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‘Women Deliver’ Young Leader Roshni: Driving Change in Gender, Climate, and Digital Rights

Interviews'Women Deliver' Young Leader Roshni: Driving Change in Gender, Climate, and Digital Rights
By: Asim Nawaz

In a world where the global pursuit of gender equity and women’s rights remains paramount, Roshni, a passionate advocate and Women Deliver Young Leader, draws inspiration from her transformative experiences at one of the world’s largest conferences on gender equality. Her dedication to these causes, along with her impactful leadership on international youth advisory boards, her ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ campaign, and her representation of Pakistan at global climate summits, underscores her commitment to creating a brighter, more inclusive, and environmentally sustainable future. Roshni’s journey as a youth advocate and climate activist is a testament to her unwavering resolve to address digital rights, gender equality, and climate change, even in the face of challenges, and to amplify the voices of young people who are driving positive change on a global scale.

The Dayspring: As a Women Deliver Young Leader and a participant in one of the world’s largest global conferences on gender equality, can you share some key takeaways or experiences from this conference that have further fueled your dedication to promoting gender equity and women’s rights?

Roshni: Being a Women Deliver Young Leader and participating in one of the world’s largest global conferences on gender equality has truly been a transformative experience. One of the key takeaways from the conference was the immense power of collective action. Witnessing individuals and organizations from around the world coming together with a shared commitment to gender equality was inspiring. It reinforced my belief that change is possible when we unite and raise our voices for shared goals. Moreover, hearing first-hand stories of resilience from women and girls facing systemic challenges was a stark reminder of the urgency of our work. The conference also highlighted the importance of intersectionality in addressing gender issues. It’s important to recognize that gender equality is deeply rooted in other forms of discrimination and oppression. A key takeaway from the conference was the need for gender-just climate solutions. These solutions propose equitable access to resources, gender-responsive adaptation measures, women’s leadership in decision-making, and the integration of gender perspectives into climate policies. However, the highlight of the conference was the importance given to young people in all the events and discussions and the recognition of the imperative role of young leaders in driving transformative change on a global scale.

The Dayspring: You’ve served as a member of the World Bank Group’s Youth Advisory Board for Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) and as the General Secretary of the Youth Advisory Board of Oxfam GB. Could you share some of the most significant accomplishments or initiatives you led during your time in these roles?

Roshni: As a member of the World Bank Group’s Youth Advisory Board and during my tenure as the General Secretary of the Youth Advisory Board of Oxfam GB, I had the privilege of leading several initiatives. As the General Secretary of Oxfam YAB, I worked to promote digital rights, with a specific focus on girls and women by actively engaging in shaping the Digital Pakistan Policy to ensure that this policy included the perspectives of rural youth, especially girls. Moreover, to promote digital inclusion, I also launched a campaign, “ICT for Girls,” which aimed to address the digital divide in Pakistan and raise awareness about equal access to digital resources. Under my role on the World Bank Group’s Youth Advisory Board (S4YE), I collaborated with a global team of young leaders to identify and promote innovative solutions to youth unemployment. We worked on initiatives that aimed to provide employment opportunities for young people, especially in regions with high youth unemployment rates. Moreover, I also initiated ‘Climate Talks’ during my time on both advisory boards. This initiative focused on educating children in rural areas through engaging animated videos and organizing discussions for students in universities and colleges to raise awareness about climate change and encourage young people to be actively involved in addressing this critical global challenge.

The Dayspring: Your ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ campaign, which involved planting thousands of trees in climate-affected areas, is quite impressive. What motivated you to launch this campaign, and what impact has it had on the environment and the communities you worked with?

Roshni: The motivation behind launching the ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ campaign in Jamshoro, a district in Sindh significantly affected by climate change, stemmed from the urgent need to address the devastating impact of climate change in the region. In the past few years, Sindh has witnessed the severe consequences of climate change, including a rise in temperature, unprecedented rains, and floods.

Under this campaign, we planted 3,000 trees in different climate-affected areas with the help of rural women and girls. Recognizing that environmental degradation directly impacts the most vulnerable communities, including women, who play a crucial role as natural resource managers within the rural communities, the campaign served a dual purpose: making a tangible impact on the environment through planting trees in the climate-affected areas and involving rural women and girls to raise awareness about climate change and also provide them with a sense of agency and empowerment.

The Dayspring: You’ve represented Pakistan at international events like COP26 and COP27 and advocated for climate justice. Can you share your perspective on the role of young people in addressing global environmental challenges, and what specific actions do you believe are crucial for combating climate change on a global scale?

Roshni: Representing Pakistan at international events like COP26 and COP27 has been a powerful experience. It has reinforced my belief in the critical role that young people, especially from regions disproportionately impacted by climate change, play in addressing global environmental challenges. Our perspective is unique, as we witness firsthand the devastating impacts of climate change on our communities, agriculture, and livelihoods. Our voices carry the urgency of adaptation and resilience. To combat this global challenge effectively, young people can take specific actions. First, they can promote community-led climate solutions, recognizing that these solutions are often the most effective and sustainable. Secondly, demanding comprehensive climate education in our curriculums is essential. Informed youth can drive sustainable practices and advocate for climate action. Additionally, advocating for climate justice and just climate financing is paramount. They can do so by joining and initiating youth-led movements in their regions or by joining global movements because the collective power of young people is important in addressing climate change and fostering a sustainable future for all. Lastly, they can spread awareness and motivate others to take action.

The Dayspring: Can you tell us about your journey as a youth advocate and climate activist, and what inspired you to take on these roles, particularly in the context of digital rights, gender equality, and climate change?

Roshni: My journey as a youth advocate and climate activist has been deeply personal and transformative. Over the past five years, my mission has been driving positive change by amplifying the voices of young people and addressing critical issues related to digital rights, gender equality, and climate change. It wasn’t always easy, especially as a young female in a society where women in leadership roles are a rarity. However, I firmly believe that leadership transcends age and gender boundaries. What truly inspired me to take on these roles was the prevailing societal attitude towards young people in decision-making. Hailing from a region where access to quality education is a luxury for many young individuals, where awareness about basic rights is limited, and where young girls often lack access to technology, I felt a profound sense of responsibility. Moreover, every year, my region gets affected by the unprecedented impacts of climate change, including floods and extreme weather patterns, leaving communities vulnerable and further from achieving even the most fundamental aspects of life. These stark realities served as a powerful catalyst for my dedication to advocating for climate action, gender equality, and digital rights.

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