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Balangaw is a Filipino term for “rainbow,” signifying hope, sunshine after a storm, and the promise of a brighter future. It is also a symbol of diversity and inclusivity after the storm of misogyny and inequality.
It is, therefore, no surprise that the Greenpeace team in the Philippines adapted the term for the Rainbow Warrior’s ship tour in the country that is carrying, for the first time, the call of the Climate Justice movement. Because, aside from mirroring the name of the global organization’s most iconic ship, the movement itself is very much premised on giving voice to those whose voices are stifled, empowering those who are marginalized, lifting up communities that are struggling to recover, and speaking truth to power.
The movement wants to change the status quo, where those who are least responsible for climate change are the ones bearing the brunt of its consequences. It seeks to change the prevailing narrative where the onus of responsibility for carbon emissions is placed on households and individuals rather than the big corporate polluters who have been lining their own pockets at the expense of people and the planet. Worse, these corporations have known for decades the consequences of their greed but, instead of taking positive action, they tried to cover up the truth.
So it also isn’t surprising that the Climate Justice movement is being spearheaded by women. You probably know about the Outstanding Women of the Climate Justice movement. But beyond these amazing individuals featured during global climate negotiations, there are numerous more mothers, sisters and daughters who — being no strangers to caring, multi-tasking, nurturing and thinking about the future — have taken it upon themselves to do more to ensure a brighter, more hopeful life on our planet for the generations to come.
In the tradition of my own Mom’s very, very selfless loving care and attention, I would like to also give tribute to the women who stand and act in the background selflessly to ensure that the Climate Justice movement achieves what it set out to do: change the world.
These are the Backstanding Women of Climate Justice.
The all-women Balangaw Actions Team
Despite being a very new team with members trained just this year, the Actions Team pulled off traditional Greenpeace stunts and activities for the ship tour, not only with flying (rainbow) colors, but with definite style, panache and FIERCE attitude! It doesn’t matter if you’re a self-confessed “girly girl,” a numbers geek, or a quiet individual, the only prerequisite for becoming a member of the climb team or the boat team is heart and passion…and proper training, of course. These women are my idols!
The All-women Legal Team in the CHR Case
The Balangaw Ship Tour isn’t just an outreach tour to amplify the voices of communities and highlight solutions to the climate crisis, it is also serving as a build-up activity for the movement, as petitioners gird up for the upcoming public hearings to be conducted on March 27 and 28 by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) of the Philippines in its investigations into the responsibility of big polluters for human rights harms as a result of climate change. Who better to represent petitioners, composed of farmers and fisherfolk, impacted communities and individuals, than an all-women team?
The Women Leaders comprising the Balangaw core team
Attention-to-details; ensured staff care; professional yet very open lines of communication; ensured ownership by the community and partners of activities over Greenpeace’s own branding and other traditions… These are just some of the “new” ways of campaigning and managing that speak to how the movement is changing things inside and out. These were only possible because most of our colleagues calling the shots were women.
The All-women Fundraising Team
Greenpeace keeps itself independent of corporations and governments mostly through individual donations. This would not be possible without the hardworking FR teams across the world. In the Philippines, it is again an all-women team communicating to donors and possible supporters what the organization is doing to make the world better for the next generation.
The Balangaw Communications Team
I would be remiss if I don’t represent my own house. I am the odd brother in a commune of sisters. They are my bosses and they have determined very much how the movement’s messages and voices come across to the public. They formulated your engagement journey in this complex voyage called Climate Justice. And they are the most creative and determined women I have ever met. The team handles communications planning, traditional media, digital communications including social media, key influencers, and images and documentation.
JP Agcaoili is Communications and Digital Manager at Greenpeace Southeast Asia based in Manila, Philippines.