Women and Environmental Protection
Women suffer the most when it comes to climate change and natural disasters, yet in many areas around the world, women do not have a large say in the policies surrounding environment or how finances are used towards environmental protection. In areas where it has been tested though, empowering women can lead to better preparedness for disasters and better governance of natural resources. Overall, gender equality can lead to better environmental governance.
Rachel Carson created the modern day environmental movement with her book Silent Spring. Today women following her footsteps around the world are essential in the protection of our environment.
In Nepal and India, when more than the minimum threshold of one-third women participated in forest committees, it resulted in forest regeneration and a decrease in illegal extraction of forest resources.
Another success story took place in Kenya and Ethiopia, where women took a leadership role managing the risks regarding the 2005-08 drought cycle. The women generated income by diversifying livelihoods and then saved using women’s savings and loan groups. By doing this, women were able to preserve resources, which then lead to better food security.
Women also play an important role in protecting the environment because they can have a strong impact on the amount of carbon emissions in our atmosphere.
Due to gender norms that exist regarding labor in the household, many of women’s day-to-day tasks have a direct impact on carbon emissions. This means that when a goal is set to reduce carbon emissions, it is up to women to make environmentally friendly decisions regarding cooking, farming and what they purchase for their families.
Women’s decisions regarding cooking fuel, cooking technology and which foods they choose to buy have an impact on the amount of carbon emission released. Women also often have a say in agricultural practices that have an impact because they can determine whether carbon is released or stored in agricultural soils and above ground biomass. In many areas, women are the ones making household purchasing decisions at markets. Because of this women directly impact the amount of carbon emitted through the production, distribution, use and disposal of goods.
From leadership roles to every day decisions, women are an important component in protecting the environment for now and for future generations.
– Kim Tierney
Sources: World Bank, UN Women
Photo: Environment and Society