Decreasing barriers to women in the workplace can shift the balance of power and help us to move forward on a host
of sustainability issues.
Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8, so this is an
opportune time to review the importance of women to the health of the planet.
While women represent roughly half of the population, they have yet to assume
their rightful role at the highest levels of decision making.
We have good reason to believe that as the power of women grows, they will be
a civilizing force in business. There are a number of female environmentalists who
have played pivotal roles over the years. There are also a number of studies
which show that women are better for
the environment than their male counterparts.
Here is a series of comprehensive lists of female environmentalists
from well known environmental organizations and individuals. From
activists to sustainability focused business women, this ethnically and
geographically diverse group of women includes both young and old and
everything in between.
While we are seeing a growing number of young feminist climate activists,
there is still so much that needs to be done in the area of gender
equality. The inclusion of women is key to climate action. Whether in
the workplace or in the home, women are the greener sex. Simply put, empowering women is synonymous with climate action.
On International Women’s Day 2016 we mourn the loss of Berta Cáceres, a
truly heroic environmental organizer. On March 3rd she was gunned down
in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca in Honduras. Her assassins are
still at large and unlikely to ever be brought to justice.
Berta was an indigenous women who championed land and resource rights.
In 1993 she co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous
Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). She was a dedicated protector of
the natural world who bravely stood up to powerful corporations, corrupt
governments and police with ties to death squads.
If we want to address climate change around the world and in the
developing world in particular we need to see more women in leadership
roles. There is good evidence to support the idea that when women lead
communities are more sustainable.
Climate change is a critical issue for everyone, but it is especially
hard on women. Happily women are also an essential part of the solution,
not only because they make up half (48.1), but because women tend to be
more green in their lifestyle choices and women in the workforce tend
to more sustainable.
According to a large number of studies, women are greener than men in both their attitudes and their actions. One study
shows that women have a greater stake in managing climate change as
they are “more likely to lose their lives and otherwise fare worse than
men in extreme events from heat waves to hurricanes and tsunamis.”
According to an international survey by Synovate, women are greener than
men. A study published by France’s National Institute of Statistics and
Economics shows that women emit less carbon than men. Men emit an
average of 39.3 kilograms of carbon per day, women emit an average of
32.3 kilograms of carbon per day.
The inaugural It’s Time 2015: The Partnership Summit to Elevate Women’s
Leadership, will take place the inaugural summit will take place May
1-3, 2015 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
It’s Time 2015 will feature Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. This
cross-sector initiative brings women and men together to achieve gender
equity and empower women and girls at all levels to be leaders. It is
expected to draw up to 2,500 attendees representing a full spectrum of
social and economic diversity, while satellite events occur
simultaneously in partner cities across the U.S.
It’s Time Network is a diverse network of women and men working to
evolve democracy and affirm the value of interdependence between all
people and groups. Building connections between political leaders, grass
roots activists, local communities, and national associations, ITN’s
mission is to generate awareness around the importance of empowering
women and girls and galvanize action across a range of issues including:
Women are on the front lines of climate change and environmental
degradation and this is particularly true of indigenous women. Those who
are socially and economically disadvantaged will be the hardest hit so
this is an immense concern to indigenous women and the situation is even
worse for such women living in developing countries.
The climate-induced environmental threats they face include sea-level
rise and shifts in the ranges of important species of food bearing
Environmental insults are compounding the climate crisis. This is more
than just a disruptive inconvenience for indigenous women, it is a
direct threat to their physical, social and economic well being. For
these women, many of whom live in a very close relationship with the
natural world, climate change is an existential threat.
Women advocated for climate justice with a day of action on February 14th 2014. A group known as WECAN
(Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network) took action for mother Earth
and climate justice in collaboration with One Billion Rising for
Leading up to and on February 14th WECAN’s members documented women-led
solutions, testimonies and successes in the field of environmental and
climate justice throughout the world. Click here to see these actions.
Women are among the first to feel the impact of climate impacts.
However, women are also at the forefront of efforts to find and
implement sustainable solutions. Here are some of the female climate
justice leaders assembled by the staff at 350.org for International Women’s Day.
– Melina Laboucan-Massimo: Climate & Energy Campaigner Greenpeace Alberta Tar Sands Campaign
“She’s an amazing leader from the frontlines of the tar sands and has
worked tirelessly to connect the issue of missing & murdered
indigenous women with climate justice.”
– Lidy Nacpil: Convener of the Philippine Movement for Climate
Justice and Asia coordinator of Jubilee South, vice president of the
Freedom from Debt Coalition of the Philippines. She also serves on the
board of 350.org and is the coordinator of the Global Campaign to Demand
Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland is widely regarded as the mother of sustainable
development and she is a highly effective political and environmental
activist. On January 18, 2016, Dr. Brundtland received a Lifetime
Achievement Award at the Zayed Future Energy Prize 2016 for her global
leadership on sustainability. Dr. Brundtland is the first female
recipient of this award.
On behalf of the UN Foundation, President and CEO Kathy Calvin
congratulated Dr. Brundtland and highlighted the legacy of her work:
Women can bring a vast array of skills into business, this includes a
greater awareness of the value of sustainability. Despite this fact
women represent only 17 percent of the membership of Fortune 500 boards
of directors. In this video professor Kellie McElhaney of the University
of California Haas School of Business profiles the gender gap in the
corporate board rooms and outlines specific barriers and best practices
for addressing this situation.