Women’s Potential to Lead the World to a More Sustainable Environment

There’s no denying that climate change affects everyone… everywhere.  But did you know poorer, low-lying countries actually suffer more as a result of climate change?  Did you known that within this already disadvantaged group of people, women and their children in rural areas are the most vulnerable when it comes to climate change? 

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated in their latest report “Price rises, which may be induced by climate shocks as well as other factors, have a disproportionate impact on the welfare of the poor in rural areas, such as female-headed households and those with limited access to modern agricultural inputs, infrastructure and education.”

As we have seen recently, leaders around the world have taken huge steps in tackling the issue of climate change.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a plan, at the beginning of June, which would reduce carbon emissions in the United States by 2030.  Days later, China introduced a cap on carbon emissions by 2030. 

Climate change poses enormous risks to the future of our planet.  The steps taken by the U.S. and China are monumental.  Now is the time for leaders and people around the world to take action against climate change and transition to clean, affordable, and renewable energy. 

This transition, to a sustainable environment, may very well start with women.  Women around the world are stepping up in major ways to combat climate change, playing essential roles in creating a more sustainable environment.  From Rachel Carson, who some say created the modern day green movement, to Wangari Maathai, known as Africa’s “tree woman”, who founded the green belt movement in Kenya, the list of influential women involved with environmental activism goes on. 

In the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women and the Environment report, it states that women, “As consumers, producers, caretakers of their families, and educators, play an important role in promoting sustainable development through their concern for the quality and sustainability of life for present and future generations”.  The report goes on to mention that women have often played leadership roles or taken the lead in promoting an environmental ethic, reducing resource use, and reusing and recycling resources to minimize waste and the excessive consumption. “Women can have a particularly powerful role in influencing sustainable consumption decisions”

Worldwide women, like Vandana Shiva and Jane Goodall, have been advocating for environmental conservation and a more sustainable environment for decades.  These women have inspired people around the world to take it upon themselves to join the crusade and start movements of their own. 

While the battle to combat climate change endures, the significant role women have played and continue to play in eradicating this issue is extremely important to recognize.   Women have a great potential to lead the world into the transition to a cleaner, more sustainable environment.

As Idiatou Camara, National Director of the Environment in Guinea, puts it, “Women have a greater awareness than men of the need to protect the environment for all humans.  Motivating them to take part in protecting the environment and managing disasters would harness their enthusiasm for the effort.  They would help develop the sense of responsibility all humans needed to maintain a good balance between humans and the earth’s resources.  Women needed to participate at the national level.”  The time for women around the world is now.

By Leah Ford, EDN