I believe that women are at the nexus of a thriving and just global future. Currently, women are disproportionately impacted by environmental and economic problems, yet they are central to the most important solutions. Those seeking to address climate change need to recognize the power this constituency has and give it the importance it deserves in engagement strategies. To propel this, we need breakthrough alliances across the existing women leaders and groups, already working within their fields of expertise to bring change to our world.
The impact that women have on everyday global systems is immense. Women are responsible for half of the world’s food production and when women farmers are empowered to make sustainable choices, we’ll reduce the carbon footprint of our global food system. The United Nations recognizes that sustainable water resource management depends on engaging women at all levels of decision-making and implementation. Women in North America determine 80 percent of all consumer purchases. Imagine how that market power could be mobilized to significantly reduce carbon emissions through purchasing choices, including demanding an end to fossil fuels.
Emerging evidence indicates that women’s leadership is essential to reducing carbon emissions and fostering environmental protections. Studies show that businesses and governments perform better when women comprise at least 30 percent of the leadership. In relation to climate change specifically, a study of 130 countries found that those with higher female parliamentary representation are more prone to ratify international environmental treaties. Finally, United Nations studies show that when women are empowered through education and jobs, economies improve, populations stabilize and health of communities improves. These conditions are essential for environmental and sustainability solutions to take hold.
Knowing how central women are to the solutions, the questions remain: How will we leverage women’s vital sustainability contributions and climate change solutions at the local and global levels? How can we implement a rights-based approach to sustainability to respect Women’s rights, Indigenous rights, Nature’s rights and Future Generation’s rights?
To answer these questions, the Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus in partnership with eraGlobal Alliance is hosting the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit in New York September 20th - 23rd. Women leaders from the Global South and Global North are gathering to highlight women worldwide as innovators and agents of change in mitigating and adapting to climate change and environmental degradation. We will also demonstrate a way forward with cross-sector and cross-cultural solutions from the grassroots up.
Out of this working summit, we will draft a Women's Climate Action Agenda - a document outlining the specifics of an international effort to move forward at speed and scale with solutions to address the climate crisis. It will amplify the remarkable work already being done by women around the world to implement sustainability solutions, and sound the call for accelerated action, increased funding, and meaningful policy at the local, regional, national and global levels.
Breakthrough alliances in women’s networks are critical at this time. The complexities of the environmental, economic and climate crises require systemic change in how we are living with each other and our Earth. This change will only be achieved through full representation of women in decision-making processes, deploying necessary resources for women and developing a comprehensive women’s network to aid in implementing economic and environmental solutions.
Please join us for the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit, September 20th - 23rd. Visit www.iweci.org to follow the proceedings via live stream and join the conversation.
Osprey Orielle Lake is founder/president of The Women's Earth and Climate Caucus (WECC) and the author of the award-winning book, Uprisings For The Earth: Reconnecting Culture with Nature.