Women and Climate Change

July 24 2018: Mary Robinson launches new feminist fight against climate change. Women around the world who are leading the fight against climate damage are to be highlighted by the former president of Ireland and UN high commissioner, in the hopes of building a new global movement that will create “a feminist solution for climate change”. link  Women are rising up. (March 2018) Women are the protectors; health and environment are tightly linked. link

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          Below:

  • Introduction by Alina Pittman
  • Women’s role on the global stage
  • Power over consumer spending
  • Women more at risk from climate change

Women’s page by Alina Pittman
When half of its population is marginalized, a society cannot achieve its true potential. With attributes that make them peace builders, powerful agents for change, economy builders, and sustainers of strong personal connection, why are women overlooked? Why do their voices continue to be ignored? Why do they lack equal representation as policy builders and decision makers? May we support each other, get involved, be heard and rise up!

Hello! I want to start by thanking you for visiting this page on the site. For all the ladies that are reading this, I honor you! My hope is that you will be able to relate to; educate yourself and other wonderful women; and find this page helpful in assisting you in making positive changes in your life, no matter the size of the change. To any men reading this, thank you for visiting the page to expand your knowledge regarding how women impact our world.

Women face so many stimuli regarding our bodies, our weight, our beauty, aging, and yes, even our menstruation. Some brands have been advertising for so long we just naturally (and on some level even unconsciously) gravitate towards them.

I believe that we as women have yet to understand the power we have as consumers. If we collectively changed our purchasing habits we could make a drastic shift in how products are made, how they affect the environment, and how we are influenced by marketing and advertisements.

It can be liberating to find products that are vegan, cruelty-free, free of chemicals (sls, parabens, sulfates, phytates, etc), eco-friendly, and even make some of your own. A constant pressure to keep up with fashion trends results in the abuse of natural resources, further creates competition/comparison between women, and contributes to the massive growth of landfills as we simply get rid of the old (which is not really old) to make room for the new.

Women not only have the power to change how they shop for themselves and their families, but also to join the growing awareness that women must have a loud voice and deserve to be heard when it comes to climate justice. In developed countries, there are opportunities to speak not only for oneself, but for women around the world who have less choice and opportunity to exercise the right to advocate and organize a resistance to the old way of doing things, while envisioning and creating a better future.

As we strive to make changes we must stick together, not judge each other, because we understand that women are often balancing a role in society, social circles, at home, and at work. Start small, aim high, set monthly goals, there is no right or wrong way, just do something! It may begin with doing research and changing a few products you buy, getting involved in a local or national climate campaign, or a complete overhaul – CAUTION: once you expand your knowledge you will realize that most products geared towards women are problematic and that climate change is worse than you once thought, please do not become terrified, fearful, or overwhelmed. We need you!!

Shopping/food labels: Get informed and stay updated on better brands to purchase that may be more environmentally-conscious, use less additives, and speak to you values/beliefs: Center for Science in the Public Interest

Makeup/Beauty Products: Women don’t need make-up, natural beauty has and always will be ”in”. It’s your choice and one to be respected. If you choose to wear makeup, here are resources about great companies to support – our dollars can help make these products the new norm: ewg.org  omiana rejuvaminerals  ethical elephant  sephora

Hair and skincare: Most advertisements on tv feature products that are full of chemicals. Here are just a few brands to show that you have other options:  Andalou Naturals  Skinscript Rx   Giovanni Products

Recycle clothes: Each year the amount of clothing in landfills grows – do we have to throw out our old clothes? Must we stuff our closets excessively? Here are some great ways to reduce our waste and create less demand for new clothing – all while protecting the environment:                platoscloset.com    clothingcollectors.com   Recycle clothes   Poshmark.com

Menstruation: Every month, women around the world flush tampons and applicators down the toilet and they end up in our oceans. There are some really great alternatives sold by companies who support giving women options to support their menstruation and the environment: citytosea,org

Alina’s journey into being a more conscious consumer began as a young girl. She was always aware of what was detrimental to the earth and felt a responsibility to do what she could to minimize her impact as well as try to inspire others to do the same. As a young adult she obtained an aromatherapy certification to better understand the benefits of making beauty care products at home. She became an advocate for the environment while working with Food and Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group. Alina recently obtained her Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from Winthrop University and looks forward to using her education to make an impact on the world by helping people make better choices about their health. She seeks to gain clarity about which campaigns or organizations she feels aligned with to support their efforts in combating climate change.

Editor’s note: I am delighted that my friend, Alina Pittman, assisted in research for this important page, and hope it is able to reach a wide audience so that women can continue to participate in the challenge in preserving a sustainable planet for future generations at risk from past decades of failure to halt global warming. (AB)      

Other links – Womens Environmental Network – London – link

Women’s role on the global stage

February 2018: Lack of women in energy industry is holding back efforts to tackle climate change. Poor gender diversity meant the energy industry was less open to new ideas, and is so dominated by men – particularly older white men – it is slowing down the energy transition to green power. link

February 2018: Women at the front can help defeat global warming. “It’s clear if we want to face climate change, women and girls from all the world should be central actors. We have little time left.” – Patricia Espinosa, the current UNFCCC head. Attendees at the Women4Climate conference in Mexico City said investing in the education and leadership of women and girls will provide a much-needed boost in efforts to slow global warming. link

November 2017: Framework development on gender action plan. COP23 – the UN Conference of the Parties on climate change that took place in Bonn took a step forward on emphasising the role of women in the global fight against climate change by adopting a Gender Action Plan (GAP). Building on existing frameworks, the plan will create new processes to enable women to become agents of change for climate action. The GAP’s main goal is to support and enhance the implementation of gender-related decisions and mandates so far adopted by the UNFCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change)  through specific initiatives over the next two years. The GAP moves beyond gender parity in policy negotiations. It integrates gender equality in all aspects of climate policy and action. That means strengthening women’s roles in all activities related to climate adaptation and mitigation as well as implementing processes, including technology development and transfer. link

Women’s voices must be the loudest on matters of climate change. “Women are massively impacted by some of the world’s most pressing ills. All over the world there are inspiring examples of women who are taking action and bringing positive change to their communities and societies and breaking down barriers of gender inequality. Women on the ground are the ones feeling the impacts but they also play an important role in ensuring that climate action is effective.”  Mary Robinson, president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. link

The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice is a centre for thought leadership, education and advocacy on the struggle to secure global justice for those people vulnerable to the impacts of climate change who are usually forgotten – the poor, the disempowered and the marginalised across the world.

 Power over consumer spending

Women account for $7 trillion in consumer and business spending in the United States, and over the next decade, they will control two thirds of consumer wealth. Women make or influence 85% of all purchasing decisions, and purchase over 50% of traditional male products, including automobiles, home improvement products and consumer electronics. link

May 2018: The people fighting pollution with plastic-free periods. Talking about periods openly can be difficult, and discussing menstrual waste can be even harder. While the fight against single-use plastics like straws and shopping bags has become a mainstream issue, activists and environmental groups say disposable menstrual products are part of the problem too. link

What is Ecofeminism? “Ecofeminism is a movement that sees a connection between the exploitation and degradation of the natural world and the subordination and oppression of women. Ecofeminism brings together elements of the feminist and green movements, while at the same time offering a challenge to both.” Professor Mary Mellow, emeritus professor at the Department of Social Sciences at Northumbria University, Newcastle, England

November 2017: Stella McCartney calls for overhaul of ‘incredibly wasteful’ fashion industry. Fashion designer Stella McCartney condemned her industry as incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment, calling for a systemic change to the way clothing is produced and used. It warns that “if the industry continues on its current path, by 2050, it could use more than 26% of the carbon budget associated with a 2C pathway.” Clothes must be designed differently, worn for longer and recycled as much as possible to stop the global fashion industry consuming a quarter of the world’s annual carbon budget by 2050. The throwaway nature of fashion has created a business which creates greenhouse emissions of 1.2bn tonnes a year, larger than that of international flights and shipping combined. Half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres are released per year from washed clothes – 16 times more than plastic microbeads from cosmetics – contributing to ocean pollution than 26% of the carbon budget associated with a 2C pathway.” link

Women, as primary caretakers of families, are placed on the front line of the environmental crisis through their shopping responsibility. Statistic indicate that 80% of household shopping is performed by women. Therefore, environmentally-related purchase behavior is left primarily in the hands of the female consumer. She is the one who must sift through all the conflicting evidence concerning recycling of styrofoam. She must make tough decisions on whether to buy non-biodegradable plastic diapers or water-wasting reusable ones. She must be cognizant of labels that may be misleading or blatantly false. A substantial burden has been placed on women consumers to attend to the environmental crisis. With women’s role as primary caretaker still intact within most segments of society, women have had to take on an additional role: that of caretaker of the planet. Ecofeminism provides some insight into this connection between women consumers and nature. link
 Women more at risk from climate change

November 2017: Global warming might be especially dangerous for pregnant women. Heat advisories warn of heat-related illnesses, particularly for the elderly, children, and sick people, as well as pets and livestock. Another group should be added to the list: pregnant women. A handful of researchers in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere are methodically accumulating evidence suggesting that higher temperatures could be linked to a higher risk of premature births, stillbirths, or other negative pregnancy outcomes. The research suggests that enough evidence has already surfaced to warrant increased scrutiny, particularly as global warming is expected to drive average temperatures ever upward over coming decades. link

Women are more vulnerable. Climate change is affecting everyone living on this planet. But women in particular will feel its impact, experts say. That’s because climate change exacerbates existing gender inequality. “Women are not starting from an even playing field, economically, socially and politically. They are more vulnerable because of these constructs,” said Gotelind Alber, co-founder of the nongovernmental organization GenderCC-Women for Climate Justice. The majority of the world’s poor are women, meaning they have fewer resources to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Women are also more dependent on natural resources for their livelihood. In developing countries, women are responsible for 60 to 80% of all household food production, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. When drought or floods destroy the harvest, women and girls are often the first to reduce how much they eat – sacrificing their diet for the well-being of the rest of the family, Lim Hwei Mian, from the Asian-pacific resource and research centre for women said. link

Women will bear brunt of dystopian climate future. “This isn’t climate change – it’s everything change. Women will be directly and adversely affected by climate change.” – Margaret Atwood – link