Now more than ever, it is critical for all individuals to stand up and advocate for women and the environment. Imagine a world where the earth is cared for and there are no toxic chemicals in our homes, communities, or our environment. This vision is possible to achieve. We must act now if we are to create a planet where it is safe to live, work, and play and where all beings have a chance to thrive.
Women play a critical role in managing the resources of their family and their community. And, almost always, women or girls suffer more negative effects from climate change and environmental degradation than men or boys—especially women of various races and ethnicities.
All over the world, women are the ones who manage water, fuel sources, food, and often the forests and agricultural terrain. However, in many places throughout the world, social and cultural traditions limit their mobility. While men may be away from home, women are more susceptible to being trapped in rubble, often waiting for their men to return home in order to make evacuation decisions. Many countries prohibit women from owning or leasing land or securing loans or insurance. Often left out of the planning process, women are less aware of how to protect themselves. They are more likely to be vulnerable to sexual violence and human trafficking (which increases after many natural disasters). In many cultures, women and girls often do not have access to culturally sensitive, secure, sanitary, user-friendly, gender appropriate toilets and washing facilities. They are also prohibited from access to feminine sanitary products and family planning options.
Reproductive justice overlaps with environmental justice. Pollution, access to clean water and air, and access to healthy food impact women who are, or hope to be, pregnant. Once pregnant, these same factors greatly affect the health of both the woman and her child.
Because of this, women have become leaders of change and a voice for environmental justice. Indigenous people all around the world have joined this fight—often because they have a lot to lose.
What Can You Do?
While we can ask our legislators to support more aggressive policies and laws to fight climate change, our health, our environment, and our future is in our hands. We cannot wait for our governmental leaders to act. Real, profound change happens only when individuals act.
The small, daily, consistent actions of individuals, when combined, can make a tremendous impact on personal health as well as the health of communities, states, countries, and the planet.
While many of the actions we take today can reduce future climate change consequences as well as address the health impacts of climate change that are already happening, it is important to take action now to realize the greatest health benefits today. The following are just some of the literally thousands of ways to reduce human-caused climate change:
- Read. Get educated about climate change from responsible, knowledgeable, scientific sources. Understand how the debate became political. Discuss and advocate for the environment in concrete terms.
- Vote! Vote! Vote!
- Support the empowerment and education of girls and women all over the world. When women are free to make decisions about their reproductive health, they have fewer children. Fewer people means less consumption and fewer emissions.
- Join a community-support agriculture (CSA) group. This provides seasonal food sold directly from nearby farmers.
- Grow at least some of your own foods. Easy ones to start are herbs (such as parsley and basil) and tomatoes.
- Push your employer and your city to support 100% clean energy.
- Be vocal and advocate for green policies in the workplace!
- Support the empowerment and education of girls and women. Support policies and laws that protect girls and women from every form of gender violence.
- Write a letter to one of your elected officials at the local, state, or federal level. Tell them you believe climate change is important and you want them to support effective efforts to reduce it.
- Get involved in a cause you believe in, whether it is on the local, state, national, or international level. Your involvement matters!
- Remember to start simply with things you can change in your everyday life. Get children involved too. By acting as a family or community, every step can be fun and build relationships and resilience for the future.