Women representation matters more than you think on the global combat with climate change
Sustainable Development Goals: Women representation matters more than you think on the global combat with climate change
In the Paris Climate agreement, it clearly states that gender equality and sufficient representation for women is a critical component of the ongoing efforts to relieve the effects of the climate change and contain global warming before the results get even more severe. The agreement urges parties to empower women, pointing out women had to bear significant portion of the unwanted effects of the climate change. It is shown that women make up 80% of the total number of people who had to be displaced as a result of the climate change.
Nevertheless, women do not stay silent to this situation. Growing body of work suggests that women leaders carry out more ambitious and out of the box solutions in order to help tackle the problems. Therefore, there is an important case to be made which shows that more women representation in the politics will yield better results. Here is why:
- On the personal level, Collins shows that on average women use 22% less energy than men. This is due to several factors such as less consumption of meat products and processed drinks, more efficient use of household energy consumption and overall more mindful practices. - On a more societal level, given the chance, women are more likely to use their leadership to push the climate relieving efforts. On top of this, since women have a tougher road to reach leadership positions compared to men, due to discrimination, they tend to be more innovative and hardworking, while making most of it once they achieve it. Especially, in the realm of transition to renewable energy, women proved that they are more ambitious.
To give examples, after getting elected, Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and her women heavy cabinet declared a climate emergency and set the aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2025. This compared to most male-lead nations is much more of an ambitious goal.
The Women in Sustainable Energy and Entrepreneurship of Kenya (WISEE), are also trying to push the agenda of sustainable energy transformation. Through education, entrepreneurship and leadership programs they are trying to build momentum around solar power and revolutionize the participation of women in clean energy by comprehensive plans. The organization also lobbies against the gender imbalance in the industry and advocates for women leadership in the critical positions.
Not to forget Greta Thunberg, a young woman who leads the sustainable movement for youth and next generations. “Fridays for Future Movement” inspired millions and she repeatedly called out world leaders to do more every day. The fact that she started this movement at the young age of 15 years old, on her own, shows what she is capable of even at an early stage of her life.
According to, The Environmental and Gender Information database, women only occupy 12% of the environmental leadership positions of the UN member states. This number is alarmingly low and the leaders in position right now do not seem to show enough ambition or necessary efforts to be carbon neutral in the short term. Women on the other hand, show more efforts and awareness in emission reductions. Findings prove that that where women have higher social and political status, their countries have 12% lower CO2 emissions.
Many studies point out to the fact that when a woman is involved in leadership positions such as protection and conservation of global resources, it is more likely that there will be more comprehensive sustainability measures, increased transparency and accountability and more efficient conflict resolution.
What is needed for change? Women face a number of barriers when it comes to participating in politics. Discriminatory laws and organizations continue to place structural obstacles in the way of women running for office. Women are less likely than men to have the education, contacts, and resources needed to be effective leaders due to capacity disparities.
Overall, there are increasing scientific output to prove the point that women indeed make a substantial impact when it comes to containing the effects of global warming. The next step has to be to put more women in positions of power to have the best chance to save our world. Improving the image of women as leaders, in the places where they are not seen as such, is crucial. Mechanisms such as quotas in representation could be utilized to change the outlook. Findings on the effectiveness of quotas are mixed, however, when used correctly quotas have trickle down effects which empowers other women to reach positions of effective leadership. It has been proven that in most cases, after a successful implementation of quota, even when it is lifted, the women leaders continue to be elected. This could only mean that women not being elected was due to bigotry and lack of opportunity rather than incapability. Window of intervention is rapidly closing and including more women in leadership positions not only carries significance in terms of inclusivity and equality but also for our chance to save the planet.