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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The future of climate change solutions is female

Amanda Riha

Hotter temperatures, severe storms, a warming ocean, drought, loss of species, food shortage, health risks and poverty —- it all sounds daunting, and believe me, it is. Climate change is an existential threat to our planet.

Women-led, sustainable efforts are the solution. Women are uniquely situated to answer the call of climate change. Putting female representation at the center of climate change solutions means implementing diverse gender perspectives, making room for holistic climate changes and environmental and disaster risk-reduction policies.

Fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas are the largest contributors to global climate change, accounting for more than 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions, according to the United Nations.

So what causes climate change? Generating power via electricity, burning fossil fuels to produce energy, cutting down forests, transportation and producing food all create greenhouse gasses. These greenhouse gasses blanket the earth and trap the sun’s heat, resulting in climate change.

To mitigate the devastating effects of climate change, we would effectively need to change our energy model to more efficient energy sources, like wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric and nuclear.

As a society, we must also invest in women with diverse backgrounds. The majority of our infrastructures, along with our sociopolitical frameworks, have been long governed by white men. These men have not lived the lives of non-white women facing the effects of environmental racism and climate change.

Through negatively impactful policies, rules and regulations — like redlining — people of color and low-income communities are situated near sources of toxic waste, factories, major roads, highways and other sources of pollution, per Action for the Climate Emergency. These minority groups are hit the hardest when it comes to the detrimental effects of global warming.

Is the solution to diversify the energy business? On gender equality, the energy business is overwhelmingly male. Women hold 22% of jobs in energy production and distribution, despite making up 48% of the global workforce, according to the International Energy Agency.

The most common occupations held by women are nurses, teachers, secretaries and administrative assistants, per the Women’s Bureau. These are all low-carbon producing jobs, and they’re largely underfunded due to the devaluation of women in the workplace. As a society, we should lean into more funding for these types of jobs while also encouraging women to get involved in professions aimed at solving climate change.

Investing in education, healthcare and managerial sectors where women dominate can create a path towards a cleaner and more responsible climate change policy. The World Resources Institute reports that women-led businesses are more likely to proactively improve energy efficiency, invest in renewable power and measure and reduce carbon emissions.

The climate crisis also exacerbates existing inequalities. Women face larger burdens from the impacts of climate change due to existing roles, responsibilities and cultural norms.

In many societies, women are tasked with household energy, food, water and care for the young and elderly. In developing countries, climate change can burden women, forcing them to make a longer trek for daily supplies, resulting in less time for work and a greater possibility of risk.

In the Ecuadorian Andes, Indigenous women are restoring the fragile Páramo ecosystem by using sustainable agricultural production and landscape management. Their efforts are dismantling gender expectations and empowering women to lead in decision making when it comes to climate change.

Blue Ventures, a marine conservation organization in Madagascar, works to incorporate sustainable living in tandem with sexual and reproductive health services. This approach addresses the coordinated challenges of environmental degradation, food insecurity, poor health and neglected family planning needs. Blue Ventures enables families by decreasing crude birth rates, improving food security and uplifting women to perform important roles in resource management.

In Kenya, climate-smart agriculture centers around small-scale female farmers. By creating The Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project, women improved  their income, yields and overall well-being. Women in this program created a tree nursery which provided a new source of income, allowing them to invest the profits in dairy production. With the added funds, women can fund their children’s healthcare and education without economic challenges.

Interestingly, many of these efforts began in places with less resources than the U.S. As a country with immense privilege, we need to be doing more on a policy level to amplify and center voices that are taking the challenge head-on.

Though many climate care solutions led by women begin small, they result in a ripple effect that creates several interconnected benefits for families, communities and countries as a whole.

Additionally, a VoxEU study found that countries with higher female parliamentary representation are more likely to ratify international environmental treaties, further proving that the future is female. Evidence from Women Deliver also supports that when women have secure rights and land access, they use resources sustainably.

To save our planet, we must listen to grassroots female voices that encounter the depths of the effects of climate change. The call to tackle climate change has been championed by women like Greta Thunberg, Isra Hirsi, Alexandria Villaseñor and Hilda Flavia Nakabuye.

By amplifying female voices and encouraging female positions of power, we receive thoughtful and pragmatic solutions to the catastrophic environmental problems we face — and will continue to face — unless something is done about them.

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Amanda Riha
Amanda Riha, Design Editor

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