What are the solutions which can address the particular ways in which women experience and fight climate change?
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Research shows that women are disproportionately impacted by climate change and that they are also the key to solving the environmental crisis. Ecofeminists argue that the historical oppression of women is incredibly similar to the domination of the land, and that their salvation goes hand in hand. And indeed, evidence shows time and again that women’s empowerment and advancing gender equality can improve things across many different sectors, including the environment. Economic security can improve, health, access to food, and even more environmentally friendly decision making at both household and national levels. Research has also shown that women adopt innovative and preventative measures at a faster rate than men. Furthermore, countries with more politicians that are women pass more ambitious climate policies. Empowering women through closing the large structural gaps that create gender inequality and accelerating climate action is essential for combatting climate change.
The environmental movement is often wrongly viewed as a middle-class, white movement. Mainly because it’s often the middle-class and white people who are given more press and attention, as epitomised through the cropping of Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan climate justice activist, from a picture with four white activists (one among them being household name Greta Thunberg). Women of Colour, Queer Women, Neurodivergent and Women with Disabilities are often side-lined, but it is imperative that their voices are amplified. Prevailing burdens from structural inequality also often means they bear a significantly heavier burden from the impacts of climate change. Moreover, in many countries in the Global South women are more vulnerable to extreme weather as they are responsible for their family’s food, water, and energy needs. To ensure climate solutions recognise the knowledge and needs of these groups, and to achieve climate justice, their voices must be amplified and their work must be supported.
Competition has been a driving force in our destruction of the world. The pressure to produce and consume has drained our resources. To the point that the Earth Overshoot Day in 2021, the day in which globally we consumed the level of resources that is sustainable for the planet, was at the end of July. Of course, countries, industries, and individuals vary in the amount of resources they consume, but the concept of the Earth Overshoot Day highlights there is something systemically wrong with how we are globally consuming. Alternative approaches are needed to not only stop this insane level of extraction but also to help restore and regenerate what we are currently losing. Our planet will benefit from a shift away from a capitalist and individualistic mindset, towards what has been traditionally viewed as the more feminine domain of cooperation and nurturing.
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