Empowering women is more important than ever in the face of climate change
We know that climate change has caused levels of people living in chronic hunger to rise since 2015.
Women are likely to feel the effects of climate change and reduced supply even more profoundly than their male counterparts as social conditions force them to accept less of diminishing resources. As the primary providers of food and water, especially during the dry season when men leave to work in urban areas, rural women will be forced to walk further to collect supplies for their families as water becomes less accessible.
UN agencies estimate that 80% of people displaced globally due to climate change are women. They have been forced to move due to inhospitable conditions, lack of resources, or conflict resulting from water and food shortages.
Often we can overlook social solutions, such as gender equality, in response to climate change and focus majorly on technological and scientific solutions, such as electric cars. A combination of addressing and utilising both are essential to solving climate change.
Project Drawdown, a global research project which identifies and assesses solutions to climate change, has identified three solutions that stem from improving the rights and wellbeing of women and girls. According to Project Drawdown, addressing the following factors simultaneously has the potential to reduce greenhouse gases pollution by over 100 gigatonnes by 2050. This is equivalent to what the world has produced over the last three years.
Ensuring every woman in developing countries has access to family planning not only improves the lives of women and children but also helps tackle climate change. To attain the UN’s population recommendation of 9.7 billion by 2050, family planning is necessary to slow population growth, which will therefore decrease the burden on natural resources.
Educated women have more choices open to them. In developing countries, however, girls face many barriers that stop them from going to school including child marriage, harassment or a lack of facilities at school. When girls are educated they are empowered, this will curb population growth. Education also builds resilience and equips girls with skills to face the challenges that climate change presents.
Women in agriculture face a variety of obstacles and constraints that their male counterparts do not, such as lack of access to training, machinery, and new technology. In developing countries, women in agriculture commonly lack the economic resources and income to invest in agricultural technologies and the knowledge to improve their practices. Providing women in developing countries with greater access to resources and land could produce greater crop and livestock yields, producing more food from the land and reducing pressure for deforestation.
With the proper adaptive techniques, communities can learn to adjust to the new realities of their environments while working to lessen the impact of climate change. Rural populations already have a low environmental impact as compared to urban ones, and small changes can go a long way in adjusting to new conditions. Women in Ethiopian villages, for example, invest in more durable homes, utilising The Hunger Project’s Epicentre credit savings programs to build structures that can protect their families against both natural and man-made changes.
It is more important than ever that we all continue to empower women around the world.
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This article was originally published by The Hunger Project Australia
Photography by Reinier van Oorsouw