International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 every year to honor the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world. This year’s theme, “#EmbraceEquity campaign theme is to get the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren’t enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.”
One area where women have made significant contributions is environmental sustainability. From leading grassroots initiatives to occupying high-level positions in government and industry, women have been at the forefront of sustainable development. In this article, we will explore some of the key ways in which women have contributed to environmental sustainability.
Women and Climate Change
Climate change is one of the most pressing environmental challenges facing our planet today, and women are disproportionately affected by its impacts. According to the United Nations, women make up 80% of the people who have been displaced by climate change. This is due to a range of factors, including women’s limited access to resources, education, and decision-making power.
Despite these challenges, women have been at the forefront of climate action. For example, in India, the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) has been working to empower women to participate in renewable energy production and distribution. This has not only provided a source of income for women, but has also helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve access to energy in rural communities.
Women and Sustainable Agriculture
Agriculture is another area where women have played a key role in promoting sustainability. Women make up a significant portion of the agricultural workforce in many parts of the world, and are often responsible for the majority of food production in rural areas.
In Africa, women farmers are using sustainable agriculture practices such as agroforestry, intercropping, and crop rotation to improve soil health and increase crop yields. This not only improves food security but also helps to mitigate the impacts of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
Women and Corporate Sustainability
Women are also playing an increasingly important role in corporate sustainability. According to a report by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, companies with more women in leadership positions are more likely to have better environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance.
One example of a woman-led sustainability initiative is the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which was launched in 2010 by former CEO Paul Polman and continues to be led by his successor, Alan Jope. The plan sets out a range of ambitious sustainability targets, including sourcing 100% of agricultural raw materials sustainably and ensuring that all of Unilever’s plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.
Women and Environmental Activism
Finally, women have played a key role in environmental activism, both at the grassroots and global levels. From the Chipko movement in India to the anti-nuclear protests in Germany, women have been at the forefront of some of the most important environmental movements of the last century.
One example of a contemporary environmental activist is Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager who has become a global icon for climate action. Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement, which began with her solo protests outside the Swedish parliament in 2018, has inspired millions of young people around the world to demand action on climate change.
Women have made significant contributions to environmental sustainability, from leading grassroots initiatives to occupying high-level positions in government and industry. However, gender inequalities continue to limit women’s participation in environmental decision-making and action. On this International Women’s Day, let us #EmbraceEquity these inequalities and work towards a more gender-inclusive world that recognizes and supports women’s contributions to environmental sustainability.