#HerstoryOfChange – Mercy Abutsa from Nigeria

Article by Arianna Paterino

As an ecofeminist network, we want to provide space for the stories of inspiring champions in the fields of gender equality and the fight against climate change and environmental pollution. We believe that a sustainable future and environment need feminist solutions reflecting the lives of people on the ground. That is why we work on transformative gender equality and women’s human rights in interconnection with sustainable development and climate justice. 

One of these champions is Mercy Abutsa 

Mercy works for the organization called WEP (Women Environmental Program) and she comes from the northern part of Nigeria. Mercy is a young climate activist and advocate; she loves inspiring and educating people about the current global crisis, spreading climate change issues from a gender perspective.  

WEP usually operates on the global level, because they have projects with the UNDP, WECF, and many other organizations located everywhere around the world. WEP has also participated in COPs, SBs and other global climate change conferences and discourses. Mercy, herself, individually spreads information about climate change on a local and national level. She states that she has not been part of the climate change movement for long since in Nigeria she has graduated in Mass Communication; this because, she explains, Nigerian schools miss climate education, while she strongly believes that climate change should be inserted in every program. Mercy has then come up with the idea of using the communication skills from her studies to talk about climate change, creating awareness through social media, writing and research. She usually shares her self-taught knowledge and the activities related to activism to inspire her followers. For example, in Nigeria there are several conferences and workshops that she attends to keep learning and share the information with the people who follow her. 

Moreover, her work has made an impact in her circle of people, family and friends. She has shared how her family, seeing what she does, has become more conscious about climate change and environmental issues. For instance, when she was young, she was seldom coming across people talking about the danger of acidic rain, but nobody knew the cause of it. Now it is possible to understand that climate change is drastically affecting acidic rainfall, just like persistent droughts in Northern Nigeria. She also shares how, whenever she shares initiatives around climate change on her channels, people text her asking how they can get involved. 

‘Making an impact with your close peers in everything’ 

While Mercy’s most favourite tool to spread her messages is social media, WEP builds its strength on community engagement and partnership. Mercy has shared how in Nigeria it is very difficult to do things on your own. As an organization, partners that work for the same goal are needed to build strong alliances. WEP has established strong partnerships for highlighting and inspiring projects. The creation of collaborations is important also because climate change is a global issue, so Nigeria cannot solve the problem on its own. 

Spark action training 

On the week from the 29th of May to the 1st of June CAN Europe gave, as part of the ClimAct Spark Programme, the opportunity to young climate activists to participate in a training in the city of Brussels. Mercy has taken part in the training and has referred to it as a very insightful and beautiful experience. She has shared how in Nigeria there are not a lot of movements and trainings that teaches about the global system and climate change. The training was about learning how the European Union works and how it tackles climate change. The training included also mobilization of youth, how to mobilize your peers through social media, and the intersection of climate and gender. As someone working in a gender organization (WEP), Mercy felt that it was important to talk about how every gender can be integrated in the climate movement. There are a lot of messages from the training that Mercy will bring back in her work, especially about mobilization and social media, including how to frame messages to make them more effective and reach a broader audience. Finally, she has shared how it is important to share everyone’s story, from everyone’s perspective and positionality, and what has brought each one of us to fight for a better world. What made Mercy feel hopeful was how every participant, even if they were from different countries and places, had the same common goal: climate reparations. Everyone agreed that a way forward to tackle the climate crisis is to make rich countries that have caused the crisis pay for what they have caused.