Women Inclusion in Climate Change: A Drive for Dominance in Leadership
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People and governments all over the world are now debating climate change and its consequences. Climate change refers to the alteration of a location’s weather patterns over time. Natural disasters (drought and flood) and the gradual degradation of the environment are two ways that the negative effects of climate change can be felt over time. Agriculture and food security, water resources, human health, settlements and migration patterns, energy, transportation, industry, and the environment are all already feeling the effects of these changes. Climate change-causing activities such as Burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests and farming livestock must be stopped immediately in order to produce a more sustainable and adaptable ecosystem for everyone.
Climate change affects both men and women, but women and girls are especially vulnerable. Women and girls are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men, owing to the fact that they make up the majority of the world’s population and are more reliant on natural resources threatened by climate change. Because of systemic gender discrimination and societal expectations regarding gender roles, women are more affected by the negative effects of climate change than men; they also face social, economic, and political barriers that limit their ability to cope. These effects, which exacerbate already existing gender disparities and pose specific threats to the livelihoods, health, and safety of women and girls, are felt more acutely by them. Women in developing countries’ rural areas are especially vulnerable because they rely heavily on local natural resources (food, fuel, shelter and income) for a living. Women face the greatest challenge because they are responsible for obtaining food, water, and fuel for heating and cooking.
Climate change has harmed women in a variety of ways, including violations of their human rights. Women’s human rights, political and economic status, land ownership, housing conditions, exposure to violence, education, and health are frequently violated in developing countries. An additional stressor, climate change, will exacerbate women’s vulnerability. Domestic violence, sexual harassment, human trafficking, and rape against women are all known to rise during times of conflict. When natural disasters strike as a result of climate change , women face significant challenges in readjusting. Cases of increased violence against women and girls, increased risk of child marriage, and girls missing classes or dropping out of school are associated with climate change.The safety and security of girls and women is also jeopardized. Women and girls are disproportionately responsible for gathering household energy, water, and food in rural communities worldwide, so when the effects of climate change hit, they had to travel further and spend more time gathering these resources.
Women are perceived not only as victims of climate change due to their vulnerability, but also as active and effective agents and promoters of adaptation and mitigation. Women have long possessed knowledge and skills in natural resource management, food preservation and rationing, and water harvesting and storage. They have a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can be applied to disaster preparedness, adaptation, and mitigation strategies. In Africa, for example, elderly women serve as knowledge reservoirs due to inherited skills in disaster preparedness and early warning systems. This generational transfer of knowledge and experience has the potential to greatly improve local adaptive capacity while also preserving a community’s way of life. Furthermore, because of their roles as stewards of natural and domestic resources in families and communities, women are well-positioned to contribute to livelihood strategies that are adjusted to changing environmental realities.
Improved inclusion of women in decision-making at all levels would benefit both mitigation and adaptation policies. Indigenous women, in particular, who are the custodians of traditional and indigenous knowledge, are critical in developing climate-resilient policies. To preserve and apply traditional and indigenous knowledge, such groups must be empowered to share their knowledge in culturally appropriate and inclusive ways. Empowering women and educating men to achieve inclusive decision-making may result in improved adaptation and mitigation efforts. Women are change agents, so empowering women and traditionally marginalised groups while building their capacity for policymaking and decision-making could foster invaluable knowledge sharing across contexts, sectors, and levels.
Women are frequently unable to fully participate in the planning, creation, and implementation of climate change policies due to their underrepresentation in decision-making processes and the labour market. Women’s leadership and participation in climate action are linked to better governance, successful conversion, and disaster preparedness. According to evidence, women are natural leaders in local management organisations, community resilience development, disaster preparedness, and ministry. This is also true in the private sector, where increasing diversity in corporate boardrooms and C-suites has been shown to result in more climate-friendly policies: a 1% increase in the proportion of female firm managers results in a 0.5% decrease in CO2 emissions. Women, on the other hand, are currently underrepresented in climate change forums, such as the COP: at last year’s (2022) COP 27 , only 34 percent of committee members were women.
Women who stood for climate change
Women have stood up for climate actions and the effects of their works and actions will always be seen from generations to generations. Some of them include;
Christiana Figueres who headed a climate change — nonprofit for eight years and took on leadership of the United Nations Climate Change;
Anne Simpson who pushed the world’s biggest companies to disclose the risk climate change poses to their businesses which prompted companies like mining giant Glencore to cap coal production and oil and gas major shells to commit to emission — reduction targets.
Greta Thunberg, then 15 years old, started a school strike in Sweden to draw attention to the climate crisis and since then, her message has spread across the world.
Adrienne L. Hollis is the senior climate justice and health scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, where she leads the development, design, and implementation of methods for accessing and documenting the health impacts of climate change on communities of colour and other traditionally disenfranchised groups.
Furthermore, Jacqueline Patterson is the founder and executive director of The Chisholm Legacy Project, a resource hub for Black frontline climate justice leadership. Previously, she was senior director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Given that women are most vulnerable to climate change effects, this gives them the right to be at the forefront of leading climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.
Women can relate to the effects and recommend policies and initiatives that will be effective in mitigating and adapting climate change effects.
In conclusion, women’s involvement and participation in climate change have always produced more positive results for citizens’ needs, often increasing cooperation across party and ethnic lines and bringing about more sustainable peace. Furthermore, as a result of climate change, women’s leadership skills can hold their own, and in some cases outperform men’s results. We know that women can uncover solutions that we have yet to imagine. Women in Climate is the catalyst of a movement: women engaging more women, innovation inspiring further creativity and a network of expanding support for women everywhere to take action on this great challenge. Women have a local knowledge of leadership in sustainable resource management and many other sustainable practices in the home and community. As a result, women should be given more leadership roles in the climate change sector, as well as empowerments and training on climate change issues, to enable them to perform these roles effectively.
Mercy Akingbe is Junior Associate, Operations at Clean Technology Hub.