Women Caught in the Climate Change-Gender Inequality Loop
Published on: 15.04.2021
While people are fighting for a world where gender is neither a plus nor a minus, climate change is not gender-neutral. It undermines gender equality (SDG 5) by making women’s lives harder compared to men. Various studies show that even though climate change is a global phenomenon, women are disproportionally impacted. (UNDP Linkages Gender and CC pdf) Over 80 percent of the people affected by climate change are women (2015 data). The occurrence has been noticed not only in poor and rural areas but also in big cities and developed countries. The impacts of climate change add up to other issues that women and girls face, such as poverty, violence, lack of access to education and human rights, lower pay, inadequate healthcare, etc.
Therefore, the Paris Agreement included a point that guarantees that women not only get support to deal with the impacts of climate change but are also have their say in climate decision-making.
Ecofeminism, a new word for ancient wisdom
It’s because of the aforementioned reasons that women have been at the forefront of movements against environmental destruction since the beginning. They were the first to organize protests marches, strikes and over the years took up the streets and the lead of the climate movement.
The women’s commitment towards nature dates back to 1974 when the term ecofeminism was coined by French feminist Francoise d’Eaubonne. The word was new but the concept was ancient. Authors of the Ecofeminism book Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva (1993) would say that it was a new term for ancient wisdom that grew out of various social movements – the feminist, peace, and ecology movements. Ecofeminism saw a connection between the way how women and nature were treated. Moreover, Mies and Shiva reached the same conclusion mentioned above: women were likely to get more affected by ecological disasters compared to men.
Meanwhile, the Encyclopedia Britannica says that “ecofeminism uses the basic feminist tenets of equality between genders, a revaluing of non-patriarchal or nonlinear structures, and a view of the world that respects organic processes, holistic connections, and the merits of intuition and collaboration.”
On the other hand, the movement received criticism from many feminists for its technophobia and for the inability to address the struggles of women of color and indigenous people.
In response, new movements emerged and brought up perspectives by women of color and indigenous groups.
It seems that women are caught in an ongoing loop of gender inequality and climate change. Yet women are large contributors to sustainable development. Hence, that’s why people, no matter what their gender is must be provided the same opportunities and participation level in decision making.
What is the situation of women in your community? Do they have the same rights and representation as men? What would you do to help achieve SDG 5? Share your thoughts or join the Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition with an idea or project. Don’t forget to take the online training to learn how to find great ideas out of big problems.
Read also: How to Make Progress Toward Gender Equality