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Women’s Day Special: How Gender Equality can help fight Climate Change

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, #BalancedforBetter, stresses on increasing gender equality in improving the world. This goal is associated with climate change in two ways. First, the negative effects of climate change affect everyone, but research reveals that it hit the women and girls the hardest. Surprisingly, improving the key areas of gender equality can help in checking emissions leading to global warming. This leads to an inseparable link between climate change and possibility of a more gender-balanced society.
 
Women and girls face more harm from climate change as it is a “threat multiplier”, making bad situations turn worse and we had witnessed this in New Orleans after Katrina. It is women and girls, leading a life in economically-backward condition, who face a greater risk of displacement or death due to natural disaster. 
 
Droughts and floods are linked to early marriage and sexual exploitation, as a last resort survival strategy. During crisis, collection of water, fuel and growing food, usually done by women in many societies, becomes more time-consuming and increase the burden on them. This apart, the struggle for health, education and financial security also increase.
 
Climate change thwarts the rights and opportunities of women and girls. In such a situation, gender-responsive strategies for climate resilience become critical, making the leadership, voices and rights of women and girls a necessity.
 
Many agents of change for a liveable planet are women
 

Gender equality is important to find solutions for climate change. Research under Project Drawdown shows that securing the rights of women and girls is likely to have a positive impact on the atmosphere. Gender equity has ripple effects on growth of human family. If girls and women can get high-quality education and reproductive health care, they make different choices like marrying at a later stage and having fewer children. 
 
These decisions add up and over a period of time, have an influence on the number of human beings living on the planet. Their movement, production of waste, consumption of food and other articles generate emissions and if the number of humans reduce on the earth, the emissions too reduce.
 
It was found that these emissions are produced more by the affluent than the poor. On an average,  an American produces 17 tonne of carbon dioxide per capita each year compared to the 1.7 tonne or  just one-tenth of a tonne by an individual in India or Madagascar, respectively.
 
Education and family planning are basic human rights, which are still far from reality for many. Across the world, 130 million school-going girls are not in the classroom and missing the foundation for their life. Same is the case of high-quality, voluntary reproductive healthcare. 
 
The leadership of women and girls on climate goes beyond family choices as many agents of change for a liveable planet are women. These days, women and girls have taken a step ahead and are overcoming unequal representation at decision-making tables. 
 
With teenagers becoming more active to reduce the pace of climate change like 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg who said “Climate crisis has already been solved. We know the facts and solutions. Instead of looking for hope, look for action,” the world must mobilise climate solutions as quickly and fully as possible.

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