TIME Magazine recently released its Women of the Year 2023 list, which features 12 women from different parts of the world who are making a significant impact in various fields, including sports, politics, activism, and arts. Among the women recognized is Pakistani climate change activist Ayisha Siddiqa.
Siddiqa, who is 24 years old, is a human rights and climate defender who uses poetry as a form of expression. Her poem, “So much about your sustainability, my people are dying to point out how the leaders have failed their nations,” was shared at the annual UN Climate Conference in Egypt last November.
Ayisha hails from a tribal community in Northern Pakistan and was motivated to become a climate and human rights defender after personally experiencing the effects of climate change at the age of 14. She has since become a significant voice in climate change activism and last year, she presented her poem “So much about your sustainability, my people are dying” at the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
Siddiqa began her activism at the young age of 16 and has been working towards promoting climate sustainability for the past 24 years. Her focus has been on highlighting the impact of climate change in countries with lower incomes that are most affected by it.
Growing up in a matriarchal household, Siddiqa learned the importance of protecting the vulnerable and holding polluters accountable. She told TIME, “I was raised with the idea that the earth is a living being, that she gives life to you and in return, you have a responsibility. And I think we, collectively, have come to a point where we are ignoring the cries of the earth’s mother.”
Other women on the list include Australian actor Cate Blanchett, American actor Angela Bassett, Somalian professional boxer Ramla Ali, American singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, Minister of Racial Equality of Brazil Anielle Franco, Ukrainian women’s and LGBT rights activist Olena Shevchenko, Mexican human rights activist Verónica Cruz Sánchez, Iranian-American journalist, author and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad, American soccer player Megan Rapinoe, Japanese incoming CEO Makiko Ono and American writer Quinta Brunson.