By Adegbe Blessing Ojoshogu
The world has had to battle against many plights over the years: from wars, famine, poverty, and now global warming. By now it must be common knowledge that the climate of the world is changing, and the more unconcerned we sit, the graver the consequences become.
Global warming – and to a larger extent climate change – has, perhaps, been the biggest challenge for this generation to tackle. Year in, year out, the situation keeps worsening, with very little being done to mitigate it.
A 2013 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”
That observation was spot on! And right so.
But what the report, and for that matter many advocacy groups, failed to capture was the fact that the same human influence could as well help to tackle the problem created. The war against climate change cannot be fought by one man; it is a global combat and that only means that a collective effort is required.
And that is the more reason why the time has come for women to also get involved.
According to the UN Women Watch, women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men, primarily as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor population, and are more dependent on natural resources that are threatened by climate change for their livelihood.
In Africa, for instance, women are most often charged with the responsibility of securing water, food and fuel for cooking. That only means that they are most vulnerable to the repercussions of climate change. It is thus important to identify gender-sensitive strategies to respond to the environmental and humanitarian crises caused by climate change, and more importantly to note that women are not only vulnerable but can also be frontrunners in the fight against climate change.
Thankfully, women across the world are becoming more enlightened, more equipped, more confident, and are putting in more work in a bid to contribute their own quota to the advancement of their immediate environment and the world at large.
Why more women must engage in the fight against climate change
The fight against climate change involves a collective effort, however, it appears that most women across the globe have taken a laidback stance. The gender-balance in this global fight has just not been there. It was somewhat encouraging when some women mayors in the world met in New York earlier this year to decide how best they can help fight climate change.
Chief among their deliberations was how to get a lot more women involved. To that effect, the Women4Climate initiative was launched in a bid to serve as an educatory body for women and to emphasise the importance of getting more of them involved.
The message was simple: getting more women involved in the fight against climate change is the way to go.
Women, naturally exhibit a stronger social and environmental awareness, and that will come in handy if this global plight is to be curbed. According to a research by Mayesha Alam – Associate Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security – whereas men engage in climate change adaptation and mitigation, women tend to be risk-aware and willing to change their habits.
And as Ester Fuchs, a professor of the public affairs and political science at Columbus University, succinctly put it: “Once you stop thinking about making sure that women are at the table, you’re also going to end up in a situation where climate change is less of a priority.”
The time to get more women involved in the global fight against climate change is surely now!
How to get more women involved in the fight against climate change
Renowned Kenyan environmental-political activist, Wangari Maathai, once articulated that “You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people. You inform them. And you help them understand that these resources are their own. That they must protect them.”
She was right. Having travelled around the world trying to fight global warming, the 2004 Noble Peace prize winner saw the need to empower people if any headway should be made. In this case, women have undoubtedly not be empowered enough to take up the fight against this globally worrying canker.
It is high time women ascended leading roles, in order bring their expertise to the fore. Workshops and programmes must be organised to educate them on the need to get more actively involved.
Opportunities targeted towards women should as well be created. This would ensure more women gain the necessary skills needed to advance the renewable energy field and to train more people as well.
Women should also be engaged as leaders and decision makers in the action against climate change. This would enable them to sufficiently raise their voices to protect the planet for the sake of all of our futures. And by so doing, awareness would be created at local and global levels about the dangers of climate change.
The fight against climate change is still on, but only a collective effort could score victory for the world, and women have a critical role to play in that. A role to empower; a role to be actively involved; and above all, a role to make the world a better place by advocating for an oxygen-carbon-dioxide balance.
The writer, Adegbe Blessing Ojoshogu, is a Climate Change Enthusiast and PACC Policy Research Fellow- Nigeria.
– Edited By Emmanuel Ayamga