers understanding, through young women and adolescent girls’ views and lived experiences, of how climate change is reshaping their lives and their futures. Is it acting as a barrier to quality education and, if so, in what way? The research also sought to determine the views of young women and adolescent girls on the role of quality education to effectively address the urgent climaterelated challenges they face.

In the two countries, it was clear that the communities are all affected by climate change with varied implications. The most common climate shocks and stresses that they are experiencing are floods, shifting rainfall patterns and recuring droughts. All of which have resulted in food insecurity for most communities, given that so many of them rely on rain fed agriculture.

The study established that although there is limited technical understanding of the concept of climate change young women are experiencing the effects of the climate crisis due, in particular, to changes in rainfall patterns.

The research noted that climate change is affecting girls’ lives in many ways, and they are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Two of the most common impacts of climate change, noted in the research, are school dropouts and the challenge of child, early and forced marriages. From the adolescent girls’ perspective climate change has made gender inequality worse and increased their risk of sexual violence:

  • Girls are tasked with fetching water from long distances.
  • Extreme weather conditions mean schools are often inaccessible for adolescent girls.
  • Increased risk and vulnerability to physical and sexual abuse because of climate change when, for example, homes are destroyed and girls are forced to shelter in unsafe places.
  • Low school attendance by girls because of climate change induced challenges.
  • Limited opportunities of redress for survivors of physical and sexual violence as resources become increasingly limited.

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