4 Key Ways Women Can #PressForProgress On Climate Action

Women have often gone unrecognised for their groundbreaking work and ideas, but they have always been vital agents of change.

The theme for International Women's Day 2018 is Press For Progress, so let's take a moment to celebrate the power that women have in the face of our number one challenge today, climate change.

Taking it back to 1856, Eunice Foote speaks at a scientific conference to demonstrate arguably the most important finding in the history of human-caused climate change. She discovered what we now refer to as the 'greenhouse effect'. Despite credit for the discovery later being taken by a man, her work has helped to inform everything that we have done to act on climate change to this day.

Fast-forward 160 years, women today are taking action on climate change and making planet-friendly choices every single day. Studies have shown that compared to men, women recycle more and have a smaller carbon footprint. In fact, being planet-friendly is often viewed as a 'womanly' thing. One study has found that men may consciously reject planet-friendly options at risk of appearing 'feminine'.

There is an unequivocal link between climate change and gender inequality that we need to address in order to drive large scale progress. In developing countries, women and girls are hit the hardest by the impacts of climate change. Often they are the last to be fed and rescued, experience greater risks when water and sanitation are compromised and they participate in more domestic and care work when crises hit. Because of their first-hand experience with the challenges of climate change, women are in a position to provide insights into its impacts and provide valuable solutions. It is vital that women have a voice.

Here's how we can ensure we strengthen the voice of women and make our mission for climate action stronger.

Be empowered and empower others

The empowerment of women is now recognised as a legitimate large-scale solution to the climate crisis. Women might be hit the hardest by climate change, but are also recognised as vital change agents. Empowerment comes with acting on climate change. When we use our voices, our privilege, our knowledge and our actions to create the type of world we want to live in, we empower others to do the same. Our own empowerment acts like a ripple in a lake, touching members of our outer community as it spreads. Simple actions like choosing to ride a bike instead of driving, or eliminating our household food waste can make a huge difference.

Support family planning

Overpopulation has long been the elephant in the room. With more people comes more pollution and a larger strain on our planet's resources. So, can we really tell people to stop having children? Well maybe not. But we can support the programs, systems and social constructs that help women gain ownership over their own bodies and the ability to have children when and only if they choose to. Education, availability of contraception and access to safe abortions are major tools for curbing population growth. Not only does widespread access to these facilities help reduce birth rates, it helps to empower women and gives them the tools and opportunity to be leaders within their communities.

Reject unrealistic beauty standards

The fast fashion industry now has 52 seasons a year. We're constantly being pressured to buy the latest clothes, makeup, accessories and gadgets, most of which will just end up in the bin within months. And the energy and resources that go into making all this 'stuff'? All wasted. Overconsumption is one of the largest drivers of climate change today. We consume more resources than we need and it's breeding a global waste problem and causing millions of tonnes of unnecessary carbon emissions from entering our atmosphere. When we break down these walls and overcome these societal pressures, only then can we reject unrealistic beauty standards and avoid a life of overconsumption.

Support childfree women

Women who choose to be childfree are often shunned in many cultures. The word 'selfish' is often thrown around in relation to women who have made this noble decision. Until we view voluntary childlessness as one of the most selfless things you can do for our planet, we won't be able to make progress on the issue of overpopulation. By backing childfree women and extinguishing judgement, we can support the slowing of human population growth.

This International Women's day and every day, let's #PressForProgress on climate action.

Read this next: Empowering Future Climate Heroes Through Female Education and Family Planning


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