International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on March 8. This year, the theme is Gender Equality Today For A Sustainable Tomorrow, to recognize the contributions of women around the world who are leading the charge on the environment, climate change adaptation, mitigation and response, to build a more sustainable future for all.
It is no secret that women play a crucial role in society. A century ago, women all over the world fought for the right to vote, breaking centuries of social norms in the process. Now, IWD is an annual celebration of women’s achievements and political, economic and social advancements. It is also a day to reflect upon the progress made towards gender equality over the past hundred years.
IWD also seeks to recognize women’s achievements along with their past and present contributions to society and the world at large; as well as focusing on the remaining challenges, including those related to gender inequality.
However, there are still far too many instances of gender inequality around the world, leading to lower quality of life in developing countries and also impacting our planet’s sustainability. As we look to 2022, International Women’s Day becomes an opportunity to look at gender equality not just for a day but for every day of the year.
Gender Inequality and Climate Change
Advancing gender equality in the context of climate change is one of humanity’s greatest challenges of our time. Despite significant progress made towards achieving gender equality, women disproportionately remain affected by climate-related disasters and are often denied equal access to sustainable energy, clean water, and other vital resources.
The impact of climate change on women—who not only do the right thing but also drive action by contributing their unique knowledge and skills to both adaptation and mitigation efforts—is critical to understand as we strive to achieve sustainable development goals under the UN agenda.
Role of women in climate change
As climate change becomes an increasingly dire reality, it’s time for us to stop ignoring women’s voices on climate change as we miss out on the key to addressing some of its deepest causes: empowering women to lead their communities and make informed decisions about their futures.
Empower Women For Equality
Climate change has put gender equality high on many agendas, with leaders focusing on climate as one of many drivers of inequality, and also calling for concrete policy responses to alleviate its impact. Climate action can empower women, but it also has implications that women will feel first and the hardest.
While women make up half of humanity—and are increasingly active in community-based climate adaptation efforts—their contributions are often undervalued or overlooked altogether. To achieve gender equality today, we should recognize that women must be on an equal footing in shaping policies for our tomorrow.
Women have historically been underrepresented in climate change research and development, leading to them being excluded from efforts to mitigate, adapt, and respond to climate change and the environment. In many countries, women are still significantly underrepresented in the STEM fields that contribute to climate change research and adaptation efforts. If we want sustainable solutions that will improve our lives today while ensuring a bright future for generations to come, we must include women as equal partners in climate action.
One way to ensure the inclusion of women in these areas is by creating spaces where they are empowered to speak out, collaborate, and act together. To coincide with International Women’s Day (IWD), March 8, it is crucial that we elevate women’s voices on some of today’s most pressing challenges—not just because they relate to climate change but in all aspects of global sustainability.