EMPOWER THE FIRST VICTIMS OF CLIMATE CHANGE TO TACKLE IT
This article is part of our ongoing series The Gender Imperative: Re-imagining Climate Action, in which the Women4Climate Daring Circle calls upon expert members of our global Women’s Forum community to provide their perspectives on the urgent need to promote women’s leadership on climate change, particularly in the present moment.
Half of humanity is now under lockdown to “flatten the curve”, which has already caused a boom in reported domestic abuse. Aside from the awful direct deaths from Covid-19 appears a less visible threat: women and children confined at home with their tormentors. Those collateral victims of the sanitary crisis also turn out to be the most affected by climate change, especially in developing countries. With several studies showing that the emergence of novel viruses is likely to be driven by deforestation, the latter being one of the reasons for the climate crisis, don’t the same causes have the same side effects on the most vulnerable ones?
However, there is no fatality: the mainly affected can and should be at the forefront of the war on climate change. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are all deeply interconnected, but there is one of particular importance. Number 5 – gender equality – is at the heart of this ecosystem thanks to its ripple effect. First and foremost, a literate woman is a battle that is won forever as she will never accept her own children to be illiterate, hence a positive impact on quality education. Educating women also improves their own health as well as their children’s and the communities’ as a whole. Women having access to employment generally give back what they receive: they invest a vast majority of their income into their families, thus reducing poverty. Article 12 of the Paris Agreement recognises the importance of environmental education and training. Women often take care of children in their early years and stand for most of the teachers and assistants in kindergartens and primary schools. If they are aware of the adverse impacts of climate change, of the urgent need to preserve biodiversity, they will be able to pass on the right messages to the little minds they are in charge of.
For organisations willing to contribute to carbon neutrality at a global level, ClimateSeed offers voluntary carbon projects that avoid or capture CO2 emissions. Contributors can select projects via an SDG filter and include co-benefits on SDG number 5 in their choice. A wide variety of those projects positively impacts gender equality. Household devices such as improved cookstoves or water purifiers in Asia allow women to save time on domestic chores. Afforestation projects in Africa promote gender equality in all levels of participation and leadership. In India, a program that prevents deforestation has implemented microfinance to uplift the economic status of women in the community, who also represent 50% of the program community facilitators. A similar project in South America focuses on giving access to health care and education to girls, and 30% of the jobs created or supported by the project are held by women. Fighting climate change can therefore foster gender equality and vice-versa, thus creating a virtuous circle instead of the downward spiral we are currently trapped in.
In terrible times where one can sometimes feel powerless, we cannot allow another tragedy to ensue: it is time to take the lead and sign the Women’s Forum Charter for Engagement.
Sign the Charter online on the following link http://sgiz.mobi/s3/Charter-for-Engagement-on-Women-Climate
The Women & Climate Daring Circle is led by BNP Paribas, in collaboration with L’Oréal and Microsoft and in association with Engie. The Daring Circle draws on contributors and experts from the UNFCCC, C40, R20, We Mean Business, and the OECD. KPMG is supporting this Daring Circle as knowledge partners and HEC as academic partner.