When most people first think of climate change, myself included, they first think of the direct impacts of the changing temperature. We all pull to mind buzzwords like greenhouse gases, rising ocean levels, melting ice, rising sea levels, and, if you’re from the Midwest like me, the polar vortex (wasn’t that terrible?)
But what too often gets forgotten are the issues associated with this change. How are people affected by climate change?
Tuesday December 9th was Gender Day at the United Nations International Conference on Climate Change. Now I can already mentally see you rolling your eyes at me, but please just hear me out.
Along with three other student delegates, I attended a session entitled “The Momentum of Change: Women for Results,” which has been one of the most empowering and invigorating discussions of the conference so far.
You may not know this, but climate change affects women more than it affects men. This is because 70% of those in poverty are women. They are the ones gathering food, collecting water, and taking care of their families.
At the same time, women are some of the most important agents for change when it comes to the environment. These powerful women are the ones educating the future generations and implementing technologies in their respective communities.
One of the most powerful groups that spoke was from an India based project called Bhungroo. In India, there are two dichotomous season: monsoon and drought. This makes it difficult to grow crops since there is either flooding or too little water. This innovation places a tube deep into the ground that collects water during the monsoon season and channels it into the ground. This stored water is then used during the drought season to guarantee all season crops.
If this was not enough, the project trains the poorest women to operate and own these plots of land with the technology. They are even given legal rights to the land as well as to the crops and income. This empowers the lowest class of women to take imitative and to actively participate in their own communities.
So far, this has helped over 18,000 farmers. What is even more, this has tripled the income of these women. This is truly a remarkable solution to a climate change issue that at the same time advocates climate equality and empowerment for women.
Although this is immensely significant, what was even more inspiring was the question section afterwards. A woman from Uganda in the audience stood up and stated that her country and region suffered from the same issue. The Bhungroo group immediately responded that they were willing and open to implementing the technology not just in Uganda, but to multiple countries across Africa.
Especially with American politics, it often seems like nothing gets done; it is simply all talk. Yet, here there were women banding together from across the globe actively solving problems and improving not only their own quality of life, but also all those around them.
This group session more than any other has inspired me to actually get out and do something. Women across the world are taking action, and I invite you to join us.
At the end of the day, climate change is not a political issue. Climate change is a human issue.