Women across the world are implementing alternative, sustainable and socially transformative climate solutions
In a recent AimHi lesson: ‘Are men more valuable than women?’, AimHi teacher Paul demonstrated that women in the UK do over three times more ‘unpaid work’ than men. This includes caregiving, cooking and cleaning. A further consequence? Women are more likely to work part-time and therefore earn less money on average than men.
In fact, women in the UK currently earn, on average, 15.5% less than men for every hour they work. This imbalance is commonly known as the gender pay gap. Unpaid work clearly has financial consequences for women in the UK.
Life becomes even more complicated for women in developing countries. While still in charge of the same unpaid tasks, the completion of such tasks are at the mercy of our heating, changing planet.
Women in rural areas of developing countries rely heavily on local resources to water, feed and power their communities. They are much more likely to be exposed to heatwaves, droughts, and extreme storms.
And the consequences of the climate crisis not only threaten the lives of women but also their ability to learn, earn and move. For example, when droughts strike in places like Senegal, local women have to travel further to access water for their families. The outcome? Even less time spent on paid work or education. With limited access to money and education, women find it much more difficult to move away from increasingly hostile environments.
One thing to remember: even though women are affected by the consequences of the climate crisis, they are not powerless victims. In fact, many of these women are at the forefront of the fight against the climate crisis, and are more likely to engage in environmentally sensitive behaviours. E.G. recycling, using renewable energy and organic fertilisers. The truth is clear: when it comes to curbing the climate crisis, women are invaluable.
Therefore, as well as recognising the power of female climate activists like Greta Thunberg, it's crucial we also focus on, and celebrate, the work that women in low-income countries are driving.
Here are a few examples:
"Announcement of AWARD Fellowship winners of 2011: Nairobi" by International Livestock Research Institute is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 One Planet Fellowship (AWARD)
Farming in Africa has become increasingly difficult due to changes in climate, such as erratic rainfall which impacted crop growth. Whilst African women represent nearly half of farmers in Africa and produce up to 80% of basic food crops, they have limited rights, mobility and access to resources, information, and decision-making power.
Nairobi-based group African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) is leading the One Planet Fellowship. This is a new initiative that will train 630 African and European scientists to use a gender lens to help smallholders adapt to climate shifts. The aim? To empower African scientists, who have the first-hand experience of the unique challenges their communities face, to come up with home-grown and sustainable solutions to the consequences of climate change.
"Solar engineering trainer, Barefoot College, India" by UN Women Gallery is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Barefoot College International
Barefoot College International operates in over 2000 villages to educate and upskill women and girls in order to bring sustainable solutions to their local communities. They have already trained over 2,200 women as solar engineers, or ‘solar mamas’. These solar mamas help to electrify their local villages with renewable energy and open education and enterprise opportunities. The College's work has already impacted more than two million people in the global south, bringing them clean water, renewable energy, invaluable skills and development opportunities.
"GA73 - 'SDGs and Her' Awards Ceremony" by UN Women Gallery is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Charlot Magayi: Muruku Cook Stoves
The World Health Organization ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top 10 worst health risks, due to the number of unsafe stoves and open fires used in developing countries. This is something Charlot Magayi and her daughter experienced first hand, getting regular throat infections and even burns as a result of unsafe stoves at home.
Now, Magayi is a leading environmental activist in Kenya and supplies people in Mukuru with affordable cookstoves, through her company Mukuru Cook Stoves. These stoves reduce toxic emissions by up to 90%, use up to 60% less fuel, and decrease the risk of burns. That means they're protecting both the people using the stoves and our planet!