On United Nations International Day of the Girl, Glasgow has launched a portrait exhibition in honour of the inspiring women who attended COP26 last year and were part of the pioneering and award winning ‘#GirlsAtCOP26’ two-week mini-climate conference.

“Fundamental to these events were girls in Glasgow hearing and seeing themselves reflected back and energised to take action,” says Bailie Annette Christie, Glasgow’s City Convener for Culture, Sport & International Relations.

“Our talks and the exhibition feature women working in the council and wider city who deservedly shared a platform with global experts, demonstrating how Glasgow is a frontrunner city in the Race to Net Zero.”

When Glasgow hosted the Conference of the Parties, COP26, in November 2021, a parallel event took place in the Scottish city with a particular focus on Sustainable Development Goal 5, on gender equality, and the nexus between the climate emergency and gender.

The ‘Girls at COP26’ conference saw 2,500 high school girls attend panel discussions with female industry specialists to discuss various themes and the connection between climate and gender.

“On the Road to COP27 we must empower women and girls further as holders of knowledge, educators, caregivers and agents of social change to improve climate mitigation and adaptation policy interventions,” says Christie.

The theme days included the future of work and the green economy, data and design, fashion and food systems, cultural heritage and climate refugees.

“The solutions may be feminist but as Mary Robinson has said a feminist solution must include as many men as possible. It is a balanced solution between women and men but done the woman’s way,” adds Christie.

Where the problems are man-made, the solutions are feminist

Panellists for ‘Girls at COP26’ included women from Glasgow’s peer cities and networks, ensuring that both local and global issues were examined. Connections were made to cultivate collective action and build global solidarity.

Some of these themed panel discussions were moderated by Amal Azzudin, a human rights activist who along with school friends led the ‘Glasgow Girls’ campaign in 2005 against the detention of refugee families seeking protection.

“Young women have been leading globally on climate change and ‘Girls at COP26’ demonstrated that the appetite for climate justice is strong in our schools,” Azzudin says. “The girls heard from world-leading women working in Glasgow and across the globe, who are transforming our city and the planet for the better”.

For Kris Kesiak, the photographer who documented the events, “getting the opportunity to meet, listen to, and photograph such a diverse range of women was a privilege. All of them were truly inspiring and formidable; I hope I did them justice and that this work plays a part in documenting the role women are playing here in Glasgow and beyond.”