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As the CEO and co-founder of Girl Rising, Christina Lowery uses storytelling to empower girls and young women around the world.

Girl Rising is an organization dedicated to female empowerment through filmmaking and female education. In addition to helping found and lead the organization, Lowery recently spearheaded the creation of a new initiative, Future Rising, that focuses on girls’ empowerment to address climate change.

By changing the narrative about the value of womens’ role in the climate crisis, Lowery’s work both creates new opportunities for young women and furthers climate action that improves global wellness.

Empowering Young Women Through Storytelling

Lowery co-founded Girl Rising in 2009 as a production company where girls and young women could find an outlet for telling their stories. In 2017, she led the organization’s transition from a media company to a nonprofit.

At Girl Rising, Lowery says, “We create, we collaborate and we activate.” This includes creating stories with, by, and about girls, collaborating in eight different countries with about 20 local organizations. Lowery says that, then, “we use that media content to activate and galvanize a broad movement…to support girls and gender equity.”

Girl Rising’s more recent Future Rising initiative centers female empowerment as one of the most powerful solutions to the climate crisis. Future Rising sponsors fellows who are young women ages 17 – 25 “working in their communities at the intersection of climate change, environmental justice, gender justice,” Lowery says.

“We support them with financial resources, with leadership skills, and really importantly, with storytelling skills,” so they can continue their important work while also spreading the word about climate action.

Handing the Mics to Young Women

Before Future Rising launched, Girl Rising had plans to create a documentary about young women and the climate crisis.

That plan transformed into the creation of the Future Rising program when Lowery realized “It was really important to listen to the voices and hear directly from the young women who are on the front lines of this, who are being impacted first and worst by climate change, but who are also leading solutions in their community. We decided it was critical for us to hand over the cameras and hand over the mics to these young people.”

This is especially impactful because, Lowery says, “Girls and women are the ones who have the most intimate knowledge of food security, water security, energy security;” this is true in many communities due to responsibilities related to gendered roles. “They are perfectly poised to be incredibly important change agents and part of the solution.”

By empowering them to use that knowledge on a broader stage, Future Rising helps them make a bigger difference.

The Impact of Future Rising

Since Future Rising was launched, its fellows have worked on meaningful community-based climate action that changes the stories told about the climate crisis in their communities.

Julieta Martinez at COP

For example, Julieta Martinez of Chile is a Future Rising fellow who created a website when she was just 14 years old for young Chilean women about the climate crisis. That site promoted both local action and policy advocacy. Her climate work has only grown in scope. Recently, she surveyed thousands of girls around Latin America about their goals for climate action and helped write articles for the new Chilean constitution.

Mercy Kamonjo

Another fellow is Mercy Kamonjo of Kenya, who is teaching pastoralist women new approaches to agriculture to help them adapt to climate change. Kenya has suffered from a prolonged drought that upended agricultural communities’ way of life, but Kamonjo is using the support of Future Rising to help communities adopt a form of agriculture that requires less water.

Future Rising combines its history of storytelling and advocacy with the power of young women’s innovation, resulting in local climate action that uplifts community wellness. When organizations acknowledge and uplift women and girls’ unique experiences in society, as well as the opportunities they present, meaningful and lasting change is possible.