Climate Change Strike (copy)

Climate change protestors march across campus, Sept. 20, 2019.

Though some remain skeptical of rising ocean levels and dramatic changes in temperatures, it is an undeniable truth that our climate as we know it is drastically changing. Climate change is an overarching problem that must be addressed now if we wish to continue even debating other issues. Though multifaceted in nature, with many knots to untie if ever to be solved, one area that should have no contention is the education of our female population. The heart of the matter is that women around the world serve as an untapped resource in taking up the fight against climate change. Increasing their education and autonomy is a major priority backed by the likes of former President Jimmy Carter in a Time magazine publication. The time to act against this encroaching menace is running out, and promoting new ways of combating this issue should be readily looked into.

Women are especially vulnerable in underdeveloped countries, where there is a higher dependence on natural resource extraction and use. They face greater burdens from climate change impacts, along with their unequal participation in decision processes, which furthers the gap of inequality within the market. Water and sanitation are a key area that is impacted by climate change, with women facing greater health risks and having to take increased domestic and care work as these vital resources run out. One does not have to look so far to find many articles on how women travel tens of miles to collect water in any container they can find. Increased droughts and soil erosion disenfranchise women farmers, “who are the majority of the agricultural workforce in Africa.” This combined with a lack of reliable energy sources forces families into further poverty, with women having to leave school and take up more economic responsibility at home. Having women around is not enough to tap into their contributions as much as full integration into the policy and know-how of climate change could be.

Women power the homes and educational facilities of many countries, and increasing their involvement among less developed countries can help spread knowledge of climate change to others. Women also aid in initiatives by reducing household carbon footprints and advocating in environmental groups. Their key role within communities gives them a local’s perspective on how to manage resources sustainably, with increased political participation allowing greater responsiveness to citizen’s needs, policies, and projects. A champion of the female environmental movement can be found in Greta Thunberg, a vocal young girl whose determination has inspired protests and calls for reform. It is surprising to see that with all the aid that women can provide, only “0.2% of all philanthropic giving is provided to women-led environmental programs.” We must correct this error and promote women into positions of leadership, like the Carter Foundation, if we wish to fully integrate meaningful reform.

Currently, a bill has been introduced in the Senate which could rapidly increase women’s participation against climate change. The Women and Climate Change Act of 2019 recognizes the increased strain that women take on in their lives because of climate change, and that these efforts would be of better use in “policy, program, and community decision-making processes with respect to climate change.” Even the United Nations has said that there can be no comprehensive solution without the full participation of the global population. 

Women continue to suffer the brunt of climate change while not enjoying a voice in policies addressing it. Ensuring that women become more socially and economically dependent could lead to higher female parliamentary representation, and utilization of resources in more sustainable ways. The fight against this danger does not have to be so undermanned, as it will take a diverse cast of people to wrestle with the task at hand.

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