Climate change is not democratic
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of today. Since the topic gained popularity, we have been well aware of the change in climate patterns, global warming, the overuse of fossil fuels, and the externalities created by common forms of production. However, the main point is that the consequences of climate change are not equally distributed. Underdeveloped and/or developing countries suffer the most, as the unequal distribution of the ‘costs’ of environmental degradation is exacerbated by pre-existing social, economic, cultural, and also political structures, intrinsic to every country. In other words, the poorest countries and communities pay a higher price.
Why is climate change a women’s problem?
The majority of the world’s poor population are women. Likewise, they are one of the groups that are most affected by climate change. For this reason, it is crucial to apply a gendered perspective when dealing with this issue. As women are traditionally expected to perform tasks linked to the maintenance of the household, care of the family, and provision of food, they are the ones that need to adapt the most. Therefore, when advocating for climate action and climate justice, one cannot leave out social justice and gender equality, and vice-versa. That is why the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 present gender equality as its core, meaning that the failure to attain it will hinder all the other SDGs. Empowering women can result in real change, and as women remain absent from decision-making arenas, results will remain limited and exclusionary.
What is women’s role in fighting climate change?
As in other industries, also in the debate around climate change, women are given little space to speak up. Coming up with innovative ways to tackle climate change, women can turn from victims, as they are always portrayed in the mainstream narrative, to agents of change. Entrepreneurship, business, tech, and IT are fields in which women’s action to tackle climate change could be mobilized. Besides long-standing goals to address climate change, like the SDGs, some practical ways and solutions can be adopted every day to reduce the impact of climate change and support sustainability. In this sense, digital solutions launched by women are remarkable because they both contribute to women’s empowerment and climate action.
Stories of women standing up in the fight against climate change
The story of Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, professor, writer, environmentalist, and feminist is definitely is doing just this. She was editor-in-chief of the organization Project Drawdown, an NGO working to decrease the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through information-sharing on climate solutions. Project Drawdown collects and assesses feasible solutions to tackle climate change and makes them accessible to everyone. Last year, Project Drawdown included “Educating Girls and Family Planning” in its top 10 of strongest climate solutions. But Dr. Wilkinson’s impact doesn’t end there, she also co-founded and led other initiatives such as The All We Can Save Project, to support women in climate action, and a podcast “A Matter of Degrees”. In 2018, she held a TED Talk on climate change and gender equality that reached almost 2 million views.
More recently, another great initiative in the field is Women in Climate Tech (WiCT), launched in January 2021. WiTC is meant to serve as a platform for women experts of environmental issues to meet, connect, and raise their voices in the field. Lisa Veliz Waweru, Head of the WiCT Steering Committee, stated,
“Eighty percent of people displaced by climate impacts around the globe are women, and women are more likely to experience poverty, making recovery from extreme weather more difficult. We are excited to launch a vehicle that will elevate the voices of women working on solutions to these problems for the betterment of women, families, and the world."
What can digital solutions do?
Some say that the climate change issue is all about a leadership problem. Given that other industries, such as IT, engineering, and business, are already dominated by men, the debate around climate change cannot follow the same course. Digital solutions, together with tech and entrepreneurial initiatives, can and should involve women in tackling climate change. As women are more exposed to the effects of climate change, they need to have a seat at the table and advocate for climate justice and gender equality. In this respect, digital solutions can be the way to gather female experts, journalists, professors, and activists in general and bring about a change in leadership.
This article was written by Lilith Taraschi
Lilith Taraschi is based in the Netherlands. She is currently an intern for the MENA team at Womenpreneur Initiative. She is doing a Research Master in Middle Eastern studies at Leiden University.
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Womenpreneur is a non-for-profit organization, conducting activities in Belgium and in the MENA region. Since 2016, we have launched several initiatives and projects which aim to boost women’s economic participation and engagement in entrepreneurship and tech, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have reached and empowered more than 15 000 women since 2016.
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