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I Have a Word in Equality! Our guest is climate activist Melisa Akkuş!

Melisa Akkuş

Hello dear Melisa, we know you as a 17-year-old climate activist. How did your journey to joining the fight against climate and social injustice begin?

I've always been an excited, curious kid, generating ideas, and wanting to do something and change things. Everything started when I was very young, I experienced and saw a lot, and later on, I realized that I really wanted to do more, to have my voice heard in the world, to be the change in the world, and I wanted to change this bad course.

I really said to myself, "I want to change this trend, the world," and I started working hard.

After these thoughts, I started to struggle by saying, "Of course, we will save the world" by overcoming prejudices such as "Will you save the world, study your lessons" without wasting any time.

I researched, read, listened, participated, and volunteered, and in short, I tried everything and every way, and I continue to try.

Now I continue to fight actively and intensely, and I even transferred to open a high school in September 2021 to be able to do more activism.

We have done dozens of studies with the teams I am in, and we continue to do so. Countless meetings, events, projects, strikes… We did a lot together, we worked hard, and we made a lot of noise. Together, we continue to continue our struggle in the strongest way possible.

The main goal of ICHILD International Association of Child Rights Envoys is to take steps to ensure that every child is accepted as an equal citizen and subject by society. Can you briefly talk about your projects?

ICHILD is a place that changed my life. It is very important in my life. We did all the work we did together with great excitement and hope. A lot has been done at ICHILD, but I would like to tell you about the work I am involved in. So what did we do?

- "Climate justice is social justice!" As a result of long studies, we prepared the Declaration of Climate Justice and Environmental Rights. This declaration consists of 8 subject headings.

- Young Ideas for a Sustainable Future Workshop was held with the participation of 40 young people from 5 cities. Young people's expectations and solution suggestions for reducing inequalities and injustices, ending hunger and poverty, and controlling the climate crisis were reported.

- “Youth Advisory Board on Combating Inequality and Injustice” was established. I am in the "Discrimination and Gender Inequality in Education" working group at the Youth Advisory Board. What did we do as a team?

- We carried out a social media campaign saying "What does it matter" against us being interfered with in our lives.

- You can read some of the texts from our campaign below.

- “What do my sport, emotionality, and responsibilities have to do with my gender”

- "What does a 135-minute exam result have to do with my unique potential"

- “What does the mascara I put on my eyelashes or the outfit I wear have something to do with my success”

- Against the discrimination we are exposed to in our educational lives, for the youth in the 15-18 age group, “We want to make our voice heard and convey our demands against the inequalities we experience in our education life!” We published a research report called “We Have The Word”. We promoted the report “We have something to say about the discrimination we are exposed to in our education lives” on social media.

- As the Youth Advisory Board- Discrimination and Gender Inequality in Education team, we have carried out such important studies. There are 2 more projects we are working on at the moment and we continue to work with enthusiasm.

- You can read the rest of “ICHILD What We Did” below.

- As part of the Climate Diplomacy Week, we shot a short film about the climate crisis and food sharing as children. The short film “Tomorrow's Plate”, prepared with the contribution of 8 children, was prepared in the short film workshop titled “Youth Meet for Climate” financed by the European Union and conducted by ICHILD and STGM.

- Now, as children and young people, we are forming the organizational structure of the ICHILD Climate Movement. We are very, very excited about this move. We will have important announcements soon. This is how I can briefly summarize what we do at ICHILD. We are working together with great enthusiasm to make the world a better place.

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“Will the youth save the world?” One of the common prejudices you hear? Who will really save the world?

I think we will save the world. Especially as children and young people, we work hard against inequalities and injustices, we do our best. We are so strong when we fight together and I definitely think we can change the world.

“Climate Pioneers” consists of young people who seek solutions to the inequalities created by the global climate crisis as young people and who take the lead in change. As a climate pioneer, how would you assess the expected 200 million climate migrants in 25 years? It was envisaged that these communities would consist of those who contributed "least" to climate change. What inequalities do we face?

We call these “climate injustices”. The climate crisis is a complex problem with economic, social, political, and ecological implications. In many cases, various inequalities in these areas are among the causes of the climate crisis.

The climate crisis is exacerbating existing inequalities and injustices. The concept of climate justice tells us that the climate crisis, which is deepening the injustices we face on a global scale, is a problem of justice at its core.

The basis of climate justice, which has an important place in the problem of the climate crisis and our struggle, is to deal with ecology, climate crisis, and social justice together. The main problem that climate justice deals with is that those who have the least contribution to the occurrence of the climate crisis are the first and most deeply affected or will be affected by the consequences of the climate crisis.

We are all in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat. For these reasons, we always and everywhere say, “We want climate justice, right now!”

On March 25, you carried out a Global Climate Strike with the slogan #NoProfitPeople with the Fridays for Future call. Do you have organizations outside of Istanbul, how can young people in other provinces contribute to you?

As children and youth, we are working against the climate crisis with the slogan of "Pioneer the Change" in Climate Pioneers. At the Climate Pioneers, we also carry out activities so that each individual can carry out studies against the climate crisis in their own locality and organize the locals within themselves. High school and university students can make their ideas and dreams come true by applying to Climate Pioneers. If they do not want to join us but want to be informed about our work, they can join our Telegram group. We are excitedly waiting for you to join us!

Can you see demands and support from institutions and organizations for the Paris Climate Agreement? Can you receive requests and support from institutions and organizations for the implementation of your demands?

Our very important demands as young climate activists in Turkey. We prepared these demands together with the young climate movement and climate activists.

Our main demands, Urgently; Approving the Paris Climate Agreement, fulfilling its articles and declaring a Climate Emergency, taking steps to ensure net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, ensuring equal opportunities within the framework of climate justice and social justice, and being active at every stage of the decision-making processes as young people, We want to take place as equal voice and right holders!

Until the necessary measures are taken for the climate crisis all over the planet, we will make the voices of living beings affected by all ecological destructions and disasters and inanimate beings such as air, water and soil heard.

We expect decision-makers to make the same promise and take action! We need everyone's struggle so that our demands can be implemented immediately. Decision-makers need to start today, not tomorrow, and not delay this crisis any longer.

You started a campaign: “Teach Gender Equality in Schools!” You have called for a struggle for gender equality education to be included in the curriculum at all stages. We invite all our followers to support the campaign.

Why gender equality education is a must, why should they support this campaign? Can we also hear from you, can you repeat your call?

We are exposed to stereotypes and dozens of sexist discourses and inequalities at every stage of our lives. One of the places where we are exposed to gender-discriminatory discourses and stereotypes in schools. In our schools, our dreams are segregated by gender. This is exactly what I decided to start a campaign against; Let gender equality be included in the curriculum at every stage of education!

Every child should receive an education in an egalitarian environment. I urge everyone to sign my campaign to teach equality in the education curriculum.

We ask each of our guests in the column I Have a Word in Equality: What is Melisa Akkuş's word inequality?

We must all fight for equality starting today!

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