In 2021, the 1,000 most influential climate scientists in the world were ranked based on publication record and social media engagement. Of the top 20, only one was a woman. (Reuters, 2021). Yet, the first scientist to make the connection between increased CO2 and atmospheric warming was Eunice Newton Foote back in 1856. At the same time, women bear the brunt of the climate crisis — about 80% of people displaced by climate change are women (UNDP, 2016).
The gender divide is also pronounced in the sustainability finance and digital landscapes, two areas influencing society’s ability to achieve climate targets. A 2019 study found that only 3% of climate finance addressed gender equality as a primary target (OECD, 2016; Samuwai & Fihaki, 2019). In terms of global connectivity, men are 21% more likely than women to have internet access, and this likelihood rises to 52% in least developed countries (USAID, 2022). The downstream consequences from this lack of internet access have repercussions both in human rights dimensions and on global economic impacts – with an estimate of one trillion dollars annually left on the table due to women not being able to contribute equally in the digital age (Alliance for Affordable Internet, 2021).
However, despite these inequalities, inspirational stories of hope abound. Women who experience the consequences of climate change are often leaders in developing coping strategies and building resilience (WEF, 2022). As noted at COP26, by the Women in Finance Climate Action Group, “Women are not just victims; given the opportunity they are powerful agents of change” (Reid & Greeves, 2021).
United Nations Women’s Explainer – How gender inequality and climate change are interconnected.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Explore Topic: Gender – “We promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in conservation and sustainable development.”
The Rallying Cry – an initiative to catalyze new leadership and investment approaches to scale private sector climate and gender solutions in Africa.
ShEquity – a gender-lens investment firm providing smart investments for African women entrepreneurs with a vision to close the gender funding gap in Africa.
SHE Changes Climate – Enabling women in all their diversity, to lead just climate action globally.
WE Empower UN SDG Challenge – honours women-run businesses that address the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Youth Climate Innovation Labs – program where young people from all over the world provide innovative solutions to the climate challenges their communities face, run by UN Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN) (hosted by UNEP).
Daughters for Earth – a movement of women and girls around the world who are rising up to solve climate change and heal our one and only home.
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) – “Women’s rights are imperative to combat desertification, land degradation and drought.”
Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown. A scene from community discussions at the massive gathering in Pesantren Annuqqayah—one of the oldest Islamic boarding schools in the country—on how women contribute to peace in their communities. The discussions were in the lead up to the International Peace Day commemoration in Madura island, East Java, with the President of Indonesia, co-hosted by UN Women and Wahid Foundation.
“Our water deserves to be treated as human with human rights. We need to acknowledge our waters with personhood so we can protect our waters.”
Autumn Peltier is the Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation and an environmental advocate from Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island, Canada. Read more about Peltier’s work in this article from Royal Roads University >
Video: A talk with Autumn Peltier at Royal Roads University as part of the Changemakers Speakers Series and a screening of Autumn’s film “The Water Walker.”
Ellyanne Chlystun-Githae Wanjiku
“We should be asking ourselves every day: how do we preserve our health and the environment as a way of keeping ourselves and our planet healthy?”
Ellyanne Chlystun-Githae Wanjiku is a student from Peponi School, Kenya, Africa’s Youngest Climate Change Ambassador, and founder of the non-profit Children With Nature. Read more about Wanjiku’s work in this interview by UrbanBetter >
Video: Ellyanne Chlystun CGTN Africa TV Interview with Penina Karibe & Wilkisten Nyabwa.
“You can’t just expect things to happen, if you want to see something change, you need to get up and go take charge.”
Garvita Gulhati is a sustainability champion from Bengaluru, India and founder of Why Waste? – India’s largest youth led movement working towards water conservation. Read more about Gulhati’s work in this piece by Ashoka >
Video: Ashoka Young Changemaker – Garvita Gulhati’s ‘Why Waste’ is conducting awareness campaigns for the public and helping restaurants identify the various ways in which they can save resources.
“The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.”
Greta Thunberg is an environmental activist from Stockholm, Sweden who began the global movement “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (“School strike for climate”) and Fridays for Future. Read more about Thunberg in TIME magazine’s person of the year article >
Video: School strike for climate – save the world by changing the rules | Greta Thunberg | TEDxStockholm.
To understand more about how women’s leadership will drive inclusive climate action, watch this video: