A recent study from the UN found that 80% of displaced people by climate change are women. Why are women and girls more affected, you may ask? Generally, women carry the overly burdened responsibility to care for their children and provide food for their families. Whether in a developed or developing country, women are often the most reliant on natural resources for food preparation and other household duties. For many women in developing countries, there is no other option but to travel long distances for the provision and production of their food due to the environmental degradation near their homes. The extent of these effects goes beyond the lack of environmental resources as women also have to face economic instability, displacement, sexual violence and early removal from school. 

For the sustainability you don’t yet know.

We need equal representation in climate solutions policy-making

Written by Jasmine Gadoua

2021-11-14

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A recent study from the UN found that 80% of displaced people by climate change are women. Why are women and girls more affected, you may ask? Generally, women carry the overly burdened responsibility to care for their children and provide food for their families. Whether in a developed or developing country, women are often the most reliant on natural resources for food preparation and other household duties. For many women in developing countries, there is no other option but to travel long distances for the provision and production of their food due to the environmental degradation near their homes. The extent of these effects goes beyond the lack of environmental resources as women also have to face economic instability, displacement, sexual violence and early removal from school. 

Though women may be the most likely victim of environmental deterioration, they are also the leaders in the climate solution across various sectors, including but not limited to food security and health. Their innovations and expertise in these sectors have provided more effective climate solutions that have led to the maintenance of our planet’s ecosystems, natural resources and biological diversity and the improvement of livelihoods. Youth activist Greta Thunberg, US Congress Representative Alexandra Ocasio Ortez, Green New Deal leader Rhianna Gunn-Wright and indigenous climate activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim are some of many women contributing to the fight against climate change.

Many of these women have been able to use their voices within the federal level of the climate fight. However, they still hold a minority representation of decision-making for the climate solution. Take COP26, the majority of the attendees and decision-makers included white men. Despite the effort to introduce two new programmes to boost women’s climate leadership and support those most vulnerable to climate change, the predominant male representation in the climate solution makes prioritizing gender-responsive policies much more difficult as more focus on technological solutions lead the discussion amongst the world leaders. 

The reality is that climate change is not a male problem, it is a world problem. Including more women in the policy-making stage is a crucial aspect of the fight against climate change as it introduces another perspective to the climate solution. Empowering women and promoting gender equality has been a proven factor in achieving more effective climate solutions.

 Therefore, some solutions that society needs to consider to allow gender equality to be a solution for climate change include: 

    • Recognizing women as decision-makers, educators, experts and stakeholders across all sectors and at all levels.
    • Implementing climate into all aspects of the school curriculums to equip women with the skills and knowledge to participate in a green economy and aid in the climate solution. 
    • Supporting female entrepreneurs in technology and green sectors. 
    • Investing in women leading the agricultural labour forces in developing countries to have secure rights and land access. 

Hopefully, reading this article emphasizes the need to include gender-responsive climate action throughout all of COP26 instead of the allocated one day of discussion. If you are interested to learn more about the role gender equality plays in fighting climate change, I urge you to visit the Women’s Environment & Development Organization website. 

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