After being at COP22 for several days, I wanted to highlight some of the awesome and inspiring women I have met and listened to, and their gender-just climate solutions that have been presented here!
You may be wondering, what is a gender-just climate solution? Why does it even make sense to talk about gender and climate change together? When we talk about climate change, we must recognize the fact that clean energy and solutions to GHG emissions should not oppress or place more burdens on women. The truth is everyone wins when women are empowered and educated to pursue clean energy climate solutions in their communities.
On Monday I attended the Gender-Just Climate Solutions Awards that were put on by the Women and Gender Constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Before the awards were presented, they laid out the criteria:
One of these awards went to The Mohammad VI Foundation for Environmental Protection in Morocco, for their work in promoting and implementing ecostoves in communities. Ecostoves are an easy solution that reduce carbon emissions from the burning of biomass for cooking and improve public health. Three billion people around the world use the burning of coal or biomass for heating and cooking. It is estimated that 25% of the world’s black carbon emissions come from the burning of biomass for these purposes. Each year 4.3 million people die prematurely from diseases associated with household air pollution as a result of inefficient cooking. Women are most often affected by the negative health consequences of traditional cooking methods because they do the majority of the cooking.
I studied away in Oaxaca, Mexico for a semester last year, and while there I was first exposed to the idea of ecostoves and how they have a direct, tangible, positive impact on women. My Spanish language school shared a building with an organization called En Vía, which provides microfinance loans to women in rural, mainly indigenous villages so that they can start or maintain a small business. Recently, En Vía had gotten engineering students from Mexico City to come and install ecostoves in many of the women’s homes because of the health risks that they were facing.
Ecostoves prevent smoke from burning biomass from staying in the home, and also decrease the amount of biomass that needs to be burned for these purposes because of increased efficiency. This is a great example of a gender-just climate solution that advances and directly benefits women, while also helping to reduce emissions and combat climate change.
Besides helping to raise awareness of gender-just climate solutions, women at COP22 are angry, and they have a right to be. On Wednesday I attended a panel hosted by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) that featured women from around their world and their perspectives on climate justice and what they are doing on the frontlines in their communities to combat inequalities and climate change. A woman from Bolivia spoke about how a massive hydropower project was going to destroy and leave entire indigenous communities underwater in the name of clean energy and sustainable development. Other speakers touched on the fact that 50% of environmental activists that are assassinated are indigenous. Many are women. This event was among the most energized I’ve attended, and each panelist spoke with a huge sense of urgency.
At the Gender-Just Climate Solutions Awards earlier in the week, there was also a sense of urgency, but there was hope too. Awareness of gender equality in the context of climate change is increasing. More people are realizing that true climate justice cannot be accomplished without the participation and involvement of women in their communities around the world and the democratization of energy.
After each woman/organization received their awards at this event, the host, a very passionate Nigerian woman, asked us to sing a song with her. It’s been stuck in my head since Monday.
“So sing a song, for women everywhere! Equality, development, and peace!”
17/11/2016 09:50:51 am
This was an interesting read. I had never connected the two issues of gender equality and climate change before now. It is good to hear that the awareness of this issue is increasing. Thank you for sharing!
17/11/2016 10:01:56 am
I truly believe that women should be involved in decision making. The panel hosted by WECAN, a woman spoke about how a hydropower project would wipe out entire indigenous communities was most intriguing. This blog was very informational and helped broaden my knowledge about how important women's rights are.
17/11/2016 11:34:05 am
I never thought about how gender and climate change correlated before, but its very interesting to read about. I'm glad to hear about the implementation of ecostoves, it seems like a step in the right direction.
17/11/2016 02:04:01 pm
This was a very interesting read. I was never aware of how much climate change could impact women's lives. This blog not only gave me knowledge on climate change but also the importance of women's rights.
18/11/2016 05:34:39 am
I am curious if while at COP22, was there a clear division between men and women or was everyone united together to discuss this issue? This article was very intriguing because I never thought that women were affected this much by climate change.
18/11/2016 05:35:14 am
I was not aware that there were specific panels for women on climate change. I am very happy to hear that there is so much attention dedicated to improving the well-fair of women around the world, and that women have the opportunity to be heard at COP22. Thank you for sharing!
18/11/2016 09:05:26 am
Hearing about all of the powerful women making a difference at the convention is very inspiring. The story about the Ecostoves is amazing because it helps combat climate change while helping women that use them. In a world with primarily male leaders, it is encouraging to know that there are women in science making a difference in something that affects them just as much as it affects men.
19/11/2016 04:34:20 pm
Women's rights has been a huge issue for a long time but it was interesting to see it connected to Climate change. very interesting read on the combining of the two issues.
20/11/2016 01:49:22 pm
It never occurred to me to connect gender and climate together, but it was a very interesting article to read. It's no shock to me that powerful women are coming together to make a difference for women all over the world regarding climate change. I believe that the women at COP22 should use their anger as motivation and to continue to raise awareness.
21/11/2016 10:09:30 am
I think now more than ever it is very important to make sure us women get a say in big decisions like climate change. It makes me feel better that now there are the Eco stoves to reduce the carbon emission and help save women's health. Women shouldn't have to suffer because of the household roles they were assigned.
27/11/2016 09:39:59 pm
That's awesome that you brought attention to such an important issue that is easily overlooked. I never would have made a connection between gender equality and climate change.
29/11/2016 11:57:10 am
I believe that it is vital to the betterment of our society to continue to further women's involvement and equality in science, especially in issues that truly should not have such stereotypes. Having a panel on women's perspective in the environment brings me hope personally as a student who wants to pursue science. The panel provides an opportunity for women who have valid thoughts, but may not have had their opinions respected, to express points that could help save the environment. I think that the urgency women feel from not being taken seriously, due to their gender, in respect to the environment is inevitable if gender stereotypes are maintained. This article discusses the necessity for women to stand up and believe that their opinions are just as worthwhile as any others in science, and I completely agree with the author of this article that that is necessary.
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