Anika Molesworth, author, farmer and scientist, writes about the additional risks rural women and girls face as a result of the climate crisisas part of the International Day of Rural Women.
The climate crisis is not equal between the sexes. For rural women around the world, gender inequality puts them on the path to danger.
Societies that restrict and restrict certain members based on their gender promote cumulative and chronic inequalities and human rights violations. Girls, women and non-binary people who are oppressed and exploited have limited ability to adapt to climate change, let alone help mitigate its drivers. Entangled in regressive systems of domination, patriarchal power, violence and selfishness, silence and servitude breed in dark corners.
Girls and women are more at risk of climate destabilization due to existing vulnerability and injustice. Climate change is a threat multiplier. Stressed and strained communities have more gender-based violence, including sexual assault, domestic violence and forced prostitution, and climate change causes more stress and tension.
Extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods and wildfires, increase the risk of displacement, hunger, poverty and death. When one is already marginalized in a system built on destructive greed and ruthless competition, girls and women are the first to be left behind. Women are fourteen times more likely to die in natural disasters.
This is particularly true in rural communities and more pronounced in developing countries where labour-intensive and time-consuming activities are placed on the shoulders of many girls and women – collecting firewood and water, growing food, raising and feeding livestock, caring for children, and preparing and serving food to their households. Women have a heavy burden to bear and climate change adds weight to this existing burden. Health, education, employment and financial opportunities are more limited compared to men and as a result their ability to thrive is weakened.
As climate change impedes the rights and opportunities of girls, women and non-binary people, gender-responsive climate strategies are essential. Aspirations for gender equality go hand in hand with those for tackling the climate crisis.
Methods of overcoming climate challenges can, and must, address systemic gender injustices. The inclusion and empowerment of women will help us identify solutions and see them implemented. Equity is not just a “nice to have”, it is essential to our own survival.
Creating better and fairer communities is a prerequisite for creating a healthier planet. Our destinies are intertwined and the future of our communities can only be strengthened when all the threads of the weave are intertwined and supported by each other. We all suffer from the constraints of patriarchy. We will all benefit from gender equality.
Around the world, women are already conducting critical research, campaigning for change, organizing heartfelt art and music, setting policy, strategizing, writing better vision, speaking and speaking, and walking the not…and we should celebrate that and champion opportunities that allow for more.
All human beings deserve to be valued equally, regardless of gender, and have the freedom to express themselves authentically. And when we elevate rural women, we elevate the ambition of climate action. According to the international climate research and advocacy organization Project Drawdown, empowering women worldwide would increase agricultural yields by 20-30%, potentially feed 150 million people, reduce pressure on land for food and would save more than two gigatonnes of CO2 by 2050. .
But while women remain underrepresented in business, politics, science, law, engineering, finance and leadership positions, the foundation on which we try to build climate solutions remains unstable. Rejecting and suppressing the half of the world that can potentially adopt climate leadership and participate in problem solving sets us on a short path to failure.
If we want to dramatically and quickly reduce our carbon emissions, if we want to grow better communities on a healthier planet, we need gender equity. And each person has a role to play in achieving this.
To overcome the climate crisis and create a fair and equitable world, every solver with every solution is needed at this critical moment in history.
Dr Anika Molesworth is the author of Our country burned by the sun, and book that explores the impacts of climate change and climate solutions in the food and agriculture system. Anika is an agricultural and environmental scientist, and is widely recognized for her work with farmers and food systems and for raising awareness of climate change. Anika is passionate about ensuring the best possible future for the planet, people and food, and often presents on TV, radio and at conferences. She works with farmers, researchers, NGOs, businesses and government officials to achieve the best results for rural communities. She lives on the family farm in Australia and travels regularly to lead workshops and trainings through her organization, Climate Wise Agriculture.