Women at the forefront of the fight against climate change

Environmental catastrophe affects everyone, but not equally all over the world. There is a significant disparity in the impact of climate change on different genders - climate change is not gender-neutral. According to data from the UN, 80% of those displaced by climate change are women. They are the ones who, as a result of natural disasters, are more likely than men to lose income and be left with more work.

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Environmental catastrophe affects everyone, but not equally all over the world. There is a significant disparity in the impact of climate change on different genders – climate change is not gender-neutral. According to data from the UN, 80% of those displaced by climate change are women. They are the ones who, as a result of natural disasters, are more likely than men to lose income and be left with more work.

One thing – go back for a moment to gender-neutral climate change. What is the definition? This environmental change affects gender in many ways, burdening women much more than men and in many aspects of life – economics, health care, employment, and education. Should we accept that women bear a greater cost of climate catastrophe due to unrelated circumstances?

The burden of climate change falls on women ​

Women, especially in developing countries, often bear the brunt of the effects of climate change, as they are more likely to be involved in agriculture and natural resource management. In South Sudan, due to the drought, children (girls) and women have to trek much farther for fuel and water, which takes more time and threatens their safety.

Households and ecology

Women are more often than men responsible for managing household resources, such as water and energy, and are therefore well-positioned to promote sustainable consumption practices and waste reduction.

The study by Räty and Carlsson-Kanyama presents energy consumption in male and female-headed households. Annual energy consumption in male-only households was 8% higher in Germany, 39% higher in Greece, 6% higher in Norway, and 22% higher in Sweden – men had significantly more energy-intensive lifestyles in all these countries than women.

The authors suggest that this state of affairs is related to differences in nutrition and transportation. Earlier studies indicate that the energy expenditure for men’s nutritional needs is 14-21% higher than for women. This is mainly due to the amount of meat consumed, while women eat more plants (fruits or vegetables), which have a lower carbon footprint than meat.

And transportation? As a rule, women drive low-burning cars, travel shorter distances, take friends or use public transport more often than men. This results in significantly lower energy consumption. 

So what are the implications of this? Women are instrumental in promoting sustainable practices in their households and communities.

Women managers are more likely to protect the climate

Did you expect a 1 percentage point increase in women’s participation in company management would lead to a 0.5% decrease in carbon emissions?

CEPR also cites an example of an interesting relationship. If female managers are more inclined to protect the environment than male managers, a company with more women in that position will likely show a greater reduction in carbon emissions. So – women managers can play an important role in reducing company pollution.

Another source confirms a similar relationship: in a sample of 9406 company observations between 2014 and 2020; it was noted that the higher the proportion of women managers, the higher the frequency of voluntary carbon disclosure.

Women leaders care about the climate

Based on the data from the Shesnnovation report by Perspektywy Education Foundation, we know that:

  • 85% of female leaders are making changes in their daily habits to counteract climate catastrophe

  • 74% of female leaders identified the climate crisis and pollution as the biggest challenge to humanity

  • 48% of young female leaders have a strong interest in climate issues. This is evident in the case of interest in conducting scientific research aimed at combating the climate crisis

A New Hope

A study by the United Nations Development Program found that women in developing countries are more likely than men to prioritize environmental issues and are more likely to support policies that promote sustainable development. This awareness raises the belief that women will have a major impact on the spread of sustainable development.

According to World Health Organization, the social dimension of climate change requires gender mainstreaming in response to climate change. It requires sustainability, a clear focus on adaptation and mitigation, and a strong commitment.

Equity and social justice cannot be achieved without recognizing the differences in vulnerability and strengths of all genders and the various factors contributing to that vulnerability.

Climate equality for women is security for future generations

The European Parliament’s January 16, 2018 resolution on women, gender equality, and climate justice recognized that gender equality is a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development and effectively managing the challenges of climate change. It emphasizes the need to understand that women are not only victims of climate catastrophe, but also motors for change, and should therefore receive government and institutional support.

According to the adopted text of the resolution, women should be equally decisive in issues of climate change prevention, their interests should represent a larger number of institutions; additionally, the gender aspect of climate disaster mitigation funding should be taken into account.

Almost every point underscores the importance of changing governance models for climate change work to one of equality. Regardless of countries, women play a critical role in the formation of the regional and global sustainable development economy, and the European Parliament encourages support for women, citing their high-quality specialization in the topic of ecology, nature, and climate protection and the fact that equality is also written into the Sustainable Development Goals.

Left the sustainable development and climate education to women

Women have actively advocated policies that promote sustainable development and environmental protection at the national and international levels. They have been instrumental in shaping environmental policy frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. They have been at the forefront of movements calling for action on climate change and environmental justice.

Women should lead on the path to sustainability

The Paris Agreement, one of the key documents sustainability activists are leaning on, includes gender equality (and other human rights) in its preamble. So we can expect work in sustainable business development to advance, disparities to be ironed out, and new ways to bring women to where they should be, according to all the above figures: at the forefront of the fight against climate change for future generations.

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