For centuries, collections of people have called up to Mother Nature, through dance, ceremony, or a desperate plea. Though, these days, it is far easier for most to bask in a beautifully sunny day outdoors than take steps to reduce the way they impact the natural world.
Still, the cultural myth of nature as a female entity persists, as Concrete and Dust authors Jeanine Marie Minge and Amber Lynn Zimmerman recognize that pollution is in fact sexism.
“The logic of domination naturalizes the idea that men have power over nature as they do over women. This is embodied in practices such as rape, pillaging, and pollution.”
A report from ThinkProgress recognizes the concerns for women during climate change, and the barrier that gender inequality creates for sustainable development. On a global scale, the lives of women are typically more intertwined with their immediate environment. This is especially true in poor and developing nations, where women are the main providers of food and water for the household, and make up the majority of agricultural workforce. This majority totals over 90 percent for women in many African countries.
This same report highlights the over 6o percent of young girls and women in these developing nations who are responsible for bringing water into their homes. As water becomes more scarce, women are then required to travel greater distances for retrieval. The greatest sacrifice in exchange for this time is most often, education.
The myriad of issues intertwining women and the environment includes natural disasters and land ownership, among many others. But women are not helpless victims in the face of climate change. These facts serve as support of the knowledge and experience women have with regards to nature, and highlights their opportunity to act as stewards of change with regards to pressing environmental issues.
In the United States, climate change remains a politically divisive issue. Here, some are still choosing to act against the Earth, while Indigenous farmers in the Laramate district of Peru experienced the reality of climate change first hand.
A premature frost during the growing season lead to a major loss of crops, and eventually, a restructuring of growing practices. These women returned to the ancient growing practices of their ancestors, and have since made better use of the land to create better tasting goods that last.
This small change has drastically transformed a community. The increase in crop yield positively impacted health and the local economy. Now, women who were once oppressed and disregarded have the clout to challenge undeniable gender disparities and the respect of many men choosing to listen.
The women of OMIL (the Organization of Indigenous Women of Laramate) are just one example of females taking charge of climate change and making an equal impact on their social status.
Though, as climate change continues to drive biodiversity, it remains the responsibility of all citizens and inhibitors of this Earth to actively make change in their local communities.
“It is important to note that the declining biodiversity does not solely impact the material welfare and livelihoods of people; it also cripples access to security, resiliency, social relations, health, and freedom of choices and actions.”
Women, Gender Equality and Climate Change: UN