We – that is, human beings -- are changing the climate faster than we can adapt to it, according to IPCC’s latest report published last week. However, there is still hope and, more importantly, time to act. On International Women’s Day and every day, Pact works to help all people thrive and be resilient, regardless of gender. Women are more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on the natural resources that climate change threatens the most.
But women are also powerful change-makers in the fight against climate change and for a more sustainable future for all. Below are some of the many ways we are working with women on climate change adaptation, mitigation and response.
Women in rural areas are drivers of improved, eco-friendly practices. In Colombia, our Vamos Tejiendo project is supporting the Asociación de Mujeres Organizadas de Yolombó (AMOY), a women’s organization whose members are part of the raw sugar (panela) value chain and promote agroecology in northeastern Antioquia. AMOY is developing an agroecology course for women of the region that aims to mitigate the effects of climate change while strengthening food sovereignty and the bargaining power of rural women.
Southeast Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, and it is also where some of the world’s biggest increases in greenhouse gas emissions have occurred. In Cambodia, women entrepreneurs are creating businesses that are good for people and planet. Our WE Act project has supported Compost City, a start-up providing solutions to transform household waste. Starting in her own kitchen, CEO Tchaw Monorom envisions that her start-up could help reduce trash in Phnom Penh and reconnect people with nature. According to Compost City’s estimates, composting has the potential to reduce landfill waste by up to 80 percent in Phnom Penh. Watch a video about Monorom here.
The decision to use natural materials is good for business and for the environment. Also in Cambodia, water hyacinth weaving is a traditional craft now seeing a resurgence. Water hyacinth is a weed that tends to clog waterways if its growth is left unchecked. But it is also now considered an eco-friendly weaving material for decorative baskets and other products. Srey Phallathavy runs her own business supported by WE Act, making products with water hyacinth.
Considering that women make up to 80 percent of purchasing decisions globally, USAID Green Invest Asia has sought to understand how women in Southeast Asia are responding to climate change concerns. The 2019 report, “Why are Women Championing Sustainability in Southeast Asia,” shows how women are seeking to make systemic change as consumers, employees and investors. Notably, almost 85 percent of women surveyed want to invest in responsible companies.
Another important report by USAID Green Invest Asia in collaboration with the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) features dozens of women-led and owned coffee businesses in Southeast Asia. The region’s prominence as a global coffee exporter has grown in recent years and there is an increased need to adopt practices that are less aggressive on the soil, eco-friendlier and sustainable. While women’s presence in coffee value chains is often invisible, this study shows us how women’s involvement in all parts of the supply chain is advancing the coffee sector at large.
In Myanmar, too, women are driving change in the energy sector. They are leading businesses and initiatives working to deliver off-grid electricity to more people in Myanmar than ever before.
Another exciting energy project that Pact undertook in Tanzania with Villageboom, EEP Africa and the Jane Goodall Institute was the “Solar Light Women’s Group Campaign.” Through a proven method that enables participants to upgrade to bright solar lights from basic kerosene lamps, roughly 24,000 households in Tanzania were provided with Villageboom high-power lamps to improve their livelihoods as well as the environment.
We must act quickly to reverse global warming, limit the effects of climate change and adapt in time. Including women in decision-making is imperative to improving the development and implementation of solutions for planet and climate. As we empower women to participate in decisions and actions around climate and the environment that affect their well-being, we can turn the tide on climate change.