This week, International Women’s Day encouraged the world to #BeBoldforChange and take positive action. One of the issues raised by the campaign is how women around the world are being affected by climate change and other environmental issues.
According to Wikigender women, particularly those in poorer countries, are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In many countries the agricultural workforce is mostly women, who have less access to income-generating employment. Their work and ability to secure food, water and energy for their homes can be directly threatened by environmental problems such as drought and erratic rainfall. Women who manage households and care for family members may be less mobile and therefore more vulnerable to sudden weather-related natural disasters. Many young girls drop out of school to help their mothers, perpetuating this cycle of disadvantage and poverty.
Here in Australia, NSW government research indicates women (75%) are more likely to be concerned about environmental problems than men (67%); to believe what they do makes a difference; and to engage in environmentally friendly behaviours. The same research also showed that, on average, women engage in more ‘everyday’ environmentally friendly behaviours than men, and more women undertake each of the 10 ‘everyday’ behaviours (apart from composting) covered by the survey, including: choosing environmentally friendly household products; reducing water and energy consumption and food waste; avoiding plastic bags and products with excessive packaging; buying fewer unneeded items; and reusing something rather than throwing it away.
Bold Women Helping the Environment
Around the world women are confronting environmental problems front-on and bringing about real and lasting positive change:
Eva Mackinley from Tasmania is the founder of The Last Straw. Eva’s campaign aims to reduce the use of plastic straws in venues around Australia, to prevent them ending up as litter and in our ocean where they threaten wildlife and contaminate the water. In 2015 Eva won first prize as part of the Unleashed social change festival and $10,000 to continue her work.
Selina Juul started a revolution against food waste. Originally from Russia, Selina moved to Denmark when she was 13 and in 2008 founded the Stop Wasting Food movement. She volunteers 40 hours every week to continue her campaign, and works with politicians, celebrities and international media to spread her message. Selina’s campaign inspired Danish retail chain Rema 1000 to drop multi-buy discounts (encouraging consumers to buy less) and in 2013 the Danish Agriculture & Food Council reported that half of the Danish population had reduced their food waste.
Pelaghia Traci transformed an illegal landfill into a forest. A local councilor in the village of Taraclia, Moldova, Pelaghia worked with her community to relocate an illegal landfill to a legal site, away from the village’s 4,000 homes. The old landfill site was then cleared and is now home to a young forest of 2,000 healthy trees.
- By looking at your environmental impact and taking positive actions to reduce it you are helping to make life better for women, their families and their communities.
- Support campaigns and organisations that raise awareness of women in relation to environmental issues, like International Women’s Day, 1MillionWomen, and microfinance charities like Opportunity International and Kiva which provide women with small loans to start businesses and escape poverty.