That women and children have long been victims of the adverse impacts of climate change is not surprising. As global warming creates more extreme weather conditions, women and children living in vulnerable, impoverished countries hit by floods or drought have suffered exponentially and are forced to leave their communities and become part of mass climate migrations. Studies have found that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women, a majority who live in extreme poverty on less than $1 a day.
More disappointing: at last year’s COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, most climate negotiations were dominated by men and few women had input to major decisions. This was nothing new.
This male power-dynamic trend galvanized women to organize and start active campaigns from women farmers in rural West Africa, to women working to transition to clean energy in India, to those promoting climate resiliency in South Louisiana.
Among several women-led climate organizations, five major climate solution projects stand out from around the world. They are: Women in Energy Entrepreneurship that supports women business leaders across India to develop energy access ideas, We Are the Solution, a campaign led by rural women in West Africa, The Indonesia Women’s Earth Alliance Grassroots Accelerator empowering local women to protect their communities and ecosystems from environmental and climate threats such as palm oil extraction, plastic pollution, and sea-level rise. Other projects are WECAN International, that promotes increasing biodiversity and climate resiliency for the Houma Nation in South Louisiana and DESMI, Desarrollo Económico y Social de los Mexicanos Indígenas which is committed to economic and social development of Indigenous Mexicans.
Check out women selected for Greenbiz’s 2021 class of Badass Women include New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who has waged an insistent, high energy fight against climate change when she declared a “climate emergency” pushing New Zealand to become carbon neutral by 2025. The Badass Women list also includes Debra Haaland, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and former New Mexico Congresswoman who has a long history of championing climate-related causes, Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO and President of Ariel Investments, Boma Brown-West, Director of Consumer Health, EDF+Business for the Environmental Defense Fund’s work to eliminate toxic chemicals from consumer products.
Women and girls have been inspired by female climate activists such as young Greta Thunberg, primatologist Jane Goodall and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who introduced The Green New Deal, to name just a few. High powered women are aggressively tackling the climate crisis and keeping the issues front and center. Women executives have been populating seats at the corporate and non-corporate boardroom table, driving the direction and the dialogue on key environmental impacts, sustainability, environmental social and governance (ESG) and climate risk.
And there is good news for the upcoming COP27 on November, 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. In March, right after the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66), the second largest UN intergovernmental meeting, a blueprint was created for world leaders to promote women’s and girls’ full and equal participation and leadership to implement climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies and programs moving forward. The Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Bahous, said the intent of the CSW66 was to “capitalize on the work done here, put these agreements into immediate practice and move these decisions forward through all the major forums ahead, including COP27.”
Hope is in the air.