"Because Women do more than inspire change: They create it"
The theme of International Women’s Day 2014 is Inspiring Change – so timely given the convulsions of social and political change that have taken place over the past few months. And if you look closely at those who are leading change agents in Kiev, Cairo, Buenos Aires, Washington, and Juba, you will see large numbers of women. Women are not only responsible for inspiring change, they are also implementing it.
So it is no surprise that from Africa to Latin America to Asia and North America, women refuse to be passive actors as the planet faces one of its most crushing threats: climate change.
In Egypt, women envisioned a water taxi network on the Nile owned and operated by women to reduce emissions and provide fast, reliable public transport amidst the gridlocked Cairo transport system.
In Liberia, women aspire to assist the government in the collection of meteorological data to forecast the weather, acting as an early-warning system for storms and identifying and reporting environmental offenses.
Women in Mozambique are planning to develop climate change kits that include traditional medicines to help cope with some of the health impacts of climate change. For example, they contain citronella to help control mosquitos.
In Australia, the One Million Women Campaign will reduce one million tons of carbon – the equivalent of taking 240,000 cars off the road for a year.
Women frequently take the lead in adapting to climate change impacts, and play a key role in mitigating climate change by optimizing energy efficiency, using low-footprint energy sources and techniques, and influencing a household’s and community’s consumption patterns. Women do more than inspire change: They create it.
That is why we have been working with governments around the world to establish official climate change plans that make these steps forward —and gender equality and women’s empowerment—more visible. And to ensure that countries are taking action, we released the first ever Environment and Gender Index in November 2013.
Women’s participation in decision making at higher levels has specifically benefited environmental policy, such that countries with a higher number of women in their parliaments are more likely to set aside protected land areas and ratify international environmental treaties. In fact, recent data reveals that there is a causal relationship between environment and gender; when gender inequality is high, forest depletion, air pollution and other measures of environmental degradation are also high.
International Women’s Day is an ideal time to reflect on how far women have come in the climate change space and how much farther we have to go. One household, one community, one nation at a time, women can take the lead in sustaining our fragile planet.