Empowering Women: A Sustainable Solution for Climate Change

Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time, affecting every aspect of our lives and the future of our planet. But while the impacts of climate change are felt by everyone, they are not distributed equally. Women and girls, especially in developing countries, are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as droughts, floods, storms, and displacement. At the same time, women and girls are also powerful agents of change, who can contribute to the mitigation and adaptation of climate change, if given the opportunity and resources.

In this article, we will explore how empowering women and girls can be a sustainable solution for climate change, by highlighting some of the initiatives and achievements of women leaders, activists, and entrepreneurs in this field.

Empowering Women: A Sustainable Solution for Climate Change
Empowering Women: A Sustainable Solution for Climate Change

Women and Climate Change: The Challenges and the Opportunities

According to the United Nations, women make up 80 percent of the people displaced by climate change, and are more likely to die from natural disasters than men. Women also bear the brunt of the socio-economic impacts of climate change, such as food insecurity, water scarcity, and loss of livelihoods. Women often have less access to land, credit, education, and decision-making power, which limits their ability to cope with and recover from climate shocks.

However, women also have unique knowledge, skills, and perspectives that can help address the causes and consequences of climate change. Women are often the primary caretakers of their families and communities, and have valuable insights into the local environment and natural resources. Women are also key drivers of innovation and entrepreneurship, creating solutions that are responsive to the needs and realities of their contexts. Women are also influential advocates and leaders, raising awareness and mobilizing action for climate justice and gender equality.

Women Climate Champions: ImpactAim SDG5 Accelerator Programme

One of the examples of how women are leading the way in climate action is the Women Climate Champions: ImpactAim SDG5 Accelerator Programme, launched in 2021 by the United Nations Development Programme in India and ReNew Power, together with the Foundation for Innovation & Technology Transfer (FIIT), Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. The programme provides business advisory and mentoring to women climate entrepreneurs, who are developing innovative solutions for renewable energy, waste management, water conservation, and climate resilience.

The first cohort of the programme consists of six women entrepreneurs, who are all set to strengthen the climate innovation landscape in India with their ventures. They are:

  • Monika Jha, founder of Cydee Technologies, which has developed a unique lighting concept that helps reduce the number of streetlights required to illuminate a stretch of road or area by 40 percent, saving energy and carbon emissions.
  • Shweta Rawat, founder of Greenwear, which produces sustainable and biodegradable clothing and accessories from agricultural waste, such as banana and pineapple fibers, reducing the environmental impact of the fashion industry.
  • Shilpa Malik, founder of Bioscan Research, which has created a portable device that can detect internal bleeding in trauma patients, using artificial intelligence and infrared technology, improving the survival rate and reducing the need for blood transfusions.
  • Nidhi Pant, founder of Science for Society, which has developed a solar conduction dryer that can preserve fruits, vegetables, and grains, without using any chemicals or preservatives, enhancing the income and food security of rural farmers and women.
  • Shalini Tripathi, founder of Livelihoods, which has created a platform that connects rural women artisans with urban customers, providing them with training, quality control, and marketing support, empowering them to earn a dignified livelihood and preserve their cultural heritage.
  • Priyanka Jain, founder of Hydrotech Paryavaran, which has designed a decentralized wastewater treatment system that can recycle and reuse water for various purposes, such as irrigation, flushing, and cooling, reducing water consumption and pollution.

These women entrepreneurs are not only creating solutions that are beneficial for the environment, but also for the society and the economy. They are generating employment, income, and social impact, while also addressing the challenges and opportunities of women and girls in their communities.

Women and Girls in Science: A Force for Change

Another example of how women and girls are contributing to a sustainable tomorrow is their involvement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, which are essential for advancing the knowledge and innovation needed for climate action. However, women and girls still face many barriers and biases that prevent them from pursuing and excelling in STEM careers, such as lack of access to education, resources, and role models, as well as stereotypes and discrimination.

To overcome these challenges and to celebrate the achievements of women and girls in science, the United Nations has declared February 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which aims to promote the participation and leadership of women and girls in STEM fields, and to recognize their contributions to the scientific and technological development of the world.

Some of the women and girls who are making a difference in science and climate change are:

  • Senka Barudanovic, a professor of ecology at the University of Sarajevo faculty of sciences in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who is leading a project that monitors the impact of climate change on the biodiversity and ecosystems of the Balkan Peninsula, and provides recommendations for conservation and management strategies.
  • Greta Thunberg, a 19-year-old activist from Sweden, who started the global movement of school strikes for climate action in 2018, and has inspired millions of people, especially young people, to demand urgent and ambitious action from governments and corporations to tackle the climate crisis.
  • Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, a 37-year-old environmental activist from Chad, who is the co-chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, and advocates for the rights and interests of indigenous peoples, especially women, in the global climate negotiations and policies.
  • Katharine Hayhoe, a 49-year-old climate scientist and professor at Texas Tech University in the United States, who is an expert on the regional impacts of climate change, and communicates the science and solutions of climate change to diverse audiences, such as faith communities, policymakers, and media.
  • Ayushi Sharma, a 17-year-old student from India, who won the 2021 Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a global science video competition, for her video explaining the concept of carbon capture and storage, a technology that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants.

These women and girls are not only advancing the scientific understanding and innovation of climate change, but also raising awareness and influencing the public opinion and policy on this issue. They are demonstrating the power and potential of women and girls in science, and inspiring the next generation of scientists and leaders.

Empowering Women and Girls: A Win-Win Solution for Climate Change

Empowering women and girls is not only a matter of human rights and justice, but also a smart and effective strategy for addressing climate change. By ensuring that women and girls have equal access to education, resources, opportunities, and decision-making power, we can unleash their creativity, innovation, and leadership, and enable them to contribute to the mitigation and adaptation of climate change, as well as to the sustainable development of their communities and countries.

Empowering women and girls is also a win-win solution for climate change, as it can generate multiple co-benefits for the environment, the society, and the economy. For instance, empowering women and girls can:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture, and low-carbon lifestyles.
  • Enhance climate resilience, by improving disaster preparedness, risk reduction, and recovery, and by strengthening the adaptive capacity and coping strategies of vulnerable groups and communities.
  • Improve health and well-being, by reducing the exposure and vulnerability to climate-related diseases, such as malaria, dengue, and cholera, and by increasing the access and quality of health care services, especially for reproductive health and rights.
  • Increase food security and nutrition, by enhancing the productivity and diversity of crops, and by reducing food loss and waste, and by improving the access and affordability of food for the poor and the hungry.
  • Boost economic growth and poverty reduction, by creating new jobs and income opportunities, especially for women and youth, and by increasing the participation and productivity of women in the labor force and the formal economy.
  • Foster social inclusion and empowerment, by reducing gender inequalities and discrimination, and by increasing the voice and representation of women and girls in the public and private spheres, and in the local and global arenas.

Empowering women and girls is not only a moral obligation, but also a strategic imperative for climate action. By investing in women and girls, we can create a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable future for all.

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