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Thao Nguyen: I went to Washington, and all you got was this blog

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Right now, the US Senate is drafting language for a new climate bill—and if we don’t take action, the world’s poorest communities may not get the resources they need to fight climate change. Find out how you can help.

Guest blogger Thao Nguyen (of Thao with the Get Down Stay Down), is a San Francisco-based singer-songwriter. Her latest album “Know Better, Learn Faster” was released in 2009.

Thao Nguyen, left, interviews climate witness Constance Okollet. Photo: Chelsea Brass / Oxfam America
Thao Nguyen, left, interviews climate witness Constance Okollet. Photo: Chelsea Brass / Oxfam America

I have no stripes to be a climate leader, but I do have the privilege of serving as an Oxfam America Sisters on the Planet ambassador. I share the honor with hundreds of wildly impressive and inspiring women from all over the US—former senators, interfaith workers, journalists, the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, etc.—all social and environmental justice advocates of admirable proportions.

Last month, we gathered for a summit in Washington, DC, to talk and learn and vent and stir frustration and advocacy on behalf of women who are very busy with other things related to climate change. Examples of these other things: extreme drought, severe flooding, erratic rainfall, land erosion, hunger, disease, thirst, living. 

The goal of Sisters on the Planet is to direct attention, funding, and political empowerment to those who are closest and most vulnerable to the effects of climate change: poor women. They are the primary food growers, providers and heads and spines of households everywhere.

You can relate to this very intimately because your mom has done and still does a lot of things for you. If you are like me, a child of suburbs which have not and probably never will be notably affected by climate change because strip malls make good shields, it is difficult to grasp how catastrophic these events are for vulnerable communities, and women in particular. Imagine how hard it is already to keep a family healthy and fed and then imagine the earth convulsing, scorching and spitting at you while you are trying to survive in ways that have always worked before.

Then, can you fathom: you and your family have never been in a position to cause such a natural fury but you do happen to be in a position to absorb it first. Lastly, imagine that people who did and do contribute to the destructive turbulence of climate change defer their responsibility and moral obligation and instead lull in the luxury of debating its very existence. 

*Dear John Lennon: I’m sorry for that last bit, asking people to imagine only negative things.

What I learned at the summit, and why I’m involved: Climate change is a women’s issue. We cannot rely upon the women of the world to bear and sustain life throughout their lifetimes and then make it nearly impossible for them to do so and then refuse to help.

State representatives will do what they believe their constituents want. Those in office lead according to the lean of those who accorded them such power. If we can stir our fellow constituents to care for and respect the empowerment of women, then we can all compel each other to act.  Join me and take action today.

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